The most important thing you need to focus on if you want to prevent further weight gain is total calorie intake, according to a study from the US Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Researchers asked 25 healthy men and women to eat a weight-stabilising diet for 24-25 days, then each was given a different diet to follow. They either had diets containing 5% protein (classed as the low-protein diet), 15% (normal protein) or 25% (high protein). All the study participants had the same number of total calories, however. They had a 10-12 week stay in a metabolic unit during this time.
All study participants gained weight but the rate of weight gain in the low-protein group was significantly less than in the other groups. That might sound as though it proves that a low-protein diet is the way forward, but the results also revealed that lean body mass and resting energy expenditure decreased; body fat accumulation increased similarly for all three groups. Losing lean muscle mass and gaining fat poses health risks and also makes your body less efficient at burning calories, which could result in even more weight gain. It may even leave you larger in size, even if you weigh less, as lean muscle weighs more than body fat. Instead of trying to follow a strict and potentially risky diet regime by cutting down on certain food groups, it’s better to eat a healthy balanced diet but reduce your calorie intake overall by around 300 calories per day. That should allow you to lose a little more than a pound a week (half a kilo) and is much easier to stick to long term than a complicated fad-type diet. If you can up your daily exercise too, you’ll find weight loss even easier. The key is to find dietary and lifestyle changes that you can stick to – otherwise not only do you risk failing, you may also find yourself low in energy and mood. A positive approach is key if you want to succeed!