Chapter 10

The Role of Macronutrients in Diets for Weight Control

Cátia Braga-Pontes, Vânia S. Ribeiro and Cidália D. Pereira

Abstract

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the last decades and as so successful weight loss diets have been pursuit. Different dietary approaches, with distinct macronutrients distribution, have been studied. Low-fat, low-carbohydrate and/or high-protein diets are among the most used diets for obesity research and in clinical practice. However, their effects on obesity management, including in metabolic complications often associated, are not completely clarified. Moreover, additional questions arose inside each macronutrient group, being the following ones just a few: are all sugars equal for weight control? How does saturated vs. unsaturated fatty acids ingestion affect weight loss? What are the differences between animal or vegetable protein intake, regarding weight management? Taking all evidence together, it seems impossible to define an ideal macronutrients’ distribution for weight loss and maintenance that fits everyone. Energy-restricted diets continue to be the most successful weight loss strategy, independently of macronutrient distribution. However, severe restriction of fat or carbohydrates do not seem to have an additional benefit for weight control as compared to a more balanced macronutrient distribution, as occurs in Mediterranean diet. Importantly, diets must be individualized and based on the personal and cultural preferences in order to promote a successful weight loss and maintenance in the long-term.

Total Pages: 236-270 (35)

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