What do you think about the claim that being heavier doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less healthy than someone who’s thin?
Thanks to reader Corey for his question and for sending the New York Times article that highlights recent research.
The article references a study published in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine.
Stop the presses: A new study published online in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that eating two eggs for breakfast (and not just the whites!) is healthier than eating a bagel.
As avid Mark’s Daily Apple readers, this one is easy to chalk up as a “well…duh” type of study, but the researchers note that the importance of the study is that it lends further support to the importance of high-quality protein in the diet. In fact, a special issue published in May in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that not getting enough protein may increase your risk for obesity, muscle deterioration and chronic disease.
It can seem like a cruel contradiction: lose weight, lose bone mass. Lose a lot of weight and lose even more. (Rest assured there’s more to the story, but we continue….) A collaborative study involving researchers from the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri highlights the downside of weight loss by calorie restriction both during and in the months following weight loss.
Do the Math
In my recent Context of Calories post, I explained how the different macronutrients we eat at each meal (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) have different effects in the body. I suggested that, despite their raw calorie values, it’s far more important to get a lasting intuitive sense of how much of each macronutrient you need and when you need it (or not).
But how do you do that? How do you figure out the proper number of calories – and breakdown of fats, protein and carbs – to accomplish your fitness and health goals? To lose weight? Lose fat? Gain muscle? Maintain status quo? Run marathons?
In fact, most popular daily diets look at overall calories as the main factor in weight loss and weight gain. The age-old conservation of energy Conventional Wisdom says that “a calorie is a calorie.” From there most diet gurus generally prescribe some formulaic one-size-fits-all breakdown of fats, protein and carbs. A classically trained Registered Dietician will tell you that protein should be around 10-15% of calories, carbs should be 60% (and mostly from whole grains) and fat under 30%. This macronutrient breakdown stays the same regardless of how much weight you need to lose or what other goals you might have. Barry Sears has his 40/30/30 “Zone” diet. The USDA bases everything on a choice of between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day. But, as I said earlier, it’s not that simple. Calories do have context.
200 Calories is 200 Calories. Right?
“What’s that in the road ahead?”
“What’s that in the road!? A head!?”
Context is important.
Many people think weight loss is simply about cutting calories. But context counts here, too. Calories do have context and that’s what I want to explore today. Is a calorie from fat the same as a calorie from protein or carbohydrate? Depends on the context. Does day-to-day calorie monitoring make any difference if your week-to-week weight and energy expenditure are dialed in? Maybe not.
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