You have probably heard that if you want to lose weight it does not matter where the calories are coming from as long as you reduce your calorie intake. All you have to do, if you want to keep your weight at a healthy level, is to adjust your calorie intake.
This is not true. The source of calories, in other words the type of food you eat, makes a difference when it comes to how much weight you will lose and if you will lose fat or muscles. It is also easier to maintain your weight at a better level if you eat certain foods.
The research reviewed here are just 3 examples of this, and the findings in these studies may surprise you.
One of the studies included 51, 188 women aged 20 to 45 years with no cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer (Bes-Rastollo M, et al. 2009). The objective was to determine the relation between nut consumption and long term weight change. The researchers evaluated the dietary intake of nuts and weight changes for 8 years in these participants.
Nuts are high in fat and for that reason calorie dense. For that reason you may think that if you eat nuts on a regular basis you would gain more weight than if you don’t. The results however showed that the women who reported eating nuts twice or more times per week had slightly less weight gain than did women who rarely ate nuts.
The results were similar in normal-weight, overweight and obese participants.
Another example is a study where the participants were assigned to a weight reduction diet for 12 weeks (Li Z, et al. 2011). One group included an afternoon snack of 53 g (240 calories) of salted pistachios and the other group included 56 g of salted pretzels (220 calories) in their diet which otherwise was the same.
The results may surprise you again because there was a significant difference in body mass index (BMI) between the two groups. The pistachio group reduced their BMI from 30.1 to 28.8 while the pretzel group reduced their BMI from 30.9 to 30.3. This means that the group who ate nuts as a snack reduced their BMI twice as much compared to the ones who ate the pretzels. After 6 and 12 weeks the triglycerides were also significantly lower in the pistachio group.
In the third example the study participants who were healthy men and women added either candy or roasted peanuts to their regular caloric intake for 2 weeks (Claesson AL, et al. 2009).
You may again be surprised, but the results documented that the group who added the candy increased more in weight than the group who added the peanuts. The waist circumference increased significantly only in the candy group. They gained fat around their waist. At the end of the study the LDL cholesterol and Apo B/Apo A-1 ratio, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease, were higher in the candy group. The basal metabolic rate increased only in the peanut group, which means that they started to burn more calories at rest.
These are just some few examples of research showing that it definitely makes a difference where the calories are coming from.
There are other studies documenting similar results as described here when the researchers compared the results from eating the same amount of calories, but from different types of food.
Imagine the results you can get when you combine these different types of food in a meal and set up a weekly food schedule incorporating this information.
That is exactly what I did when I developed the “Learn to Eat” program.
You can download the program immediately by going to the page Learn to Eat and get started on a healthier way of eating right away.
Bes-Rastrollo M, Wedick NM, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Li TY, Sampson L, Hu FB. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1913-9. Epub 2009 Apr 29.
Claesson AL, Holm G, Ernersson A, Lindström T, Nystrom FH. Two weeks of overfeeding with candy, but not peanuts, increases insulin levels and body weight. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2009;69(5):598-605.
Li Z, Song R, Nguyen C, Zerlin A, Karp H, Naowamondhol K, Thames G, Gao K, Li L, Tseng CH, Henning SM, Heber D. Pistachio nuts reduce triglycerides and body weight by comparison to refined carbohydrate snack in obese subjects on a 12-week weight loss program. J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Jun;29(3):198-203.