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Some Calories Better Than Others

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 02:08 PM

Not all calories are created equal.
That’s the chief conclusion of new research that has found foods that reduce the surge in blood sugar after a meal – such as those in even moderately low-carbohydrate diets – are better than low-fat or fat-free foods for losing weight and keeping the pounds off.
The study, by researchers with Boston Children's Hospital, also found low-glycemic index diets – those involving foods with moderately low sugar and carb levels – had similar metabolic benefits to extremely low-carb diets without negative effects of stress and inflammation.
The upshot: Reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates in the diet may help people maintain weight loss better than reducing fat.
"In addition to the benefits noted in this study, we believe that low-glycemic-index diets are easier to stick to on a day-to-day basis, compared to low-carb and low-fat diets, which many people find limiting," said Cara Ebbeling, who led the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Unlike low-fat and low-very-carbohydrate diets, a low-glycemic-index diet doesn't eliminate entire classes of food, likely making it easier to follow and more sustainable."
Low-glycemic index diets are comprised primarily of minimally processed grains, vegetables, healthy fats, legumes and fruits. About 40 percent of daily calories come from carbohydrates, 40 percent from fat and 20 percent from protein. Low glycemic index carbohydrates digest slowly, which keeps blood sugar and hormones stable after the meal.
By contrast, low-fat diets reduce fat intake and emphasize whole grain products, fruits and vegetables. About 60 percent of daily calories come from carbohydrates, 20 percent from fat and 20 percent from protein. People on low-carb diets derive 10 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, 60 percent from fat and 30 percent from protein.
For the new study, researchers compared the effects of the three diets in 21 people – ages 18-40 – who were trying to lose 10-15 percent of their body weight and keep it off. The study participants tried all three diets, each for four weeks at a time, and researchers monitored the relative benefits of each approach.
They found the very low-carb diet produced the greatest improvements in metabolism, but also raised participants’ levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. The diet also boosted C-reactive protein levels, which increase risk of cardiovascular disease. But the low-glycemic index diet had similar benefits without the negative side effects.
The low-fat diet caused the greatest decrease in energy expenditure, an unhealthy lipid pattern and insulin resistance.
"We've found that, contrary to nutritional dogma, all calories are not created equal," said David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Clinic at Boston Children's Hospital. "Total calories burned plummeted by 300 calories on the low-fat diet compared to the low-carbohydrate diet, which would equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity."

© HealthDay

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Moderately low-carb diets are better than those that stress low-fat foods for losing weight, keeping pounds off.
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 02:08 PM
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