Home wellness science Instead of Counting Calories, Do This for Weight Loss, According to a New Study

Instead of Counting Calories, Do This for Weight Loss, According to a New Study

by Marianne Navada
restricting calories weight loss

Current professional weight-loss advice centers on cutting calories. However, this approach ignores the biological influence of fat storage, according to a paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

The Problem with Calorie Restriction 

Restricting calories causes more harm in two ways: hunger and it slows down metabolism, according to Dr. Ludwing from the Harvard School of Public Health and head of the research team. While calorie-restriction may lead to weight loss in the short term, this strategy is difficult to maintain overtime. It leads to “progressively more severe calorie restriction” and causes metabolic problems. 

Calorie restriction for obesity treatment results in weight loss—initially—giving patients the impression they have conscious control over their body weight. But predictable biological responses oppose weight loss, including decreased metabolic rate and elevated hunger. Therefore, ongoing weight loss requires progressively more severe calorie restriction, even as hunger increases. Few people achieve clinically significant weight loss over the long term with this approach. Those who cannot might feel implicitly stigmatized as lacking in self-control.

The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model: a Physiological Perspective on the Obesity Pandemic | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model 

The researchers offer the carbohydrate-insulin model in addressing obesity. When you cut back on carbohydrates you control insulin levels, which leads to a decrease in fat cells. To understand the logic, we need to answer the following questions: what is insulin and how does it affect fat cells? 

Insulin is a hormone. Its main job is to move glucose in the blood to your cells, so we can use glucose for energy. The pancreas make insulin. When our body detects that our glucose levels are up, the pancreas produces more insulin. 

When we have too much insulin, the body programs fat cells to hoard calories, which leads to fewer calories in the blood stream. This causes hunger. And when we are hungry, our brains are telling us to eat. 

While calorie-restriction may lead to weight loss in the short term, this strategy is difficult to maintain overtime. It leads to “progressively more severe calorie restriction” and causes metabolic problems.

How does Lowering Carbohydrate-Intake Affect Glucose Levels? 

Our bodies breakdown carbohydrates and turns it into glucose (a type of sugar). So the more carbs we eat, the higher the glucose levels. The higher the glucose, the higher the insulin levels. 

In terms of how much carbs you should eat, this is when you can talk to a nutritionist. As for someone like me who doesn’t count calories, but focus on nutrition instead, it helps to use a tracker. I’m not obsessive about monitoring my carbohydrate intake, but I do like to make sure that eat it in moderation. If I have pizza for lunch, I’ll skip the bread and rice for dinner. 

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