Are All Calories Created Equal?

What Diet Is Best for Maintaining Long-Term Weight Loss?

During the 2012 JAMA study, the participants ate about 1,600 calories a day on each of the diets. The number of calories burned was then measured. These tests confirmed that the participants burned around 300 calories more a day when following the very-low-carb diet compared to the low-fat diet, and around 150 calories more a day on the low-glycemic-index diet compared to the low-fat diet.
Although the very-low-carb diet seemed to be the best from a metabolic perspective, there were some downsides. This research study also looked at how these diets affected the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and C-reactive protein, which indicates inflammation in the body. These tests showed that cortisol and C-reactive proteins were higher during the very-low-carb portion of the study. Inflammation and higher cortisol levels may lead to an increased risk for certain medical issues, such as strokes, insulin resistance, and heart disease, over an extended period of time.
Although this study was only for three months, it indicated that diets that focused on reducing glycemic load rather than dietary fat may be more beneficial for maintaining weight loss and reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. The low-glycemic plan also appears to be more effective than the other plans at burning calories and keeping energy expenditure at a higher rate after weight loss.
However, because this particular study was for only a short amount of time and the participants followed a highly controlled eating plan, it is not exactly known whether one diet is really better than another for maintaining weight loss in the real world.

Coming to a Conclusion

More research is needed to define the exact nature of the relationship between diet composition and weight maintenance. A majority of the scientific reviews currently conclude that a diet of any composition will lead to weight loss if it sufficiently reduces calories.
While the calorie debate may go unresolved until this research is more conclusive, the bottom line is that the key to weight management is a balance between calories consumed and calories expended. In short, to lose weight, you must eat less and exercise more.
Since losing weight means reducing calories, try to improve the quality of those calories. This means that it can help to pick foods that will help you feel fuller but contain fewer calories. Other helpful tips for making those calories count is to try to pick foods that are natural and have the right kinds of fat, and avoid foods made with refined starches and added sugars.
And while you may be trying to figure out how the source of your calories may be burned by the body, you can benefit greatly by getting that heart rate going. Exercise will help you burn those excess calories you consumed during the day far more than relying on your body to do it naturally.
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