It's not difficult to comprehend why individuals gain weight, is it? We will gain weight if we consume more calories than we expend. Do you want to lose weight? Reduce your caloric intake while increasing your physical activity. It's what we've been told for years, but researchers just presented a new perspective that flips that notion on its head.
Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children's Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, co-wrote a paper published this month in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that questions conventional wisdom about what's causing America's obesity crisis.
According to the article, which was co-authored by a team of 17 internationally respected scientists, clinical researchers, and public health specialists, what we eat has a greater impact on our weight than how much we eat.
Obesity affects over 40% of Americans.
Obesity affects more than 40% of Americans (defined as having a Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 30 or above). Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and possibly certain cancers. That is why determining the fundamental cause of weight increase and assisting people in determining how to more effectively manage their weight is critical.
Do we need to reconsider conventional weight-loss advice?
Most of us have been hearing weight reduction advice for years that follows the "energy balance model," which is the calories-in-calories-out thinking that suggests overeating, combined with a lack of proper physical exercise, causes people to gain weight.
Ludwig, on the other hand, provides a different viewpoint, the "carbohydrate-insulin model," which explains obesity as a metabolic condition caused by eating the wrong sorts of foods, rather than by overeating itself. "Conceptualizing obesity as an energy balance imbalance restates a physics theory without recognising the biological causes behind weight increase," he explains. That’s science speak for ‘we might need to reconsider how we gain weight’.
While the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 state that "adults [need] to reduce the number of calories they get from foods and beverages and increase the amount expended through physical activity," Ludwig believes we'd be better served by taking a closer look at our daily diet and reducing the amount of processed carbohydrates we consume.
Is it possible to eat as much as you want and still lose weight?
Processed foods are popular go-to meals, snacks and deserts.
According to this new way of thinking, foods with a high glycemic load, particularly processed carbs like pastries, pizza, boxed pasta (unless whole grain), breakfast cereal, white bread, and white rice, elicit hormonal responses that fundamentally modify our metabolism. And it is this variation in metabolic rate that is the true cause of weight gain and obesity.
So, what does this mean for someone wanting to lose weight? "Reducing consumption of easily digestible carbs, which inundated the food supply during the low-fat diet era, lowers the underlying drive to store body fat," Ludwig explains. "As a result, people may be able to reduce weight with less hunger and effort."
Grocery shopping for the ‘correct’ foods.
In other words, if you consume the correct foods, you won't have to worry about overeating. Want to get back into your pre-pandemic thin jeans without feeling deprived or grumpy? Simply avoid packaged "low calorie" items as well as anything produced with white flour or refined sugar. Choose whole grains, fruits, and veggies instead. You'll feel better about helping yourself to seconds, thirds, and even fourths this way.
What are the ‘correct’ foods that I can eat without worrying about gaining weight?
How much of your last grocery list was made up of ‘whole’ foods?
‘Whole’ foods, single ingredient foods that can be combined together, and a ‘clean’ approach to eating are all ways to nourish your body with healthy foods. A quick tip - most ‘whole’ foods don’t come in a box, can, or container. Most veggies (unless frozen) come naturally packaged in their own skin. Almost all processed foods that are loaded with added sugars and easily digestible carbs come in man-made packaging. If you are picking up a food item in packaging at the grocery store (other than whatever bag you put your items into for transport - or something to hold fresh cuts of meat), you are likely holding a heavily processed food product that you should re-consider adding to your basket if your goal is weight loss.
For a complete list of whole foods, including grocery lists, quick prep recipes, and killer snacks and deserts, consider picking up our best-selling Meal Plan. Our Meal Plan has been optimized to help you lose weight, shed body fat, and keep you on track with your diet.
Combining a ‘whole’ foods approach with our Intermittent Fasting Plan for Women, will increase your results even further by combining the incredible benefits of fasting with a whole foods approach.
The Bottom Line.
If you enjoy eating, if enjoying the flavour of foods is something that you are passionate about, shifting your diet approach to eating the ‘correct’ foods for weight loss might just mean that you can eat as much of these foods as you need to feel satisfied. If you are worried that ‘whole’ foods are boring or tasteless, I challenge you to take a flip through the cook book section of our Meal Plan. Our recipes are the bomb - and they are also kid friendly and family tested. Ensuring that your family is eating the most healthy foods is setting a foundation for optimal development and wellness - even as it helps you lose weight.
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