Can Counting Calories Be a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Most of us are aware that dieting isn’t the most effective way to lose weight. That is until now.

A new study from the United Kingdom showed that overweight and obese people who followed a low calorie diet plan lost a significantly greater amount of weight than those on a calorie-counting diet.

Specifically, the study’s participants were placed on one of the following diets:

  • Calorie-counting diet (based on the MRC dietary guidelines) which aimed to restrict calorie intake to below-recommended levels;
  • Low calorie diet (based on the NHS dietary guidelines) which aimed to restrict calorie intake to below-recommended levels;
  • Low carbohydrate diet (NHS) which aimed to replace carbohydrates with fat, reducing calorie intake;
  • Flexitarion diet consisting of four meals per day; and
  • Vegan diet (based on the MRC guidelines) which consisted of a meat-free diet with no meat, fish, or eggs.

After 12 weeks, those following the low calorie diet plans lost 10.2% of their body weight on average compared to those on the calorie-counting and low carbohydrate diets who had lost 5.8% of their body weight. The vegan diet group, although low in calories, managed to achieve a 6% weight loss.

So, if you’re overweight or obese and want to lose some weight, consider following one of these diets instead of trying to count calories.

Key Facts About The Study

The research team from the University of Cambridge conducted a clinical trial involving 719 overweight or obese participants who were aged between 18 and 70. The aim was to assess the effectiveness of different diet plans in helping participants to reduce their weight. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), United Kingdom. Participants were from primary care practices in the United Kingdom and were drawn from the community. Around half of the participants were recruited via social media.

The researchers had different expectations for the effectiveness of the diets. They thought that the low calorie diet would be the most effective plan and that the other diets based on the MRC guidelines would be as effective as the low calorie one. They were somewhat surprised to find out that the low carb diet was the least effective of the five tested diets and that the calorie-counting diet was the most effective.

Why The Results Matter

The results of the study are significant because it showed that diets which were simpler to follow were more effective in helping people to lose weight. The ideal diet for the study’s participants was the one which they could comply with easily and for the longest amount of time. Those results show that even a small amount of weight loss can make a big difference. This, in turn, could lead to fewer people developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease as a result of their weight. The UK Health Technology Assessment Program states that “dietary manipulation is a promising therapeutic option for obesity, and the results of this study lend support to this recommendation.”

The study also showed that the vegan and flexitarion diets were significantly more effective than the other three diets tested. The reason for this is that the participants on these two plans didn’t have to worry about following a restrictive diet as there was no set number of calories or foods they had to follow. The vegan diet plan, for example, allowed participants to eat more vegetables and fruit while avoiding meat, fish, and eggs.

These results show that, for people who want to lose weight, replacing a few unhealthy meals with healthy ones can make a big difference. Instead of having to count calories or follow a complicated diet, those following the vegan and flexitarion diets could eat what they want and still lose weight effectively. This suggests that, for some people, a plant-based diet could be the answer they are looking for.

What The Results Mean For Patients

The study results are very positive from a patient perspective because they show that even those on limited budgets could follow a diet which helped them to lose weight. The vegan and flexitarion diets, which allowed participants to eat more vegetables and fruit than the other tested diets, are simple to follow. This, in turn, could help patients to adhere to the diets more effectively and, as a result, better manage their health. If a patient feels that a diet which allows them to eat more vegetables is more effective in helping them to lose weight, then they could easily adhere to that plan. This, in turn, could help them to achieve better health outcomes and have fewer complications from diet-related diseases.

In light of the UK’s rising obesity rates, the results of this study are very positive as they suggest that even those on limited budgets could follow a diet which helped them to lose weight. This, in turn, could help them to adhere to the diets more effectively and, as a result, better manage their health. If a patient feels that a diet which allows them to eat more vegetables is more effective in helping them to lose weight, then they could easily adhere to that plan. This, in turn, could help them to achieve better health outcomes and have fewer complications from diet-related diseases.

Further Reading About The Study

If you’re interested in learning more about the study, you could read the following: