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Researchers explore how effective diets boost weight loss, improve health

As people rely on diets to lose weight and following a balanced diet helps people in achieving the perfect body shape. Intermittent fasting, Mediterranean diet, and Paleo diets are some of the diets that help people with overweight issues. In a recent study, scientists have explored how effective these diets are.

The University of Otago’s research on 250 participants shows an intermittent diet that proves to be more efficient in weight loss than others. Here one limits his or her energy intake to 500 kcal (for females) or 600 kcal (for males).

The Mediterranean diet also helps in stabilising blood sugar levels.

Co-lead author Dr. Melyssa Roy, a Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine, said that the amount of weight loss was modest (on average two to four kilograms for the 250 participants), but for those choosing the fasting or Mediterranean diets, clinically significant improvements in blood pressure were also seen.

The aim of the research was to examine how effective all three diets were in reality, where participants self-selected which diet they wished to follow, without any ongoing support from a dietician.

Dr. Roy said that the evidence showed that for some people the Mediterranean diet, fasting or paleo (Paleolithic) diets can be a healthful, beneficial eating habit.

“This work supports the idea that there isn’t a single ‘right’ diet – there is a range of options that may suit different people and be effective. In this study, people were given dietary guidelines at the start and then continued with their diets in the real world while living normally,” explained Melyssa.About half of the participants were still following their diets after a year and had experienced improvements in markers of health.

“Like the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting and paleo diets can also be valid healthy eating approaches – the best diet is the one that includes healthy foods and suits the individual.”Co-lead author Dr. Michelle Jospe, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Medicine, said that the results showed people found the Mediterranean diet to be the easiest to adhere to.

54 percent of participants chose the fasting diet, while 27 percent chose the Mediterranean and 18 percent the paleo. After 12 months, the Mediterranean diet had the best retention rate with 57 percent of participants continuing, with 54 percent still fasting and 35 percent still on the paleo diet.

Reduced systolic blood pressure was observed among those participating in the fasting and Mediterranean diets, together with reduced blood sugar levels in the Mediterranean diet.

Dr. Jospe explains participants who said they were still following their diet at 12 months lost even more weight, showing the importance of choosing a diet that is sustainable.

She believes the results of this study are relevant to the thousands of people following self-chosen diets with little supervision and indicates more realistic outcomes.

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