Does where calories come from matter to weight maintenance? A new study says yes, but I?m skeptical.
I?m still skeptical. The subjects in this study lost and maintained weight under highly controlled, calorie-restricted conditions, in which the calories came from a relatively low-fat, moderate-carbohydrate, high-protein diet (average diets contain 10% to 15% protein).
The accompanying editorial notes that heat losses are greater for protein than for carbohydrate or fat, and also raises questions about whether physical activity declined more with the low-fat (high-carb) diet than the others. It also notes:
Each diet was consumed for only 4 weeks. A weight stabilization protocol?may not have adequately accounted for changing energy needs associated with readjustment to new diets.
These provocative results?emphasize the current incomplete knowledge base regarding the importance of dietary macronutrients and energy expenditure, especially after weight loss.
Under the relatively short, highly controlled feeding conditions of this study, the composition of the diet may indeed matter to metabolism. But does diet composition matter for weight maintenance in the real world?
Other longer term studies of ?free-living? people out and about in their communities show little difference in weight loss or maintenance between one kind of diet and another.
The bottom line
If you want to lose weight, eat less (it worked well for the subjects in this study).
It may help to avoid excessive consumption of sugars and easily absorbed carbohydrates.
Once you?ve lost weight, adjust your calorie intake to maintain the weight loss.
And understand that science has no easy answers to the weight-loss problem.
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