Tweaking the Right Protein and Carbs for Weight Loss
While eating a moderate amount of calories is important to maintaining a healthy weight, diet shouldn’t only be about counting calories. This is something that bodybuilders have been knowing for years but it seems that science is validating the principle of eating lean cuts of meat and low glycemic carbs for keeping weight off. Diets such as the ZONE and other diets that include protein rich foods and low glycemic starches are really nothing new to the fitness world. According to a new study results published on-line in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, its all about the quality of the protein choices and not just the calories. The authors also focused on something known as glycemic load (GL), which is the number that estimates how much a certain type of food will raise a person’s blood glucose level. Next, the authors determined whether changes in GL impacted the relationship between major protein-rich foods and long-term weight gain.
For fish, nuts, and other foods associated with weight loss, decreasing GL enhanced their weight loss effect, while increasing GL decreased their weight loss effect. Notably, although other foods like eggs and cheese were not linked to weight change on average, when servings of these foods were increased in combination with increased GL, they were linked to weight gain. On the other hand, when servings of eggs and cheese were increased in combination with decreased GL, the participants actually lost weight. The fat content of dairy products did not seem to be important for weight gain. In fact, when people consumed more low-fat dairy products, they actually increased their consumption of carbs, which may promote weight gain. This suggests that people compensate, over years, for the lower calories in low-fat dairy by increasing their carb intake.
Typically, higher GL is associated with more weight gain, as well as chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Based on more than 16 years of follow-up among 120,000 men and women from three long-term studies of U.S. health professionals, the authors first found that diets with a high glycemic load (GL) from eating refined grains, starches, and sugars were associated with more weight gain. Previous research has linked glycemic load of the diet, a reflection of how much a food causes a rise in blood glucose, to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes but it had not been established how GL is related to weight-gain over many years.
When people increased their levels of red meat and also GL levels (by eating more empty carbs like white bread), they were more likely to gain weight. However, people who ate red meat in addition to low GL foods like vegetables, reduced some of the weight gain. In fact, the more of these foods people ate, the more weight they lost, which proves that calories aren’t as important as they type of calories you’re eating.
Be specific in choosing the types of proteins and carbohydrates you eat, because these little things might make a big difference in your weight loss or weight gain later on. Eating high-fat foods like eggs and cheese in combination with low-glycemic foods actually helped individuals lose weight, too. So it turns out that it’s not always about the calories, or about eating the low-fat foods; instead, it may be about eating the right combinations of food.
The major research finding of the study were:
• Increasing intakes of red meat and processed meat were most strongly associated with weight gain.
• Increasing intakes of yogurt, seafood, skinless chicken, and nuts were most strongly associated with weight loss — the more people ate, the less weight they gained.
• Increasing other dairy products, including full-fat cheese, whole milk, and low-fat milk, did not significantly relate to either weight gain or weight loss.
J. D. Smith, T. Hou, D. S. Ludwig, E. B. Rimm, W. Willett, F. B. Hu, D. Mozaffarian. Changes in intake of protein foods, carbohydrate amount and quality, and long-term weight change: results from 3 prospective cohorts. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2015; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100867