Dr Susan Baxter
What is the best diet for weight loss… in women?
Updated: Mar 2
The best long term weight loss plans are the ones that can be adhered to long term, i.e. the longer that they can and are followed for the more successful that they are.
That said, there are aspects of diets that make them more likely to be able to be followed for the long term: such as how limiting that they are (any that eliminate your ability to be able to participate in daily life, such as not allowing you to be able to dine in restaurants, are often those that are very short term.
Diets that help you to feel satisfied from your food, and enhance your metabolism are also more conducive to long term weight control and maintenance.
Research conducted on the Mediterranean diet have shown a greater benefit for following over other diets, given that there are associated lower risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic and long term illnesses.
The diet also has increased metabolic benefits, and has been shown to naturally suppress the appetite, by the combination of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and protein with little excess calories from refined sources. Some of the staples in the diet are: pure olive oil, fish and red wine.
Whilst the typical US diet might seem to be similar in macronutrient properties, the break down is slightly different: often the cheeses in the Mediterranean diet are good quality and accompanied with dense and good quality milled breads, whilst research tries to compare this to say, cheese on top of a processed pizza. These macronutrients and calories might be matched in both instances, but the density of nutrients is completely different.
If we compare two main aspects of the Mediterranean diet…
Olive oil and nuts
A conditionally essential fatty acid, know as oleic acid is just one of the components of nuts and olive oils. This and other EFAs contribute to reducing inflammation in the body and promote cardiovascular health.
One of the components in regulation of food intake and prolonging satiation is a gut hormone called Oleylethanolamine and it is produced in the cells that line the small intestine, initiated by the consumption of a meal that includes Oleic acid.
In studies on rats, appetite has been shown to be reduced: the rats ate smaller meals and ate less frequently.
The effects of oleic acid takes place in both the gut and in the brain at the hunger/satiation pathways. It also has been shown to delay the gastric emptying process: where the food passes from the stomach to the intestines.
Now that is not to say that nuts or olive oil are given a free pass for all you can stomach, but they are still high in energy due to their high fat content. One caveat is that they are harder for the body to digest than the equivalent amount of fat and calories in oil for or in lard form. This was shown by a study published in the scientific journal of Nutrition. Comparable to refined carbohydrates, power bars and shakes, nuts resist giving their energy more during the digestive process and therefore are less likely to contribute to weight gain.
Nuts also reduce the GI loading of a meal by including them as part of the meal. The person who ingests the nuts also experience a higher resting energy expenditure rate than those who do not, meaning that whilst doing absolutely nothing, more calories are burned.
Now after discussing the benefits of two of the core aspects of the Mediterranean diet, that encompasses what, in general to opt for when eating. But that isn’t the whole picture for long term weight management. You also need to focus on calories (portion size) and regular exercise.
Overeating is the contributor to weight gain and therefore portion control is an important aspect to consider regardless of whether you instead try paleo or some other kind of eating approach.
Finally, whilst the Mediterranean diet might seem adequate, do not forget that it is usually higher in fat and carbohydrate (unless you eat a lot more fish) and therefore a little extra concerted effort might be required in order to ensure that you meet your protein requirements.
For more on the topic of diets, check my other posts on why the scale didn't go down and high protein diets.
If you like what you read, I do have a series of Ebooks you can find here. I have designed these to inform and educate with real no-nonsense information about how to live a sustainably healthy life long term. It is the tool kit and knowledge that you need to make your own informed decisions for long-term health.
Thank you for reading.
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