According to new research, a low-fat diet offers the least chance for long-term weight loss.
Over four years, researchers at the Children's Hospital Boston looked at how easily volunteers 'regained weight' after following either a low-fat diet, low-glycemic index diet (commonly known as the GI Diet), or low-carbohydrate diet (or Atkins).
Many people can lose weight for a few months, but most have difficulty maintaining clinically significant weight loss over the long term, explains the report.
In a statement the researcher highlight that, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2006), only one in six overweight and obese adults report ever having maintained weight loss of at least 10% for one year.
One explanation for the poor long-term outcome is that weight loss elicits biological adaptations, suggests the research.
GI Rating: 30 Eat Instead Of: Shredded wheat (60)
GI Rating: 15 Eat Instead Of: Beetroot (64)
GI Rating: 54 Eat Instead Of: Parsnips (97)
GI Rating: 31 Eat Instead Of: Ice cream (67)
GI Rating: 29 Eat Instead Of: Dates (103)
GI Rating: 50 Eat Instead Of: Couscous (61)
GI Rating: 16 Eat Instead Of: Boiled carrots (41)
GI Rating: 35 Eat Instead Of: Soy milk (45)
GI Rating: 42 Eat Instead Of: Baked beans (56)
GI Rating: 22 Eat Instead Of: Pineapple (66)
GI Rating: 25 Eat Instead Of: Rice cakes (87)
GI Rating: 41 Eat Instead Of: Blueberry muffin (Please note: Snickers bar may be low in GI ratings but is high in saturated fat)
GI Rating: 52 Eat Instead Of: Blackeyed beans (60)
GI Rating: 34 Eat Instead Of: Mango (60)
GI Rating: 33 Eat Instead Of: Honey (58)
Scroll down for Atkins snack tips!
Specifically a decline in energy expenditure and an increase in hunger—that promotes weight.
According to preliminary research published in the June 27 issue of JAMA, a low-fat diet may increase the risk for weight regain compared to the other diets.
In an examination of the effect on energy expenditure and components of the metabolic syndrome of three types of commonly consumed diets following weight loss, decreases in resting energy expenditure and total energy expenditure were greatest with a low-fat diet, intermediate with a low-glycemic index diet, and least with a very low-carbohydrate diet.
The study, conducted between June 2006 and June 2010, included 21 overweight and obese young adults.
The researchers found that energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance differed significantly among the three diets.
"The results of our study challenge the notion that a calorie is a calorie from a metabolic perspective," the researchers write, in a statement.
"These findings suggest that a strategy to reduce glycemic load rather than dietary fat may be advantageous for weight-loss maintenance and cardiovascular disease prevention.
"Ultimately, successful weight-loss maintenance will require behavioral and environmental interventions to facilitate long-term dietary adherence.
"But such interventions will be most effective if they promote a dietary pattern that ameliorates the adverse biological changes accompanying weight loss," the researchers conclude.
Spread peanut butter on wholemeal toast or crackers as a protein-rich snack. Peanuts are an excellent source of protein, with one tablespoon containing about four grams of protein.
A half cup of cottage cheese contains around 16 grams of protein, yet only has 102 calories and two grams of fat, as opposed to other cheese, where the protein benefits are counteracted by the high fat content. If you're not too keen on the cheesy taste, add a handful of berries or fruit to the bowl, or spread it on a wholemeal cracker for a savoury snack.
Egg white contains four grams of protein and is cholesterol-free. Whip up an egg white omelette for your lunch or some scrambled egg sandwiches for a tasty way to boost your protein intake.
Tuna fish is a great source of protein, with one tin can containing 25 grams of protein. Snack on it straight from the tin if you like it enough, or mix it with sweetcorn and a tiny bit of low-fat mayonaise to make a spread that you can have with pitta bread or crackers.
Although lentils can taste a little bland on their own, they can be easily added to your lunchtime salad or into a hearty homemade soup. Lentils are a great source of protein and an easy way to boost your protein levels. One cup of lentils equals to around 18 grams of protein.
A single cup of quinoa contains around 18g of protein and it can be easily added to homemade granola bars or cookies if you fancied a sweeter snack.
Beans contain a high level of protein and can be eaten in all different ways. Why not make a bean dip by blending different types together mixed with a little bit of olive oil? Or add them to a homemade soup and sprinkle them on your lunchtime salad.
A handful of raw, unsalted nuts, like almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts are great snacks to keep handy throughout the day. You only need a small handful for your daily allowance on these, but they are high in fiber, protein, and "good" fats.