Dietary Do's and Don'ts for Weight Control

Long-term weight control may be affected by changes in protein and carbohydrate intake


There’s the low-carb diet, the low-fat diet and countless options in between. But which diet is good for weight control? New evidence outlines some do's and don'ts for long-term weight control.

What’s for dinner? Hopefully not red meat, according to the authors of a new study. This study found that eating large amounts of red and processed meats was tied to long-term weight gain. However, foods like yogurt, seafood, chicken and nuts were linked to weight loss.

The authors of this study noted that making small but consistent changes in the types of protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods you eat could have the biggest impact on long-term weight gain.

"Our study adds to growing new research that counting calories is not the most effective strategy for long-term weight management and prevention," said senior study author Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School at Tufts University, in a press statement.

So which foods should you eat? Which should you avoid?

Red meat was tied to weight gain. But eating red meat with vegetables reduced some of that associated weight gain, these researchers found.

Instead of loading up on steak, stock the kitchen with yogurt, seafood, skinless chicken and nuts. These were shown to help with weight loss.

And there's delightful news for dairy-lovers. Full-fat cheese and whole milk did not appear to significantly affect weight.

However, you might want to skip the low-fat dairy products.

"The fat content of dairy products did not seem to be important for weight gain," said lead study author Jessica D. Smith, PhD, in a press statement. "In fact, when people consumed more low-fat dairy products, they actually increased their consumption of carbs, which may promote weight gain. This suggests that people compensate, over years, for the lower calories in low-fat dairy by increasing their carb intake."

Eggs and cheese also made the list. Dr. Smith and team noted that these two foods were not linked to weight change.

These food findings were the result of studying 16 years of data on around 120,000 men and women.

“Our findings suggest we should not only emphasize specific protein-rich foods like fish, nuts, and yogurt to prevent weight gain, but also focus on avoiding refined grains, starches, and sugars in order to maximize the benefits of these healthful protein-rich foods, create new benefits for other foods like eggs and cheese, and reduce the weight gain associated with meats," Dr. Mozaffarian said.

This study was published April 9 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.