For those who like to eat often, there may be a diet plan for you. And for those who want to stick with just cutting calories, that still works to some degree.
A recently published study found that a diet consisting of several mini meals a day worked just as well as other diets in helping patients with metabolic syndrome lose body fat. In addition, diets that included recipes with more antioxidants helped shed extra pounds.
As the obesity epidemic continues to grow, researchers are looking for different ways to help people lose weight. The findings of this research study showed how this new diet helped individuals lose weight and prevent complications linked to obesity.
Diets that focus on nutritional alternatives rather than cutting calories to combat obesity are under investigation.
One of these relatively new diet plans, called RESMENA-S (Metabolic Syndrome Reduction in Navarra-Spain), accounts for how often meals are consumed, what nutrients are included and whether there are any bioactive ingredients like antioxidants as measured with the dietary total antioxidant capacity (TAC).
Researchers, led by Patricia Lopez-Legarrea, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Physiology at the University of Navarra in Spain, looked at how this new diet program helped to combat obesity.
The study included 96 adults with signs of metabolic syndrome. The syndrome consists of several disorders that increase the odds of having a stroke, coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes.
Half of the participants were randomly assigned to the RESMENA-S diet program, which calls for seven mini-meals each day.
To compare, the other participants were assigned to a diet based on guidelines by the American Heart Association (AHA). This diet calls for three to five meals a day and different percentages of carbohydrates, fat and protein.
The AHA diet does not normally take dietary TAC into account. To determine whether the measure makes a difference in weight loss, researchers tracked the dietary TAC of the AHA diet by allotting specific food options to the AHA group.
Participants were given a nutritional assessment every two weeks over an eight-week period. After that time, the participants were instructed to keep to their diet for another four months on their own.
The researchers found that both diets improved signs of metabolic syndrome. However, dietary TAC was most influential on waist size, fat mass, body weight and body mass index (BMI), or the ratio of a person's height and weight.
Participants who consumed a diet with a higher dietary TAC lost about 16.5 pounds on average, compared to less than 14 pounds by participants with a lower dietary TAC.
Around the waist, higher dietary TAC participants lost a little more than three inches while lower dietary TAC lost a little less than two and a half inches.
"Regarding these anthropometric measurements, our findings are in accordance with previous studies that also reported benefits of dietary TAC and antioxidants compounds on adiposity and obesity indicators," researchers wrote in their report.
"This link may be associated with a reduction of cardiovascular risk, as previously described in other populations," they wrote.
The authors noted that the number of people they studied was small and future research could look at younger populations.
The Health Department of the Government of Navarra, the University of Navarra and CIBERobn and RETICS funded the study, which was published February 13 in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism.
The authors did not declare any conflicts of interest.