Anyone who has spent any time learning about weight loss knows that you need to burn more calories than you consume. Something I've been screaming for years, the quality of your diet may affect your ability to lose weight.
A new study found that people who cut back on sugar, refined grains, and other highly-processed foods while upping your veggie and whole food intake lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.
Related - How to Lose Weight Fast
These people lost more weight without counting calories and portioning out their food. They lost weight due to the quality of food they ate.
I've implemented using more whole foods in my diet, and I notice a huge difference.
This strategy worked for people who followed a diet that was mostly low in fat or carbohydrates. This success wasn't genetic, the finding casts doubt on whether people really do need different diets based on their DNA.
So What Does This Mean to You?
This research shows that diet quality, not quantity, is what helps people lose weight and maintain that weight loss in the long run. Who would have thought? Eating healthier foods and cutting out the bullcrap would help. I think I've mentioned that before.
Instead of obsessing over calories and macros, simply cut out boxed foods. Anything made with refined starches, has added sugars, or is a convenience food is terrible for you.
Reducing this obesity epidemic in the United States can be started by going down this road. It's time for us to start focusing on diet quality, not counting calories.
So What Exactly Went on in This Test?
Dr. Christopher D. Gardner is the director of nutrition studies at Stanford Prevention Research Center. A large and very expensive trial, costing $8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, carried out this study on 600 people.
This study was designed to compare how overweight and obese people fare on low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets. Previous studies show that some are predisposed to do better on one diet over another, depending on genetics.
This is why there is an influx of companies who want to tailor a meal plan based on your genotypes.
There were two groups made - one called "healthy" low-carb, and the other called "healthy" low-fat. Both of these groups attended classes with dieticians so they could learn how to prepare and eat nutrient-dense minimally-processed whole foods.
Since soda, fruit juice, muffins, and white bread are all low in fat, the low-fat group had to opt for things like brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Quinoa, fresh fruit, and legumes were also eaten.
The low-carb group ate nutritious foods like olive oil, salmon, and grass-fed pasture-raised animals products.
What About Exercise?
While participants were encouraged to get off of their butts, many did not increase their exercise levels.
Why Is This Study Different From Others?
With other clinical trials being very strict in caloric intake and limits on food, participants were never given a set number to follow. The people who successfully lost the most weight said they have "changed their relationship with food."
That's right, they made the healthy choice to change their lifestyle.
Participants no longer ate in their cars, in front of the TV, and were cooking more and having meals with their families. Overall, their quality of life got much better.
So What Can We Learn from This Experiment?
Look, calorie counting has been part of nutrition and weight loss advice for years. We all know that maintaining our weight is about the balance of calories we eat versus how much we burn off.
This new study shows that increasing the nutritional quality of your food will help you lose substantial amounts of weight.
Research also showed that the subjects' genotypes did not appear to influence their response to their diets. They were tested to see if the people who secreted higher levels of insulin did better on a low-carb diet. To Dr. Gardner's surprise, "it was somewhat disappointing."
Wrapping It Up
So, going against many fitness professionals out there, I invite you to take a look at the quality of your diet versus how many calories you eat. The bottom line is that diet quality is important for both weight control and overall long-term well-being.
While both groups did, in fact, eat fewer calories than they burned, they were unaware of the change. They focused on addressing nutritional needs and these foods also satisfied their hunger.
Focusing on creating a healthier foundational diet full of vegetables, whole foods, and cutting back on sugar and less refined grains.
If it's boxed or convenient to cook, it's probably bad for you. Shop the perimeter of the grocery, learn how to cook, and change your life forever.