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Diet for weight loss; which is best?


Many weight loss “diets” have been designed. Some of them we have learned about through people who specialize in weight management; others we adopted from friends who have tremendously lost weight, and have thus shared the secret behind their success.

One such diet is the high protein diet.  Research has shown proteins to have the highest satiety followed by carbohydrates and then fats. The satiety effect experienced after consuming 20% or more of protein in a meal has been explained to be as a result of increased plasma amino acids, increased satiety hormones and increase in energy expenditure. This consequently results in reduced energy intake, and by extension the low carbs diet. Essentially and depending on various physiological factors and physical activity, the recommended energy intake is such that carbohydrates provide about 45- 65% of energy, less than 30% from fats and 10-35 % from proteins. Low carbs diets therefore reduce carbohydrates as a source of energy and instead increase proteins.

We also have the low fat diet which restricts oil and fat. Fats and oils generally offer most calories (9kcal/g) compared to 4kcal/g for carbohydrates and proteins respectively. A low fat diet has been shown to result in less calorie intake, therefore weight loss, and at the same time shown to improve cholesterol levels and consequently improve cardiovascular health. Nonetheless, there have been many debates about which diet is better for weight loss.

A new study from the Stanford University of Medicine says that a low fat diet works more or less the same as a low carbohydrate diet. Simply put; none is superior to the other. According to the study, a diet low in refined food and sugar, but high in vegetables was beneficial regardless of the diet. Further, weight loss will vary among individuals on any diet. So your experience may not necessarily be that of your friends.

Christine Nderitu

As a licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. Her area of expertise lies not just in nutrition management but in health education and promotion in HIV/AIDS, Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health as well as Non-Communicable Diseases, which she has engaged in for a decade. She is also a columnist in a leading local Daily. Christine has a keen interest in Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control. She feels that the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity. “We have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.”