Eating Well

Weight Loss Is Not About Counting Calories

  • The verdict comes from the Stanford Prevention Research Center, which invested $8 million in a study of diet and weight gain (or loss) that involved 600 people. The New York Times reports on the research, which divided participants into two diet groups, one called “healthy” low carb and on called “healthy” low fat. Participants in both groups were instructed about how to eat nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods.  The low-fat group was told to eat foods like brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, quinoa, fresh fruit and legumes, and to avoid soda, fruit juice, muffins, white rice and white bread. The low-carb group, the Times reports, was trained to choose nutritious foods like olive oil, salmon, avocados, hard cheeses, vegetables, nut butters, nuts and seeds, and grass-fed and pasture-raised animal foods. Neither group altered their exercise routines, and neither group was told to limit calorie intake. So what happened? After one year, everyone lost weight. People in the low carb group lost an average of 13 pounds, and people in the low fat group lost an average of 11.7 pounds. Pretty much everyone lost body fat and lowered blood pressure. It’s true, the researchers admit, that people in both groups did reduce their caloric intake from the pre-study days, but they are convinced that the weight loss had less to do with calorie reduction than with eating better, meaning more vegetables, more whole foods, and less added sugar and less refined grains.

One Comment

  1. Renee Plaut

    Tell me results after adding two more groups, one low fat group with the same criteria, except also cutting calories beyond what is needed to maintain a healthy weight. The other group, would be of course, a low carb group with the same criteria eliminating excess calories as well.

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