Losing weight involves a lot of things – it can require anywhere from an overhaul of a person's lifestyle to a change in eating habits and preferences. Dietary habits, in particular, are challenging; it requires a balance between the calories consumed and the energy used.
To achieve this, the research team used a reduced-energy diet as their primary method to help with weight loss. The diet, endorsed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, requires an energy deficit to achieve weight loss. For men, the recommended energy intake is 1,500 to 1,800 kilocalories per day while women must have between 1, 200 to 1,500 kilocalories per day, depending on the body weight and level of physical activity. The report also indicated two main areas for weight loss intervention (or strategies) – namely, lifestyle and diet.
For the study, the research team randomly selected 100 non-diabetic overweight and obese men and women from a screened sample of 647 individuals. Participants were aged 21 years and older, had a body mass index (BMI) between 27 and 40 kilograms per square meter, and did not have an allergy to tree nuts.
Each participant was randomly assigned to either a standard reduced-energy-density diet or a walnut-enriched (15 percent of energy) reduced-energy diet. The team then assessed the participants during follow-up clinic visits on the third and sixth month. Participants were asked to rate their hunger, fullness, and possibility of continuing the diet. Data such as body measurements, blood pressure, physical activity, lipids, tocopherols and fatty acids were also collected and studied using repeated measures mixed models.
The findings revealed that while both groups lost body weight, BMI, and waist circumference, the standard group had a -9.4 percent reduction in weight while the walnut-enriched group posted -8.9. In terms of systolic blood pressure, both groups were able to lower it in the third month, but only the walnut-enriched group was able to sustain it for the sixth month. The group also minimized total cholesterol (from 203 to 194 milligrams per deciliter) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (from 121 to 112 mg/dL) at six months.
Researchers believe that the nutritive properties of the walnut are at work with these results. Walnuts have high levels of gamma-tocopherol, the most common form of vitamin E in the U.S. diet. A separate study revealed that gamma-tocopherol – and not its more famous variant, alpha-tocopherol – had positive outcomes for preventing coronary heart disease. Moreover, it also contains the polyunsaturated fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids. In the study, researchers noted that these nutrients helped support the participants to continue with their diet. The also observed that switching saturated fats with unsaturated fats is associated with the decreased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. (Related: Walnuts found to satiate appetite and give you a feeling of "fullness.")
Of the findings, the researchers wrote: "Findings from this study provide further evidence that a walnut-enriched reduced-energy diet can promote weight loss that is comparable to a standard reduced-energy-density diet in the context of a behavioral weight loss intervention."
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