Objective: This research examined the effectiveness of a weight loss diet incorporating high protein pasta and breakfast cereal products as compared to a weight loss diet using conventional versions of gluten-free pasta and breakfast cereal.
Design: In a 6-week parallel-arm food trial (representing the first phase of a 12-week cross-over trial), 26 overweight and obese (Mean BMI 43.1 ± 12.4 kg/m²) participants, free of related comorbidities, were randomly assigned to the Zone diet (~29% energy intake from protein) or a control diet (~9% energy from protein). Participants were included in the trial if they satisfied the criteria for elevated risk for metabolic syndrome (top half of the TG/HDL ratios of all who were tested). Participants were instructed to eat prepared meals (total of 7 cereal packets and 14 pasta meals weekly) that included patented food technologies for the Zone diet and commercially available gluten-free rice pasta and a conventional name brand boxed cereal for the control diet. Body composition was measured with a bioelectrical impedance scale at weeks 1, and 6. Food records and diet adherence were recorded daily by the participants.
Results: Both the Zone and control diets resulted in significant weight loss (-2.9 ± 3.1 kg vs. -2.7 ± 2.6 kg respectively) over time (p = 0.03) but not between groups (p = 0.96). Although not statistically significant, the Zone diet appears to have influenced more weight loss at trial weeks 3, 4, and 5 (p = 0.46) than the control diet. The change in FFM was significant (p = 0.02) between the Zone and control groups (1.4 ± 3.6 kg vs. -0.6 ± 1.5 kg respectively) at week-6. Study adherence did not differ significantly between diet groups (p = 0.53).
Conclusions: Energy-restricted diets are effective for short-term weight loss and high protein intake appears to promote protein sparing and preservation of FFM during weight loss. The macronutrient profile of the diet does not appear to influence calorie intake, but it does appear to influence the quality of weight loss. Other measures of body composition and overall health outcomes should be examined by future studies to appropriately identify the potential health effects between these diet types.