Food Supplementation: The key to sticking to a healthy diet?
Many people struggle to keep on track when it comes to a healthy diet. This is particularly true for those looking to lose weight. However, recent research suggests that food supplementation may be key in the ‘battle of the bulge’.
A study recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition aimed to look at the way that supplementing specific foods could impact on weight loss. The systematic review and meta-analysis looked at control trials that were using food supplements to aid in weight-loss.
What Are Food Supplements?
The main focus of the review was the efficacy of using food supplements. Food supplements are different to nutritional supplements. They are the supplementation of specific foods to be consumed by someone as part of a dietary program.
The individual can incorporate these foods into their diet as it suits them – some may use them as snacks, others may add them to meals. Either way, food supplements are usually nutrient-dense foods that are staples of the diet being trialled. For example, olives are a common food supplement for the Mediterranean diet. Foods are also often high in satiating nutrients such as fibre.
The general findings of the research was that provision of food supplements did assist in weight-loss efforts. It found that in trials where the intervention group was supplemented with a food, there was significant weight loss compared to the control group.
This was particularly obvious in studies that had a diet reduced in energy, and in studies that provided support through dietary counselling. Integrating the food supplied into the diet itself was also important.
The researchers had several potential theories as to why food supplements aid in weight loss. The main belief is that supplements act as an incentive to stick with a diet plan. They may also encourage the participant to eat less overall, particularly if the foods are designed to replace unhealthy snacks.
However, they did note that in order to achieve weight loss, the foods must be incorporated into a reduced-energy diet. Food supplements alone may not be enough to instigate weight loss. People will generally still need the support of on-going dietary counselling and the encouragement to continue their efforts.
The Bottom Line
Supplying specific nutrient-dense foods for the diet is only one of a number of factors for successful weight loss. For the best results, these foods need to be combined with emotional support and a professional to motivate the person.