Looking to lose weight? You probably shouldn't choose your own diet plan, according to a new study.
Researchers predicted that people who chose their own diet plan would lose more weight than those who had no choice in the matter. But the opposite turned out to be true: Over the course of 48 weeks, dieters who chose their own plan lost about 12.5 pounds, while those assigned a diet plan lost about 15 pounds, reported Reuters.
The study, conducted at the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina, surveyed 207 obese adults with a questionnaire that listed 70-plus food items rated on a scale of "like extremely" or "dislike extremely." Using that information, researchers were able to figure out if participants preferred low carb or low fat diets. From there, participants were divided into "choice" and "comparison" groups.
The choice group could choose between a low carb or low fat diet, while the comparison group was randomly assigned one diet or the other. People in the choice group were given the option to change their diet 12 weeks in, but very few actually switched diets.
“We were surprised that people in the choice groups didn't lose more weight," lead study author Dr. William Yancy told The Huffington Post. "The presumption was that giving them the choice would help them stick to the diet better, therefore they’d lose more weight.”
Instead, Yancy theorized, people probably eat more when they like the food they're eating.
The study was small, so more research needs to be conducted before cause and effect is determined. As for us? We're just as stunned as the researchers.