Friday, February 27, 2009

Study Backs Calorie Counting

A study reported this week in the New England Journal of Medicine says bottom line, it’s calories that count. Yay! Been saying that for ages. Every generation has its fad diets, some a bit more logical-sounding than others: think how 'scientific' the Atkins or Ornish Diets sound over say the Grapefruit Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet. But all of them either tout or damn one nutrient over another. Eat lots of protein! Don’t eat any protein! Go high carb! Go low or no fat! No, go no carbs! According to scientists who conducted the study, the kind of diet doesn’t matter, all that DOES really matter is cutting calories.

More than 800 people were followed for 2 years. In the case study, along with cutting their calories, participants, who were mostly women, were encouraged to exercise 90-minutes a week, keep a food diary, and meet with diet counselors on a regular basis. Well, 2 outta 4 ain’t bad.

On average, people lost 13 pounds in the first 6 months, but had trouble with the pounds trying to creep back up after a year. People who met regularly with diet counselors had a better chance of keeping it off and those who attended meetings lost more weight than those who didn’t - which is probably why Weight Watchers participants do so well on average. The only real disappointment researchers reported was in test subjects actually staying with a particular method of weight-loss for that long. People do like variety. We get bored. We get frustrated.

A point researchers made for calorie counting, which I’ve always said, is that it allows people greater food choices which makes it less boring. If you’re not always cutting out something, depriving yourself of a certain food, you’ll have a better chance of sticking to it. We all need variety in our diets. Cutting out anything, unless it’s medically necessary, is a bad idea in my opinion, because it will eventually backfire.

Some of the test subjects admitting that before participating in the research, they were oblivious to the amount of calories they were taking in each day. After they started measuring and counting, which gives the diet structure, the pounds dropped off.

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