When it comes to choosing a weight-loss diet to follow, things aren’t always clear-cut. From Atkins to Mediterranean or DASH, there are so many options promising fast results that it can be difficult to decide which is best for you. But as it turns out, it probably doesn’t matter which diet you follow if your goal is to kickstart weight loss.
In a new study published in The BMJ, researchers separated 14 popular diets like Weight Watchers, South Beach, and Atkins into three groups: low-carb, low-fat, and moderate-macronutrient. They looked at the results of 121 randomized trials—a total of 21,942 people following the various diet plans—to find out which are the most effective for weight loss and overall health.
Compared to people who weren’t given any specific diet instructions to follow, those who followed any of the low-carb or low-fat diet plans had similar weight-loss results (about 8-11 pounds) and better blood pressure after six months. People on moderate-macronutrient diets still saw improvements, just slightly less.
The bad news is that by the time the one-year mark came around, the weight-loss and cardiovascular effects of the diets had all but disappeared—except in the case of the the Mediterranean diet, which was also the only one that significantly lowered LDL cholesterol (the bad one) levels.
Each diet plan had slightly different results, but there was no clear winner in the end as far as this study’s authors are concerned. So instead of stressing over choosing a diet that will help you lose the most weight, they suggest going for the strategy that sounds most appealing to you, according to a release.
Considering the way most of the benefits all but came to a halt by just a year later, the most important aspect may be deciding on a strategy to maintain any weight loss and health improvements that come from following a weight-loss diet plan.
Their advice is to take it easy on the sugar, salt and alcohol and eat more vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Hopefully, you’re not shocked by this information. If this is news to you, it may be best to just clean out your fridge and start repopulating it with some healthier ingredients.