Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"New" news on diet and losing weight

It's not actually a new idea that fat in foods isn't what makes people gain weight, but today NPR ran an article about the newest study to find this out.  The study compared dieters who cut fat versus dieters who cut carbs, and found those with the higher-fat, lower-carb diets actually lost more weight -- 12 pounds versus 4 pounds -- than those who ate higher-carb, lower-fat diets.

Cutting Back On Carbs, Not Fat, May Lead To More Weight Loss

Again, it's not a new idea that high-fat foods don't actually make us fat.  I think this study is failing to connect to the next dot, though: Gaining weight (or losing it) is a simple numbers game.  It's about calories, not fat versus carbs -- calories consumed versus calories expended.  If you eat more than you burn, you'll gain weight, and if you eat less, you'll lose it.  Simple.

The other piece this article seems to be missing is differentiating on whether the "high carb/low fat" group was eating reduced fat foods.  Those foods have a lot of other junk in them that I'm sure would affect how effective their diet was at helping them lose weight.  (There are other factors that the article says nothing about, too -- how much the study participants exercised, for one thing -- so I have no idea whether the study accounted for them or not.)

But I do think these findings have implications for diabetics, if the medical industry will start taking them seriously.  Type 1 diabetics on modern insulins are typically encouraged to eat a higher carb diet for better heart health, and type 2 diabetics are encouraged to lose weight.  How much would it change doctors' recommendations -- and patient results -- if people were encouraged to eat higher-quality, less-processed foods, rather than focusing on fat or carb content?

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