Push Away from the Table: Why Only Calories Count

Why Only Calories Count

High carb, high fat, low-fat, high protein … when it comes to diets, do macronutrient ratios count? Not really. The key to losing weight is calorie reduction.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that heart-healthy diets that reduce calorie intake–regardless of differing proportions of fat, protein, or carbohydrate–resulted in more weight-loss success.

The study found similar weight loss after two and a half years among participants assigned to four diets that differed in their proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrates. The participants lost an average of 13 pounds at six months and maintained a 9-pound loss at two years.

The main similarity between the four diets was calories: participants averaged a 750-calorie reduction per day. Average-sized males who ate 2,800 calories a day, for example, were prescribed just over 2,000 calories, while women who consumed 2000 calories a day were prescribed 1,250 calories.

“These results show that, as long as people follow a heart-healthy, reduced-calorie diet, there is more than one nutritional approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight,” Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said.

The study, she adds, provides people who need to lose weight flexibility to choose an approach they are most likely to sustain and is most suited to their personal preferences and health needs.

Wet Wolf, who specializes in physique transformation and sports performance training, agrees.

“A female over 25 percent body fat asking for exact gram amounts of macronutrients per day is akin to a girl who has never lifted weights before asking to be put on steroids,” Wolf explains in Food Addictions: The Last Stand.

“Surely nothing as simple as losing fat could be as easy as making smart eating choices and exercising?”

In the end, losing weight boils down to consuming fewer calories than your body needs or increasing activity to burn more energy.

Why does this matter to you? If you consistently make smart eating choices and stick to a sensible diet, excess pounds will melt off. And don’t forget to exercise! Lift weights and perform energy system workouts for a well-rounded fitness regimen. More importantly, be realistic about how quickly the weight will come off.