If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: a calorie is a calorie and it doesn’t matter what kind of calorie it is. I’ve heard this from dietitians and nutritionists again and again – they say that if you want to lose weight, all you have to do is to take in less calories. However, you know what they say about repeating a lie: eventually people start to believe it. The idea that all calories are the same regardless of their source is just this kind of lie.
If you are starting to look for a fitness program to help you get in better shape for summer many of the trainers here in Washington, DC will tell you just to eat less. BEWARE if you hear this. Educate yourself and/or help educate your Washington DC personal trainer. Exercise more and eat less is not the solution to lasting fat loss.
Living in the DC area, means you are busy, have to deal with traffic, and even have to deal with where is the best place to eat to stay looking good. You do not want the added weight of feeling hungry all the time. Luckily there are an overwhelmingly number of places that you can eat and stay on track by making a few simple tweaks. Ok, so what was that study…..
The view that all calories are created equal simply doesn’t match up with the facts. To illustrate, I’d like to tell you about a couple of studies on diet, one conducted by Ancel Keys at the end of World War II and the other in the late 60s by John Yudkin.
Ancel Keys was studying diet in order to find a way to help alleviate malnutrition in the people of war-torn Europe at the close of the Second World War. In his study, 36 young men were given a 3,200 calorie diet with ample protein as well as fats and even desserts. This was for the first 3 months of the study.
The second three months of the study were quite different, however. The volunteers were now put on a 1,600 calorie diet which was similar to what the people of Eastern Europe were subsisting on after the war: peas, bread, cabbage and so little meat that many of the subjects were not aware that they were not on a vegetarian diet! What Keys found is that the volunteers were miserable on this diet. They suffered from declining mental and physical well-being and found themselves thinking of food around the clock (which is probably familiar to most of you who have gone on a low fat diet before).
In the second study conducted by John Yudkin at the University of London, the idea was to explore the effects of low carb diets for weight loss. At the time a lot of experts were skeptical, but determined to prove his critics wrong, Yudkin put his volunteers on a very different kind of diet than seen in Keys’ study.
The subjects were instructed to drink 10 – 20 ounces of milk (300 – 600 milliliters) per day and were allowed to eat all the dairy products, meats, fish and green vegetables they wanted. Subjects on this diet were told to measure carbohydrate intake in units of 5 grams – and asked to limit their carbohydrate intake to 50 grams or less daily.
Surprisingly, the subjects in this study ended up consuming a shockingly low 1560 calories per day on average; and they didn’t report the hunger pangs, lethargy or overall misery as did the volunteers in the second three months of Key’s study. In fact, they reported that they felt energetic and healthy, even on their low calorie diets.
Now, these subjects willingly ate their diet, while the subjects in Key’s study actually took in slightly more in terms of overall calories, but needed to be kept locked in their barracks to keep them on the diet they were so hungry!
Key’s Semi-Starvation Diet:
100 g protein
30 g fat
225 g carbs
Yudkin’s Low Carb Diet
83 g protein
105 G fat
67 g carbs
As you can see, Yudkin’s diet was a low carb diet, while Key’s diet was a low fat diet. It doesn’t take a genius to draw the conclusion here that it’s easier to lose weight on a low carb diet than on a low fat diet – a conclusion which is backed up by numerous other studies on the topic. In many of these studies, subjects lost 75% – 100% more fat than their counterparts on low fat diets!
I’m rapidly approaching my graduation from one of the best dietetic programs in the nation (at the University of Maryland) and every semester, I hear the same thing: all you need to do to lose weight is lower you caloric intake. Strangely enough though, this assertion is never backed up by data.
Thankfully, I’ve also been educating myself in the real world, attending several seminars and reading dozens of books annually as well as communicating with nutrition experts who know how calories work in real life. I have helped several hundred people drop fat and keep it off without being hungry and those people still get to enjoy their favorite treats.
I shared the above studies with you to help you make better decisions about your diet next time you want to drop a few pounds and are looking for an expert in DC you know what to look for. I have a personal fitness business that offers complete solutions to get you to your goals. We are located in Georgetown right between Barnes and Nobles and Baked and Wired!
So next time someone tells you that low fat is the way to go you will know why it isn’t.
Josef Brandenburg is the author of The Body You Want. He is an award winning personal trainer in Washington DC. Visit his website www.thebodyyouwant.com to learn more.