More to health than calories and weight
It is indisputable that for weight loss, the difference between the number of calories consumed and the number of calories exerted through exercise is the most important factor. But don’t fool yourself. While weight plays a role in health and longevity, weight loss alone doesn’t equate to health.
Yes, some high-protein diets seem to promote weight loss at least in the short term. But epidemiologists know that in areas where people live the longest – close to 100 years on average – they eat a primarily plant-based diet, with very low or no animal-based protein and low or moderate fat in the form of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
I often hear friends or clients say things like “it’s those carbs that are making me fat” or “I need to go on a low-carb diet.” But these complaints drive dietitians like me, well, nuts. Carbohydrates include foods like Coca-Cola and candy canes, but also apples and spinach. Cutting down on simple carbs like soft drinks, refined-flour bakery items, pasta and sweets will definitely have a positive impact on health. But eliminating carbohydrates like vegetables and fruit will have the opposite effect.
A plant-based diet high in plant-based protein and carbohydrates mostly from vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes is the healthiest diet researchers know of for longevity and prevention of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, hypertension and many other conditions.
The modern Western diet suffers from an increase in quantity of calories consumed with a concurrent decrease in the quality of calories consumed. And researchers now know that calories from different foods have different effects on fullness, insulin response, the process of turning carbs to body fat, and metabolic energy expenditure.
Where your health is concerned, count more on the quality of the calories you consume than the calorie count.
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Terezie Tolar-Peterson, Associate Professor of Food Science, Nutrition & Health Promotion, Mississippi State University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.