Echoing President Bill Clinton’s strategist, James Carville, new research puts the spotlight where it belongs for health and nutrition… processed carbs and not just calories.
While understanding calories has a role in health, that approach also masks problems among foods. We assume that all calories are created equal. That may well be the case in the lab when we measure the caloric content of food but not when our bodies get that food. The complexity of chemical interactions go light years beyond anything a calorie can monitor. While we are nowhere near ready to understand those interactions and the trillions of inhabitants in our gut microbiomes, we can at least focus on reducing / eliminating processed carbs.
Eating processed carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, potato products, and sugar can drive up insulin levels in the body and lead to weight gain. Nutrition expert David Ludwig of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says that eating fewer of these unhealthy carbs—more so than cutting calories—can help maintain long-term weight loss.
In a January 4, 2019 interview on the radio show “Science Friday,” Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition, discussed a recent study he co-authored that found that, among nearly 200 overweight patients, those who cut carbs from their diets and replaced them with fat increased their metabolism and were able to burn more calories daily when compared with people who ate a high-carb, low-fat diet.
“The standard approach to weight control considers all calories alike,” Ludwig said. “Just eat less and move more—we’ve heard it a thousand times. Our research suggests that a focus on food quality rather than calories may [promote weight loss] more slowly, but it’ll keep you there over the long term.”
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