A consortium of researchers from 8 European countries can now unveil the results of the world’s largest diet study: If you want to maintain weight, you should consume a diet that is high in proteins with more lean meat, low-fat dairy products and beans and fewer finely refined starch calories such as
white bread and white rice.
With this diet, you can also eat until you are full without counting calories and without gaining weight.
Finally, the extensive study concludes that the official dietary recommendations are not sufficient for preventing
The large-scale randomised study called Diogenes has investigated the optimum diet composition for preventing weight gain.
The study was conducted by eight European research centres in Denmark, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Spain and headed by Professor Arne Astrup, DrMedSc and Head of Department at the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) in Copenhagen.
It is funded by an EU grant of EUR 14.5 million.
The results were recently published in the distinguished New England Journal of Medicine and have already attracted considerable international
The objective of the Diogenes study has been to compare the official dietary recommendations in Europe with a diet based on the latest knowledge about the importance of proteins and carbohydrates for appetite regulation.
A total of 772 European families participated, comprising 938 adult family members and 827 children.
The overweight adults initially followed an 800 kcal/day diet for eight weeks, losing an average of 11 kg.
They were then randomly assigned to one of five different low-fat diet types which they followed for six months in order to test which diet was most effective at preventing weight regain.
Throughout the project, the families received expert guidance from dieticians and were asked to provide blood and urine
The Diogenes study shows that the current dietary recommendations are not optimal for preventing weight gain among overweight people.
A diet consisting of a slightly higher protein content and low-GI foods ad libitum appears to be easier to observe and has been documented to ensure that overweight people who have lost weight maintain their weight loss.
Furthermore, the diet results in a spontaneous drop in the prevalence of overweight among their
Eat more proteins and less refined starch (low GI)
The glycemic index is a measure of the ability of carbohydrates to increase blood glucose levels when absorbed in the body. Food with a low-glycemic index (LGI) causes blood glucose levels to increase more slowly and to lower levels compared to high-carbohydrate foods with a high glycemic index.
Drastic increases in blood glucose levels give rise to several potentially undesirable effects that can influence the body’s metabolism as well as our ability to perform mentally.
It is therefore most appropriate to maintain a diet that results in slow digestion and thus more stable blood glucose levels and greater satiety.
A diet with a high protein content contains many protein-rich foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products.
Legumes also contain high levels of protein, as do nuts and almonds.
Proteins are significantly more filling than both carbohydrates and
Special requirements for a low-glycemic diet
The glycemic index applies to carbohydrate-containing foods.
Preferred low-GI fruits are apples, pears, oranges, raspberries and strawberries.
Other types should be eaten with moderation, including bananas (especially overripe bananas), grapes, kiwi, pineapple and melon.
Nearly all vegetables are permitted, with the exception of corn, which should be limited.
Carrots, beets and parsnip should preferably be eaten raw.
With regard to cereal-based foods (bread, grain, corn, hulled grains and breakfast products), the goal is to eat as many coarse and wholegrain foods as possible, i.e. wholegrain breads with many kernels, wholegrain pasta, whole oats and the special varieties of wholegrain cornflakes.
Potatoes should be cooked as little as possible. Try to stick to new potatoes, and it is a good idea to eat them cold. Avoid mashed potatoes and baked potatoes.
Pasta should be cooked al dente and is best eaten cold.
Choose rice varieties such as brown rice, parboiled rice or basmati.
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’.
Recommended GI values:
Over 70 – high GI
55-70 – medium GI
Under 55 – low GI
High-GI foods can still be healthy and vice versa.
Carrots, for instance, have a high GI (72), while chocolate has a low GI (49).
Fats help decrease the absorption of sugar in the blood, which means that fat- and carbohydrate-containing foods can have a low GI.