Making relatively small changes to the dietary balance of foods can lead to dramatic weight loss, new research finds.
Four foods that are strongly linked to weight loss are seafood, yogurt, skinless chicken and nuts.
In contrast, processed meats and red meats are the foods most strongly linked to weight gain.
Dr Jessica Smith, the study’s first author, said:
“There is mounting scientific evidence that diets including less low-quality carbohydrates, such as white breads, potatoes, and sweets, and higher in protein-rich foods may be more efficient for weight loss.
We wanted to know how that might apply to preventing weight gain in the first place.”
The study included data from three studies which followed over 120,000 people across 16 years.
The results showed that for avoiding weight gain, low-glycaemic load diets were the best.
Foods to avoid include refined grains, sugars and starches, which are all linked to blood pressure spikes and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Low-fat dairy was not linked to weight loss, Dr Smith said:
“The fat content of dairy products did not seem to be important for weight gain.
In fact, when people consumed more low-fat dairy products, they actually increased their consumption of carbs, which may promote weight gain.
This suggests that people compensate, over years, for the lower calories in low-fat dairy by increasing their carb intake.”
Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, study co-author, said:
“Our study adds to growing new research that counting calories is not the most effective strategy for long-term weight management and prevention.
Some foods help prevent weight gain, others make it worse. Most interestingly, the combination of foods seems to make a big difference.
Our findings suggest we should not only emphasize specific protein-rich foods like fish, nuts, and yogurt to prevent weight gain, but also focus on avoiding refined grains, starches, and sugars in order to maximize the benefits of these healthful protein-rich foods, create new benefits for other foods like eggs and cheese, and reduce the weight gain associated with meats.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Smith et al., 2019).