Individualized eating program helps dieters lose weight, keep it off

An individualized diet program that empowers users to create their own plan based on targeted levels of protein and fiber shows promise at helping people lose extra pounds and keep them off.

The Individualized Diet Improvement Program is a self-guided approach that involves easy-to-use tools, according to the nutritionists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who created iDip.

“Our program does not provide or offer a strict diet plan or recipes for participants to follow,” said graduate student Mindy H. Lee, a co-author of the study. “We’re not excluding food groups as low-carbohydrate or low-fat plans do. The primary goal is to empower dieters to make informed choices so they can create their own sustainable weight-management program.”

Diet flexibility is key to making weight loss and maintenance sustainable, said study co-author Manabu T. Nakamura, a professor of nutrition at the university.

“The problem with currently available commercial weight-loss programs and products is that the magnitude of dieters’ weight loss is not great,” he said. “The more serious problem is that people can’t maintain it.

“If they follow the program or consume only the foods they’re told to for four or six months, they lose a certain amount of weight, but when they quit following the program or buying the products the weight comes right back. And that’s very discouraging for them.”

A visual tool developed by the researchers plots dieters’ protein and fiber intake, helping them choose foods that reduce their overall calories without reducing their protein and fiber.

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