Lose Weight By Counting… Something

I remember a few years ago, the Atkin’s Diet was the latest fad circulating among people trying to shed those extra pounds. Now all I see on TV are the Nutrisystem commercials advertising high protein, pre-portioned meals. However, according to a very recent and important study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, calories matter, but the type is more or less irrelevant.

The three major contributors to a food’s total caloric value are carbohydrates (4 calories/gram), proteins (4 calories/gram) and fats (9 calories/gram). Our body tends to utilize all three for energy in a certain order based on the type of activity, a person’s genetics, etc. It was once thought that by reducing the intake of carbs (considered to be the primary fuel source), our bodies would be forced to burn more fat calories. Now the high-protein trend plays on the fact that protein helps build muscle (and helps suppress appetite for longer intervals), and an increased muscle mass burns more calories at rest.

The NEJM study basically had several groups assigned to consume varying levels of carbs, proteins, and fats over time. The researchers had the following conclusion: “Reduced-calorie diets result in clinically meaningful weight loss regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize.”

Now this doesn’t mean you should consume 2,000 calories worth of donuts per day, because obviously, donuts don’t have all the other nutrients your body requires. Heh, what a shame! 😉 It’s interesting, however, that many of our previous diet conceptions involving the control of macronutrients may indeed be inaccurate.

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