Throughout all of the time that I have been involved in health care delivery, the most important and pressing issue people continue to have is weight management. The incidence of overweight and obesity continues to increase on a global scale despite all that is known to prevent or effectively manage it.
Trust me when I say that getting control of your body weight/composition is a very difficult task to accomplish and even more difficult to maintain. Look at any large-scale observational study and you will see that after 12 months of follow-up, most folks re-gain most, if not all of their body weight. After 2 years of follow-up, more than 90% of people who enroll in these types of studies have regained the weight they originally lost plus!
What did the successful folks in these studies do to remain successful over the long term to manage their own weight issues? Therein lies the secret…and where we can learn the most regarding sustained weight management.
Let’s reveal what these folks did which sets them apart from most of the others and made them ultimately successful.
A new study published in the British Medical Journal has also found a clue in the successful attainment of weight loss. This study (among others) has indicated that the type of calories consumed may influence how likely an individual will or will not be able to keep that weight off for the long term.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects different levels of carbohydrates in the diet could control the secretion of insulin thus preventing weight gain. “The role of carbohydrates was based on the “carbohydrate-insulin model” of obesity, which states that high insulin levels that result from eating a high glycemic load diet (i.e., highly processed carbohydrates like refined breads, crackers, cookies, and sugars) causes energy from the food to be stored more easily as fat, and may increase hunger and food cravings, lower energy expenditure, and promote weight gain”.
In my professional opinion, those who are the most successful at managing their weight over the long term understand this concept very well and are very much aware of how their body reacts with certain calories in certain foods.
In this study, the participants lost approximately 12% of their body weight before being assigned to three study groups: High Carb./Low Fat, Moderate Carb./Moderate Fat, Low Carb./High Fat. The calories were adjusted to maintain weight in each group over the 20 week period.
The results of this study indicated that the low-carb. group had the highest amount of energy expenditure (209-278 calories/day) compared with the other groups. In addition, this effect was the highest in folks who had the highest rates of insulin secretion at the beginning of the study (308-378 calories/day). The hormone Ghrelin which is secreted to encourage you to eat by stimulating your appetite was suppressed to a very great extent in those folks consuming the low carb./higher fat diet. The hormone Leptin, secreted by fat cells regulates appetite and fat storage/metabolism, the secretion of this hormone was also decreased in the low carb./higher fat group. Leptin resistance is a major issue in those who have gained (gaining) weight and or are obese.
According to the study author, “This study raises the possibility that a focus on restricting carbohydrates, rather than calories, may work better for long-term weight control.”
This is the mantra of those who have experienced long-term weight management and continue to do so…it’s not the calories you consume, it’s the type of calories, where they come from and how they affect the metabolic machinery that is your body on the cellular level!
Regular, intense physical activity and a change in thinking also complement this effective and scientifically-sound strategy at long term weight management.
Until Next Time
The Vitality Project
Dr. Kevin J. McLaughlin