Tag Archives: Weight

Counting Calories May Not Be Key to Weight Loss, Study

If you have ever been on a diet, you know that the formula for weight loss is to limit the amount of calories you intake.

Counting Calories

If you eat quality foods you can still lose weight without counting calories, study. Photo by Diet Doctor

According to a new study, published in JAMA, that advice may not be so relevant. It found that individuals who reduced refined grains, processed foods and added sugar while focusing on eating whole foods and plenty of vegetables — without stressing about limiting portion sizes or counting calories — lost a good amount of pounds over a year.

The plan worked whether they followed diets that were low in carbs or low in fat. Also, their results were not affected by genetics or insulin-response to carbs. The findings bring support to the fact that quality, not quantity is what really helps people lose and maintain their weight for long term.

This should encourage Americans to focus more on eliminating processed foods that contain refined starches and added sugar like refined flour, sugary snacks and white bread instead of calorie counting.

The study was led by Christopher D. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. During research, 600 overweight or obese people were split into two groups, “healthy” low carb and “healthy low fat. Both members attended classes with dietitians where they were trained to eat nutrient-dense, less processed whole foods, prepared at home whenever possible.

The low-fat group was encouraged eat oats, brown rice, fresh fruits, legumes and low-fat dairy products. The low-fat group was trained to eat salmon, hard cheese, vegetables, grass-fed and pasture-raised animal foods.

Unlike previous studies, this one did not set restrictive carb or fat limits but instead emphasize that they focus eating whole or “real” foods. “The unique thing is that we didn’t ever set a number for them to follow,” Dr. Gardner said.

Obviously, many dieters do regain the weight they lose, and this study cannot determine if the participants will maintain their new habits. There was a large variability in both groups although people on average lost a significant amount of weight. Some gained weight and others lost 50 to 60 pounds. The ones who lost the most weight reported that the study “changed their relationship with food.”

I think keeping track of everything you eat while trying to burn all those calories with physical activity is very stressful and in the long run, you give up. I believe that focusing on high quality foods is a much better approach.

Dr. Gardner said many of the people in the study were surprised — and relieved — that they did not have to restrict or even think about calories.

“A couple weeks into the study people were asking when we were going to tell them how many calories to cut back on,” he said. “And months into the study they said, ‘Thank you! We’ve had to do that so many times in the past.’”

After one year, the low-carb group lost an average of 13 pounds, while those in the low-fat group lost about 12 pounds. Both groups also saw improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar levels, body fat and waist sizes.

Researchers took DNA samples and analyzed genetic variants to find out that it did not affect their responses to the diets.

The most important thing about this study is to focus more on diet quality and not tracking how many calories you have consumed. If you eat more whole foods, vegetables, less added sugar and less refined grains, you can really increase your chances of weight loss.

Gardner CD, Trepanowski JF, Del Gobbo LC, Hauser ME, Rigdon J, Ioannidis JPA, Desai M, King AC. Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin SecretionThe DIETFITS Randomized Clinical TrialJAMA. 2018;319(7):667–679. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0245

Leeman Taylor
B.S. Criminal Justice

‘Biggest Loser’ Study Reveals Struggle After Weight Loss

Everyone knows how difficult it is to lose weight if you have ever been on a diet. More important, once you do have weight loss success, keeping the weight off is another struggle. A recent study involving contestants from TV show “The Biggest Loser” demonstrates what really happens after weight loss.

Biggest Loser - Weight Loss

‘Biggest Loser’ study shows how difficult it is to keep the weight off, years later. Photo by Reality Tea

In the study, all but one contestant had regained at least some of the weight lost after six years, during the 30-week TV competition, according to Obesity.  The participants had regained about 90 pounds or 70 percent of the weight they lost. This just demonstrates how hard it is to fight obesity and maintain a healthy weight, even with a competition that has incentives.

There is no magic pill or formula for fat loss but here are a few answers to questions for people who are struggling with weight loss:

If you lose weight slowly, are you more likely to maintain weight loss?

Although many dieters get this advice, studies have shown otherwise including a recent Australian study. In this study, 204 obese people were instructed on live on 450 to 800 calories a day for 3 months, or limit themselves to 400 to 500 calories a day for 36 weeks. The overall goal was a 15 percent weight loss. After three years, almost everyone regained the weight they had lost, regardless of the counseling on diet and exercise. There was no change in the levels of the two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which increases hunger. More individuals in the rapid weight loss group did lose at least 12 percent of their weight (80 percent, compared to 50 percent in the slow loss group) and fewer called it quits (3 percent, compared to 18 percent).

Will you maintain a higher metabolism if you build muscle through exercise, such as weight lifting?

Muscle does burn more calories than fat, so you may think that the more muscle you have, the faster you will burn calories. In fact, a study showed that building muscle has nearly no effect on resting metabolism, which is the amount of calories a person burns while at rest. According to the study, the muscle we build is small compared to the total amount of skeletal muscle on our body. This muscle is at rest most of the time and no one can go around and flex their muscles all day.

Should you avoid snacks to maintain weight loss?

Even though it seems that snacking packs on the extra pounds, studies that randomly assigned individuals to snack or not have not confirmed this, and even studies that observed people have not found that snacks undermine fat loss.

Is there a certain type of diet that keeps weight off?

Many individuals are convinced that low fat or low carb diets are the best for weight loss. However, Dr. Lee Kaplan, an obesity researcher at Harvard, says that there is no weight loss program or diet that is guaranteed to work but that individuals can often keep a loss of 5 percent of their weight, which comes with many health benefits. He tells his patients to try different weight loss programs until they find one that works for them.

Will doing vigorous cardiovascular exercises after weight loss speed up your body’s slowed metabolism?

As long as you are not consuming more calories than you burn you are okay. Although this sounds like a simple task, “this is not as easy a proposition as it sounds,” says Dr. Michael Rosenbaum, a doctor and obesity researcher at Columbia University. The brain controls your hunger and your food cravings, and it is very easy to accidentally consume more calories than you burned exercising. That is a major reason studies that use exercise alone to help individuals lose weight have usually failed to find an effect. Did you know that after you lose 10 percent of your weight by diet alone, your muscles begin using genes that make them more efficient? They actually burn 20 to 30 percent fewer calories for the exact exercise.

Is there hope for weight maintenance?

Do not let this Obesity study discourage you if you are currently overweight or obese. This research is just to show you that anyone can be treated if they seek help sooner and start now. Weight loss is a lifelong process that includes proper dieting, daily physical activity, counseling, medication or even surgery. The best option is to consult with your physician about a weight loss plan that fits you and start your journey for a healthier life today!

Leeman Taylor
Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice
Real Estate Investor & Internet Marketer

Source: Fothergill, E., Guo, J., Howard, L., Kerns, J. C., Knuth, N. D., Brychta, R., Chen, K. Y., Skarulis, M. C., Walter, M., Walter, P. J. and Hall, K. D. (2016), “Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.21538 May 2 2016  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21538/full

Kolata, G. “Short Questions to Hard Answers about Weight Loss” The New York Times May 4 2016 www.nytimes.com