No dieting silver bullets, expert says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags keto diet Paleo Diets Weight management ketogenic keto Weight loss Sports nutrition Unmetered

Sports nutrition products are often linked to certain diet plans, such as ketogenic diets, high protein/low fat approaches and others. A nutrition expert says the prosaic takeaway is that all of these have been shown to work, provided that consumers can stick to the lower calorie intakes implied in these approaches.

That message was delivered by Chad Kerksick, PhD, director fo the Exercise and Performance Nutrition Lab at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO.  Kerksick was speaking at the recently concluded Sports & Active Nutrition Summit, which took place in San Diego.

Some sports nutrition firms have latched onto co-marketing approaches with various popular diet plans, such as bringing out ‘keto’ lines of products.  This has been done partly to better connect with current consumer preferences and so boost sales.  And, insofar as these dieting concepts work, it could also be said to have helped the end users meet their goals.

Diets all work the same: They restrict calories

So, do these diets actually work?  Is there a secret code out there that makes weight loss success more attainable?

“It’s really not very exciting to a lot of people, but the long term path for weight loss and improving your body composition is you’ve got to figure out a way to cut calories from your diet. And a lot of the approaches we talked about usually do a good job of that,”​ Kerksick said.

Some of these diets, such as ketogenic diets, paleo diets and others, are pushed to consumers with claims that they are in some way biochemically superior.  “The human body didn’t evolve to eat ​(fill in the name of your favorite bogeyman foodstuff)​ or other similar arguments are frequently brought forth.

But in the end, Kerksick said that his research has revealed that when that kind of rhetoric is stripped away, these diet approaches work because by following them people simply ate fewer calories.  It could be true that some of these approaches are easier to stick to than others (the keto diet in particular has been reported to be difficult in this regard), but the base mechanism of action is the same in all cases, he said.

Keep the protein high

So, long story short, Kerksick said that if people eat less, they will lose weight.  But he added that there are important nuances to keep in mind in that otherwise simple picture.  Keeping protein intake high while cutting calories is key, he said.

“That helps to facilitate some more favorable weight loss, and by favorable I mean, we want people to lose fat.  We don’t want them to just lose weight,” ​he said.

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