Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sandy Szwarc
The Latest Diet Study

Sandy has done it again. All Diets Work (Wait for the Punchline)
The story of the week has appeared practically everywhere: “Atkins wins!”
Despite the glut of coverage the latest diet study has received -- in mainstream media, medical literature and even the blog world -- no one’s gotten the secret yet.
At the end of one year, what did they find? The story we’ve heard reported is that the Atkins diet resulted in the greatest weight loss: an average of 10.4 pounds, as compared to 5.7 pounds on LEARN, 4.8 pounds on Ornish, and 3.5 pounds on the Zone. While a 4 3/4-pounds difference after a year of dieting is being heralded as significant, the undeniable fact is that all of the weight losses were modest at best and clinically insignificant. And all were considerably less than the diets claim and certainly what most consumers believe will be their pay off after a year of effort.
The U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines tell us that all we need to do to lose a pound is to eat 3,500 calories less or burn 3,500 calories more. Given the calorie reductions made by all of the dieters in this study, they “should” have each lost about 36 pounds. They didn’t, of course.
It would be more accurate to say that the Atkins dieters experienced the biggest weight yo-yoing, and the fastest and most significant weight regain.During the last 6 months of the trial, all of the dieters regardless of the diet plan, experienced weight regain. At the end of the first year, they were already at or above the weight they lost during the first 2 months of the study.

My experience with the approximately 36 diets I was on was that I didn't only always gain back more than I lost. After a certain point, with each subsequent diet, I was able to lose less weight so that on my first I lost the three pounds I was aiming for, and on the second the five I'd rebounded, and on the third the seven from that rebound -- but, somewhere along the way I stopped losing further and further from my goal. And each time I began to regain at a lower calorie total than before, until I could gain weight on 600 calories a day and wouldn't stop gaining until I was at least 20% higher than when I started that diet. And the longer I continued the madness, the higher the percentage of muscle I lost on the diet and of fat I gained on the rebound.

In A Nutshell follows.

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