With all the hundreds of diets available, from variations on low-carb to gluten-free to Paleo to vegan, choosing the right weight loss plan can get complicated. Now a new study, however, is simplifying the process by revealing that counting calories is the best way to take off the pounds, reported Medical News Today on March 26.
And despite the conventional wisdom that eating frequent small meals wins for weight loss, the researchers concluded that nothing works as well as old-fashioned calorie-counting. To conduct the study, they analyzed men and women who ate two meals a day or five meals a day. Neither made a difference in weight loss.
"What matters most for losing weight is counting calories," concluded lead researcher Dr. Milan Kumar Piya of the University of Warwick in the UK.
"If you eat two meals or five, as long as it's the same number of calories; there is no difference in energy expenditures, so there is no effect on weight loss," added Piya, according to a March 27 MedicineNet report.
Concurring with the results: Michelle Kulovitz Alencar, an assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University, San Bernardino.
"In my own research, I have found that it's all about calorie intake," she said, emphasizing that it's counting calories, not the number of meals and snacks eaten, that make the difference for weight loss.
How to use the results of this study to boost your own weight loss:
- Keep a food journal and log your calories carefully. If you eat out frequently, look for a guide that includes restaurant and fast food calorie counts, such as the "CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter 2014" (click for details).
- Remember to include your beverages, such as sodas, coffee drinks and juices.
- If you enjoy cooking, measure all ingredients and check their calories prior to cooking up the meal. Make it simpler with cookbooks that provide the calorie counts for you, such as "Hungry Girl to the Max!: The Ultimate Guilt-Free Cookbook."