Trial and error. Word of mouth. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
Frustrated by a lack of trustworthy sources, maybe you approached your weight loss diets using one of those faithful methods.
Until recently there has been no hard evidence to determine which truly works best. Finally, thanks to a review done by The Journal of the American Medical Association, we now have the data needed to sift through the head scratching and make a more accurate inference on weight loss diets. They handpicked some of the most popular diet fads and compared them against each other.
To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume daily. Every weight loss plan will also focus on macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) to predetermine the specific percentage of each you'll need to hit your target calories.
The researchers conducting the analysis took people looking to lose weight and assigned them to either one of the diets or simply no diet at all. Over the course of six months to a year the participants' weight loss was tracked. They focused on diets that fell into three subcategories: low fat, low carb and moderate macronutrients.
Low fat diets will lower the percentage of calories you'd consume from fats, while increasing protein and carbohydrate intake. Similar diets examined in the research included the Ornish diet and the Rosemary Conley diet.
Low carb diets, like the one LeBron James used to drop pounds this offseason, lower the percentage of calories consumed from carbohydrates and increase protein and fat consumption. The famous Atkins diet as well as the Zone diet was examined in the study.
Moderate macronutrient diets basically keep your percentages of protein, carbs and fats somewhat equal, but in the study they did the worse statistically. These diets include Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and the Volumetrics diet, which trades high-density foods like bread and meats for low-density foods like whole grains and vegetables.
The results after six months were quite drastic, led by the Atkins diet helping those in the study lose an average of 22.3 pounds. Low carb diets in general fared the best over the six-month period.
Interesting enough, when the data was stretched over a year the results became a lot less despairingly regarding total weight loss. Low fat diets yielded the best results while moderate macronutrients came in last again.
The researchers didn't force their subjects to adhere to the diet they placed them in so inevitably some participants will throw in the towel throughout the duration of the study.
One thing is certain, all of the diets led to significant weight loss. Dedication and discipline will be the two most important attributes one can have when dieting, but if you're looking for a more laid back approach, your own personal preference should suffice.