Four different heart-healthy diets showed similar degrees of weight loss in a new study, leading to the conclusion that the type of foods eaten is not as important as generally just reducing calorie intake.
The study, published in the February 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, included 811 overweight adults who were randomised to one of four different diets each emphasising different levels of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
On average, patients lost 6 kg in the first six months, but gradually began to regain weight after 12 months, regardless of which type of diet they were following.
The diets tested in the study included the same types of foods, but in different proportions, and were aimed to reduce overall calorie consumption by approximately 750 calories per day. Participants were advised to take moderate exercise for at least 90 minutes per week, and were offered counselling sessions to help aid compliance to the diets.
Results showed that 80% of subjects completed the trial, and 15% managed to lose at least 10% of their initial body weight. Similar levels of satisfaction and hunger were reported in all four groups. All four diets reduced risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease at six months and two-year follow-up. The low-fat diets produced the best reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, but the lowest carbohydrate diet improved high-density lipoprotein cholesterol the most.