Healthy living * Weight loss

How to keep the weight off for good

How to keep the weight off for good High protein, low GI diet works best

Losing weight is difficult enough but, as anyone who has ever been on a diet knows, keeping it off is even harder.

However, Danish researchers say they have come up with the perfect diet to lose weight and keep it off.

According to the world's largest diet study, the best way to lose weight is to stick to a high protein/low glycaemic index (GI) diet with more lean meats, low fat dairy products and beans and fewer refined carbohydrates such as white bread and rice.

The researchers say that calorie counting is not needed; people should just eat until they feel full.

The experts from the University of Copenhagen reached their conclusions after comparing five different diets which are recommended for losing and maintaining a healthy weight.

Some 938 overweight adults from eight European countries were put on a strict 800 kcal/day diet for eight weeks, and their weigh loss recorded. The volunteers were then randomly assigned to one of five different low-fat diets, and tracked for six months to find out which diet was best at preventing weight gain.

After the initial eight weeks, the dieters lost an average of 11kg. But after 6 months, they re-gained around 0.5kg. Only those on the high protein/low glycaemic index diet managed to maintain their new weight.

People following a low-protein/high-GI fared worse, and re-gained nearly 2kg in weight.

The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Study leader Professor Arne Astrup from the University of Copenhagen said: "For many years we have been giving people in Europe the wrong advice about how to lose weight and avoid becoming obese.

"Calorie counting hasn't worked and may have made the problem worse because it didn't distinguish between different types of food.

"The new diet composition is much more effective at helping people maintain a healthy weight. It contains a slightly higher protein content and low GI foods, and you can eat as much as you want."

The high protein low-GI diet

Not everyone may find it easy to follow a high protein/low-GI diet. Carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index are digested more slowly and lead to lower and more stable blood glucose levels in the blood. They also make you feel fuller for longer.

In the study, the dieters were allowed to eat as many apples, pears, oranges, raspberries and strawberries as they liked, but only "very limited" amounts of bananas (especially overripe bananas), grapes, kiwi, pineapple and melon.

Vegetables are allowed, but carrots, beets and parsnip should preferably be eaten raw, and potatoes "cooked as little as possible," and eaten cold. No mashed potatoes and no baked beans.

Pasta (wholegrain) should be cooked al dente and is also best eaten cold. Choose rice varieties such as brown rice, parboiled rice or basmati. Bread should also be wholemeal.

White bread without kernels, white rice and sugary breakfast products should be avoided. In general, sugar intake should be limited, not so much because of its GI but to avoid all those 'empty calories'.

Proteins are more filling than both carbohydrates and fat. You should choose from protein-rich foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and low-fat dairy products.

Typical daily menu


Low-fat milk with muesli (without added sugar), wholegrain crispbread with low-fat cheese, an orange


Wholegrain rye bread with lean meat or chicken, mackerel in tomato sauce with a selection of vegetables


Stir-fried turkey with vegetables and wholegrain pasta, avocado salad with feta cheese and sugar peas

Morning and afternoon snacks

Vegetable sticks and low-fat cheese sticks Wholegrain rye bread with low-fat liver pâté and cucumber


Water or low-fat milk with meals.

This article was published on Thu 25 November 2010

Image © PinkShot -

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