Weight control strategies that are both safe and effective are needed to reduce the rate of the current obesity epidemic. A study published in the Nutrition Journal compared the macronutrient and micronutrient levels in the foods chosen by women following two different weight reduction programs.
Ninety-six generally healthy overweight or obese women were randomly placed into two treatment groups: Traditional Food Group (TFG) or a Meal Replacement Group (MRG). The MRG included the use of 1-2 meal replacement drinks or bars per day. Both groups aimed to restrict energy levels to approximately 1,300 calories per day. After one year, weight loss was not significantly different between the groups, and both groups had macronutrient (Carbohydrate: Protein:Fat) ratios that were within the ranges recommended. Both groups experienced an improved dietary pattern with respect to decreased saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, with increased total servings/day of fruits and vegetables. However, the TFG had a significantly lower dietary intake of several vitamins and minerals compared to the MRG and was at greater risk for inadequate intake.
Although both groups successfully lost weight while improving overall dietary adequacy, the group incorporating fortified meal replacements tended to have the adequate essential nutrient intake compared to the group following a more traditional food group diet. This study supports the need to incorporate fortified foods and/or dietary supplements while following an energy-restricted diet for weight loss. Think: fewer calories can potentially mean less nutrition for your body. But according to this study, it does not have to be this way.
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