IF you're keen to lose or maintain your weight, you know how difficult it can be.
One reason is because you need less calories as your body weight reduces.
But the composition of your diet is a factor too.
New research suggests that the proportion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your diet is just as important as the calorie count.
A study published just a few weeks ago assessed this question: What is the best diet for maintaining weight loss?
Researchers reviewed three variations: a low-fat diet (the diet recommended by experts since the mid-20th century), an ultra-low-carbohydrate diet and a moderate-low-glycemic diet with moderate protein and moderate fat content.
If you'd like to look up the study, it's published in JAMA Volume 307 No.24.
We used to believe that our bodies treated calories from fats, proteins and carbohydrates in the same way.
Simply put - eat less calories than you expend in energy and you'll lose weight.
But what the study concluded was that your body will manage its weight more effectively and be less susceptible to insulin resistance if you eat a moderate amount of fat and modify the type of carbohydrates you eat.
The first diet assessed was the classic low-fat diet, supplying 45% of your calories as carbohydrate, 30% of calories as fat and 25% of calories as protein.
This diet heavily utilises grains and as a result has a far higher glycemic load.
Alas, for the participants this resulted in burning less energy on the same number of calories, making it easier to regain weight and causing them to become susceptible to development of glucose management disorders.
The second diet was at the other end of the scale: the ultra-low-carbohydrate diet (10% carbohydrate, 60% fat, 30% protein); so low in carbohydrates that participants needed fibre supplements.
This diet was so restrictive that researchers believed it was unsustainable. Interestingly, they also found that you're more likely to feel stressed eating this way.
The third diet, which produced the best results for weight loss maintenance, was the 'low glycemic load' version (20% protein, 40% fat, 40% carbohydrate).
This diet contained a generous amount of carbohydrate, but all from low glycemic foods.
Legumes, starchy vegetables and only some unprocessed grains (like brown rice, quinoa, oats and the like) are low glycemic carbohydrates.
Sugar and processed grain products like breakfast cereals, bread, cakes, lollies and soft drinks create a high glycemic load and don't fit into a moderate carbohydrate diet.
The take-home message from this study is that if you want to lose weight, and keep it off, get sugar and processed grains out of your diet - and don't be scared of eating fat.
Legumes are a great low glycemic vegetable, packed with protein, vitamins and minerals.
150g cooked legumes (four bean mix is ideal)
One onion, diced finely
One clove garlic, crushed
One stalk celery, diced finely
100g carrot, diced finely
One bay leaf
One litre beef stock
One tablespoon olive oil
Saute onion, garlic, carrot and celery gently in the oil for a few minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Taste test for salt, add a little dried oregano or tomato paste if you prefer.