When it comes weight loss, prepackaged portion-controlled meals are more effective than self-selected portions, suggests a recent research.
The University of California researchers found that when combined with behavioral counseling as part of a complete weight-loss intervention , a meal plan incorporating portion-controlled, prepackaged, frozen lunch and dinner entrees can promote greater weight loss than a self-selected diet.
“Participants who were prescribed twice-daily prepackaged meals lost about eight percent of their initial weight, compared to participants in the control group – who could select their own diets – who only lost about six percent,” said lead researcher Cheryl Rock.
Rock added, “What’s more, our study found that food satisfaction was comparable among all groups, which is a critical factor that may determine long-term usefulness of this strategy. We believe that removing the complexity of planning and preparing low-calorie meals was beneficial to the participants in the intervention.”
The team assigned 183 study participants to three groups: one that was prescribed two prepackaged meals per day, one that was prescribed two prepackaged meals per day that were higher in protein and the control group that was allowed to select their own meals.
“Reduction in energy intake is a key factor to weight loss, but it can be difficult for most individuals with overweight or obesity to put into practice,” said Martin Binks, spokesperson for The Obesity Society. “This type of strategy is a step toward implementing effective, evidence-based solutions to obesity.”
The biggest limitation to the study is the lack of detailed dietary intake data. Longer term studies that carefully measure adherence to this type of program would be beneficial.