We’re always interested in looking at the science and efficacy of weight-loss diets. Our team doesn’t advocate for diets. If your doctor prescribes you a diet, you should follow it. But, if you want to manage your weight on your own, we generally think the best way to do it is by eating a varied diet of healthy foods. Diets with rules and foods that are off-limits often backfire and can lack essential nutrients.
However, we know that some people like following diets. Because of that, we examine popular and new diets to learn more about them so that we can give a researched opinion about if they are safe and if they might be effective. After all, while we aren’t fans, we know that everyone is different and different methods work for other people!
A new diet from UC San Diego is designed to help people listen to their hunger cues rather than count calories. In a study, people who followed the “Regulation of Cues” approach to weight loss lost five pounds on average. People who followed a more traditional weight loss diet focused on healthy foods and calories lost 9.5 pounds. But, the people on the traditional diet were three times more like to stop dieting or experience “loss of control eating.”
The researchers say that their approach to dieting could help people who have a food addiction and people who have a hard time recognizing when they feel full. The Regulation of Cues approach trains people to ignore cravings for food when they aren’t hungry. Many of us reach for tasty things when we aren’t hungry. The approach trains people to think about food less.
“Individuals who need help losing weight can seek out the Regulation of Cues program if behavioral weight loss did not work for them, if they feel they have trouble resisting eating or if they never feel full,” said Kerri Boutelle, a professor of public health at the UC San Diego.
Participants in the study were asked to exercise for 150 minutes a week. Then, they were sorted into three groups. The people in a control group were given nutritional education, social support and mindfulness training. The people in the traditional diet group were given a diet to follow with restricted calorie-dense foods and a calorie-counting component. The people in the third group were trained in behavioral weight loss and how to manage hunger cues.
We like that this diet teaches people new behavior and doesn’t restrict the types of food a person following it can eat. That does make it far easier to stick with and allows you to have a varied diet. This was a clinical trial and hasn’t been rolled out as a book or program for the public. But, overall, this isn’t a diet that we would call unhealthy. Without being able to review what the training methods are, we can’t say whether or not it could lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with food. It claims to teach people how not to obsess over food. If that’s true, it could be a beneficial weight loss tool. But, until more information is available, we’ll reserve our judgment. Preliminarily, we’re excited to see where this research goes. It could be that this diet trains people to approach eating in a positive way that allows them to lose and maintain a healthy weight. But, we wouldn’t suggest jumping in with both feet until more is known about it.