It has long been said that fad diets don't work, and further research has supported these claims by showing that making consistent changes to eating habits will lead to the most sustainable weight loss over time.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed the dietary habits of 120,000 people for 16 years. It found that those who routinely ate a lot of foods with a high glycemic load gained more weight than those who ate more foods with a low glycemic load.
High GI foods can lead to weight gain
High GI foods include sugar, refined carbohydrates and grains, while nuts, dairy, and some fruits and vegetables are considered low GI foods.
While the findings were nothing new, one interesting thing they did discover was how the foods you pair together can affect weight gain or weight loss.
For example, while eating foods like eggs and cheese with low GI foods such as vegetables can lead to weight loss, adding high GI foods can cause weight gain.
People who ate more low GI foods such as nuts, dairy and fruit and vegetables lost more weight
So an omelette with cheese, spinach and fresh peppers could aid weight loss, but add toast into the mix and you could be more likely to gain weight.
Researchers also found that those who ate more yoghurt, seafood, skinless chicken and nuts lost the most weight, and the more they ate of these foods, the less weight they gained.
However they found no difference in weight gain between those who ate full fat vs low fat dairy products.
Diets with more red and processed meats were linked with weight gain
They made an interesting observation about meat-eaters too; diets with more red and processed meats were linked with weight gain, particularly when paired with starchy foods or refined grains – for example steak and chips.
But when the meat is paired with low GI foods like vegetables, weight gain was reduced.
The researchers found that in general the best diets for weight loss were those high in protein-rich foods, while avoiding refined grains and sugars also helped, as did cutting red meat consumption and substituting with lean proteins such as skinless chicken and eggs.
So when planning your meals aim to fill your plate with lean proteins and low-GI vegetables first, aiming to minimise grains and starches to lose or maintain your weight over time.