Finally we have a decent study that proves not all calories are created equal. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined how three popular diets affect metabolism and weight loss. Specifically it put the standard low-fat, high carb diet so beloved by cardiac surgeons, against an Atkins’- like high fat, high protein diet beloved by bacon aficionados.
Turns out that of all the overweight and obese participants (who were all put on the same initial calorically restricted diet to lose weight), those who continued diet maintenance with a low fat diet had the greatest reduction in metabolic rate. In comparison, the ultra low carb Atkins’ diet people (eating the same number of calories as the other groups) burned 300 more calories per day, just through diet alone. In addition, the low fat group showed an increase in insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.
So eating a diet based in bacon, eggs and cheese may just help you lose weight. Of course, it may also lead to higher circulating levels of chemicals associated with biological stress and inflammation, as shown in the same study. Hardly ideal, especially for the long term good of the human heart.
But what of that third group? They were put on a diet somewhere in between. Based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and a decent amount of fats, this group burned about 150 more calories a day than their low fat counter parts and showed none of the inflammatory markers exhibited by the Atkins group.
Obviously it would be interesting to see what kinds of fats cause the greatest metabolic gains and the least amount of inflammation, whether there are certain times of year our bodies prefer high carbohydrate over high protein, etc. I mean, no research study can be that thorough. What this study does indicate, however, is that these extreme limiting diets are worthless in the long run. Conclude what you will, but I for one will continue to feel good about the occasional indulgence in meat-laden sandwiches. On bread.
- It’s not just how many calories, but what kind, study finds (latimes.com)
- When Dieting, Not All Calories Are Created Equal (livescience.com)