Nutrition and Diet

Food Choices More Effective than Nutritional Metrics?

natefinnmhc No Comments

Sure, there are dozens of headline-grabbing studies that have us tweaking our diets and lifestyle for optimal health, but the fundamentals of good nutrition never change. Or do they? A new study published in JAMA suggests some fundamentals are, shall we say, more fundamental than others. For years, we were told if you want to lose or manage your weight, above all else, you need to watch and limit your calorie intake and increase your calorie consumption.

Here’s the key takeaway in this NYTimes feature story:

It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

 

Consistent Results Across Subgroups

The study also suggests that these weight loss benefits applied to whether the individual was following a low-fat or low-carb diet, as well as different genetics and insulin responses. Indeed, it’s easy to think that this type of approach might work for other people, but you think the meticulous details involved with counting calories in (diet) and calories out (exercise). It’s not as though you can’t lose weight, especially in the short-term, with this method. But it seems like the best long-term results must also take into account the composition and food choices of one’s diet—and the physiological effects that may be caused by the psychological act of counting calories.

It’s also easy to think that using added sugar and refined grains as a carrot for the rest of your diet and exercise is a solid strategy. And cutting these types of foods out of your diet altogether is hard in today’s culture and time demands. Still, incremental progress can be substantial progress over time. By picking out and eliminating even one food that you regularly eat that’s high in added sugar or refined grains and replacing it with a wholesome grain or vegetable, you’re likely doing yourself more good than all the calorie counts and exercise charts in the world.

 

The Human Body is a Complex Organism

In many ways, it makes us think of physics and the ways in which the observer and the observation itself can change the outcome of an experiment. Worrying about and counting calories really do seem to make the consumption of these calories less satisfying. Stress changes the composition of hormones and enzymes swirling around in our bodily system. If you combine counting calories with tracking your weight on a scale—or even just pant size, and who doesn’t do this?—but as you track more and more nutritional metrics, there becomes the very real possibility that you’re so removed from the holistic process of choosing what foods you eat and how you perceive these foods satisfying your appetite.

 

 

Inspirational Health Quotes

I pray every day, several times. It soothes me. I don't ask for anything, except for health.