How many of you believe that to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you burn? Probably all of us, but a new study led by the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center that was recently published in JAMA has literally thrown that theory out of the window!
The research lasted for one year and included 609 adult participants. Half of the group was assigned a healthy low-fat diet whilst the other half were assigned a healthy low-carb diet. Each group was pretty much left to their own devices, however they were given the clear instruction that they had to opt for nutrient-rich foods in their most natural state. The participants were taught how to avoid processed foods high in sugars, refined oils, excess sodium, artificial additives and preservatives. They were also encouraged to work out but each were told to maintain their current level of activity and not increase it. The most important factor to the whole study was that there was absolutely no instructions given to restrict calories or portion sizes. In fact, completely the opposite, the subjects were told to eat as much as they needed to avoid feeling hungry.
So drumroll please! After 12 months some people had lost as much as 60 pounds while others had actually gained weight. However, when the researchers averaged out the total weight loss amongst all the 609 participants the results showed an approximate 13 pound weight loss per person between the two groups. Both groups also saw reductions in body fat, blood sugar and blood pressure.
As well as the changes in what the participants ate, they also reported changes in how they ate. Most people started to cook more of their own meals, they also turned the tv off whilst eating and many more started to sit down and eat at a dining table with their family than eating on the run.
Therefore, to achieve optimal health and weight management we need to adopt an attitude of abundance of higher quality whole food ingredients instead of reducing the calories. The feeling of satisfaction is always going to win over deprivation, hunger needs to be satisfied.
If you just focus on wholesome foods the weight loss will take care of itself as whole foods in their natural state are pretty much always going to be lower in calories than processed foods. Just think about it. If your dinner consists of a piece of grilled salmon, fresh asparagus or spinach, grilled tomatoes or carrots followed by natural yoghurt and fresh berries then you are sure to be satisfied and without even thinking, the calories will ultimately be on the lower side whilst also being high in disease fighting nutrients.
It is definitely time to stop thinking that one type of food is good and another is bad, just focus on the quality and not the quantity of the food on your plate. Cook real food daily and the rest will take care of itself.