New study suggests that simple dietary changes can lead to great weight loss

People trying to lose weight do not have to starve themselves just to shed off some extra pounds. Obesity and nutrition researchers at University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) are suggesting that people who want to lose weight should increase their dietary fiber and lean protein intake instead of limiting their food intake.

This suggestion comes after the team looked at the feasibility and acceptability among obese adults of a nonrestrictive diet focused on increasing dietary fiber and lean protein for weight loss. In the pilot study published in the journal Nutrition, they enrolled 15 obese adults who underwent dietary changes to lose weight for 12 weeks. The participants aimed to consume 35 grams (g) of fiber per day and 0.6 g per kilogram of an individual’s ideal body weight per day of lean protein. They also attended six bi-weekly individual dietary counseling sessions.

The researchers evaluated dietary intake using three randomly selected 24-hour dietary recalls, while they determined feasibility by study retention, attendance at the counseling sessions, and adherence to the diet. (Related: Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, making them an excellent dietary staple.)

“We chose increased dietary fiber and lean protein because they exert cardiovascular health benefits in addition to weight loss. While many diets can result in short-term weight loss, a sustainable, high-quality diet will contribute to long-term health benefits,” explained study co-author Barbara Olendzki, associate professor of medicine and director of the UMMS Center for Applied Nutrition.

The results revealed that 93 percent of the participants approved of the diet and 92 percent said they did not feel hungry at all. Out of the 15 participants, one dropped out from the study.

As the participants increased their lean protein intake, their saturated fat intake decreased. In addition, increasing fiber and lean protein consumption improved their overall nutritional profiles. Furthermore, this resulted in modest weight loss without restricting their food intake or counting calories.

“We are encouraged that weight loss did occur without the need for caloric awareness,” said senior author Yunsheng Ma, associate professor of medicine.

Moreover, the participants’ dietary quality score, which was measured by the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, increased. This means that their risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and death from all causes decreased.

The researchers plan to expand their study and explore ways to keep patients motivated to stay on the diet beyond 12 months. They hope that the extended timeframe will cause more weight loss and prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Weight loss tips

The National Health Service (NHS) of the U.K. suggests some tips that will help you lose weight:

  • Always have your breakfast: Skipping breakfast will cause you to miss out on essential nutrients and will make you even hungrier throughout the day.
  • Eat regular meals: Eating meals at regular times during the day will help you burn calories faster. In addition, this will prevent you from snacking on foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables: For successfully losing weight, you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as they are low in calories and fat and rich in fiber.
  • Get moving: Diet alone cannot help you lose weight, so you need to move. Exercise will help you burn calories and keep it off.
  • Drink lots of water: Some people confuse thirst with hunger, so they end up eating more calories. Drink plenty of water to prevent this from happening.
  • Check the label: You can choose healthier food options when you practice the habit of reading food labels.
  • Use smaller plates: Eating in a smaller plate can help you eat smaller portions. This will also help you to gradually get used to eating smaller portions without getting hungry.
  • Limit your alcohol intake: One glass of wine can have as many calories as a piece of chocolate, which can easily contribute to weight gain over time.
  • Avoid stocking junk food: Buy healthy snacks, such as fruits, unsalted rice cakes, and oatcakes instead.

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