I just read a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine from June of this year concerning the changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men.
More than 120,000 healthy men and women were observed over the course of 20 years. Their change in weight was evaluated at 4 year intervals.
The results of the study showed that within each 4-year period, study participants gained an average of just over 3 pounds. (Ever notice how easily your weight can creep up over the years?) With a 3 pounds gain being the average – a 4 lb weight loss at one end of the spectrum and 12 lb weight gain at the other end.
For those who gained weight, an increase intake of potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed red meats, and processed meats was observed. (Listed in order – i.e., the foods first in the list had the greatest effect on weight gain.)
Foods that contributed to weight loss? (Again, in order of effectiveness.) Yogurt, nuts, fruits, whole grains and vegetables.
Now I know you can find studies out there that say whatever you might be looking to prove to yourself or someone else, and everyone interprets the results a little differently – but my take away here?
With nuts near the top of the list of foods most strongly associated with pounds lost – it’s a good reminder that we don’t need to fear fat (half an avocado on your giant lunch time salad anyone?) – even in regards to weight loss.
The amount of fat in our meals plays a big part in what leaves us feeling satisfied (as do protein and fiber). Eat healthy fats –> feel fuller longer –> ideally leaving you eating fewer calories over the course of the day.
My favorite sources of fat (in order!): almonds, avocado, hemp seeds, dark chocolate, eggs, coconut, cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, salmon – as well as fat from dairy products like cream and butter – in moderation but still included in my list!
Foods high in fat are high in calories, so don’t go totally nuts (har har har) – but there’s no reason to totally avoid them either. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat foods higher in healthy fats, try not to confuse your mouth for a vacuum (who, me?) and know that high quality dietary fat can actually make weight loss and weight maintenance easier thanks to the satisfaction factor that comes with it.