In slimming diets, the quality of the food is more important than the quantity of calories, according to the latest study

Whenever we put on a diet to lose a few kilos the first thing we usually do is start counting calories like crazy : “Look, these chips have 400 calories per bag, but if I buy light I save at least 100”. And so we calculate each of the calories we eat throughout the day to reach the final count: that number that, if it is below our caloric needs , will lead us to lose weight.

The latest study in this regard, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has concluded that in a weight loss diet the most important thing is not that daily calorie count, but the quality of the foods that make up our diet. Can we, then, forget about counting calories forever?

The aforementioned JAMA study was initially aimed at checking how adults who are overweight or obese respond to a low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet when it comes to losing weight. But these were not diets low in carbohydrates or fats to use: healthy diets were used, that is, composed of real food and not ultraprocessed products .

A diet that does not count calories

Instead of, as has been done on other occasions, establish a number of daily calories that should be fulfilled by the participants in the study, the only thing that was given was a list of food habits and food (meaning “food”). quality) that they could include in their day-to-day, regardless of the total number of calories a day.

STOP counting calories

The nutritional guidelines that were followed to carry out the study were the following:

  • Reduction of the intake of added sugars
  • Reduction of the intake of refined cereals
  • Increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables daily
  • Increase in intakes of whole foods
  • Reduced consumption of processed products
  • Cooking at home with raw materials whenever possible
  • Some foods that were part of the low-fat diet: brown rice, barley, oats, lentils, skimmed milk, quinoa , fresh fruit, legumes
  • Some foods that were part of the low carbohydrate diet: olive oil , salmon, avocados , cured cheese, vegetables, nut creams , nuts and seeds , grass meats

The result of the study was that, when it comes to losing weight and controlling our weight in the long term, the quality of the food we are consuming is more important than the total amount of calories . The result was practically the same in the case of the healthy low-fat diet and the low-carbohydrate healthy diet.

So, counting calories does not help?

Obviously, the caloric balance matters, but perhaps not as much as good eating habits in the long term . We must remember that the aforementioned study was carried out on overweight or obese adults whose extra kilos, surely, came from a poor diet based mainly on ultra-processed products .

What happens when we start to change processed products for real food and raw materials? That our caloric intake decreases due to the simple fact that real food tends to have a much lower caloric density than processed products, in addition to provoking a greater satiety sensation and, of course, providing a greater number of nutrients.

The caloric restriction is a consequence of the change of eating habits towards better ones

The most important thing to keep in mind is that caloric restriction occurs as a result of a change in eating habits towards better ones : the reduction of calories is not a goal of this type of diet based on real food, but is the consequence of eating food instead of products.

Likewise, the fact of not having to count calories in each of our meals throughout the day can eliminate that feeling of stress or anxiety related to many of the restrictive diets .

The change of eating habits towards healthier ones is what makes a long-term diet of weight loss successful since it produces adherence and there is a food reeducation.

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