A groundbreaking study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on June 27, 2012 by Dr. David Ludwig out of the Boston Children’s’ Hospital settling the debate about how we lose and gain weight.
Up until this moment there have been two sides to the weight loss discussion.
Side A – Quantity, how much we eat determines our weight. In essence the calories we take in minus the calories we burn will determine our fate. For example: If we require a 1400 calories per day and we eat 1900 calories then we are at a surplus of 500 calories that will get stored as fat and cause us to gain weight. If we require 1400 calories and consume 1400 calories then we break even for that day and will not gain weight.
Side B – Quality, the quality of our food matters. For example: If we require 1400 calories per day and we eat 1400 calories it will depend on the food groups that make up those calories which will determine weight gain. In essence if we eat 1400 calories of potato chips those will be metabolized differently than 1400 calories of chicken. The quality side argues that even if we eat within our caloric limits certain foods are more likely to be stored as fat than others.
In this study Dr. Ludwig took a group of obese patients and put them on a starvation diet to lose 10% of their body weight. In this case a 300lb person would lose 30lbs and be 270lbs at the beginning of the study.
The starvation part is not the interesting part.
This next part is what is most interesting:
Patients were then divided into three groups and given 3 different food plans.
Dr. Ludwig wanted to see what would happen to these patients over 30 days when they were given the same caloric load but different qualities of food.
1) Group one was put on a high carbohydrate low fat diet. (60% carbohydrate, 20% protein, 20% fat)
2) Group two was put on a low glycemic diet similar to a diabetes diet. (40% carbohydrate, 40% fat, 20% protein)
3) Group three was put on a high protein, high fat, and low carbohydrate diet. (60% fat, 30% protein, 10% carbohydrate)
At the end of 30 days Group three, the very low-carbohydrate diet, had the most beneficial effects on energy expenditure and several metabolic syndrome components. Group one had the most unfavorable outcome of all the groups.
Note from Dr. P: This is something that Naturopathic Doctors have known for some time. Calories in, minus calories out, are an extremely generalized view of the complex metabolism of the human body and typically only help younger individuals lose weight. As we age hormonal fluctuations contribute to a sluggish metabolism and weight loss becomes increasingly difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this, “Dr. Purcell, I don’t know what happened I’m gaining weight and my diet hasn’t changed, I’m still eating what I always ate.” Women’s bodies’ change every 5 years. What worked when you were 30 is not going to work when you are 40. That means we need to change our food choices. Women especially are plagued by weight gain in peri-menopause and the quality of the calories makes the biggest difference for weight loss and a healthy weight.