A self-guided, Individualized Diet Improvement Program may be the best approach for people to eat healthier and drop excess weight, according to a new study.
Diet flexibility is key, say a team of nutritionists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who created the ‘iDip’ program.
Co-author Mindy H. Lee said of iDip, “Our program does not provide or offer a strict diet plan or recipes for participants to follow.”
She added: “The primary goal is to empower dieters to make informed choices so they can create their own sustainable weight-management program.”
Professor Manabu T. Nakamura said: “The problem with currently available commercial weight-loss programs and products is that the magnitude of dieters’ weight loss is not great.”
Nakamura said: “The more serious problem is that people can’t maintain it.”
He pointed out that by following commercial diets or eating only the foods they are directed to eat for a few months, they might lose a certain amount of weight.
But when they quit the program or stop buying the products, the weight goes back on and they become extremely disappointed.
The iDip program uses a visual tool to plot the protein and fiber densities per calorie of food in addition to a target range for meals.
It helps people to formulate meals while limiting daily calories to 1,500.
The 14 study participants ranged in age from 24-59 and, were either overweight or obese. They also had conditions such as high blood pressure related to obesity, and had tried at least two commercial diet programs or weight-loss products.
The nutritionists monitored the participants’ progress with daily weigh-ins on a wifi-enabled scale, thus providing each participant weekly data charting their weight loss, intended rate of loss, and six-month goal.
“In the entirety of human history, no culture counted calories,” Nakamura said.
He claims that this approach is unsustainable.
“But weighing daily and recording the trend is a very important tool. It’s easy to sustain over one’s lifetime and is a good habit for anyone who wants to lose weight or maintain their weight,” he said.
According to the study, 12 of the 14 participants finished the program, while half reached the study’s goal of losing at least 5 percent of their body weight and maintained it during the six-month follow-up phase.
The researchers admitted that the number of participants was small, but insisted that the study demonstrates the feasibility of the program.
In an interview with Zenger News, researcher and psychologist Michelle Segar said, “What people have to do to stick with the diet is to have ownership over it.
“They have to feel that it’s something they want to do, rather than something they should do. They have to have strategies and be flexible instead of rigid.”
Segar conducts research funded by the National Institutes of Health at the University of Michigan, where she directs the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy (SHARP) Center. She is the author of the books, The Joy Choice and No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.
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