Deciding between the Atkins Diet, Mediterranean diet or a traditional low-fat/high-carbohydrates diet?
It really doesn’t make a lot of difference, says a team of Israeli nutrition experts. Your chances of losing weight with any of the three hinges on eating more vegetables and cutting down on sweets than on whether you consume lots of meat and fish (as Atkins advises), olive oil and legumes (Mediterranean-style) or pasta and potatoes (the low-fat route).
“We took the three different diets and divided them into 12 food groups – vegetables, fruit, liquids and others – and we assessed the impact of each food group on weight loss,” Yftach Gepner told The Media Line. “We found that it doesn’t really matter which kind of diet you choose – the outcome depends on increasing vegetable consumption and decreasing sweets.”
Gepner, a doctoral student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was part of a 13-person team to study the impact of the eating regiments on 322 people, nearly 90% of them men, over a two-year period. The subjects were all employed at Israel’s nuclear research center in Dimona, which Gepner said was chosen because it was an easy way to create an easily monitored group.
Atkins works best, but not by much
What they found was that the low-carbohydrate diet, popularized by the American doctor Robert Atkins, achieved the best results, with those put on the regiment losing an average of 6.4 kilograms (14 pounds) in the first six months. Mediterranean dieters lost an average of 4.7 kilos and low-fat dieters shed 4.3 kilos.
All three diets were less successful over two years, with dieters regaining some of their lost fat. But those on the low-carb diet did the best at keeping the weight off while those on the low-fate/high carb regime were only 2.9 kilos lighter on average compared to when they started.
No one diet fit for all
But the differences in the results between the three diets’ menus were less important than how much of their diet consisted of vegetables, according to the study, whose title “Effect of Changes in the Intake of Weight of Specific Food Groups on Successful Body Weight Loss during a Multi–Dietary Strategy Intervention Trial” could afford some slimming, too.
It was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in January. Iris Shai, a researcher at Ben-Gurion’s S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition, led the study.
“Even if the weight loss was different between the diets, the consumption of food groups that were similar was the biggest factor,” said Gepner, adding that the proportion of vegetables depends on the dieter. “There’s no one diet fit for all. The main thing, if you want to have successful weight loss, is you should increase your consumption of vegetables.”