As a dietitian, I am constantly asked “ If I just eat less calories than I burn, I’ll lose weight, right?” so I figured I’d use this forum to get the answer out there.
Weight loss is, generally speaking, a matter of energy balance.
- If you eat more energy that you burn you will gain weight
- If you eat less energy than you burn you will lose weight
- If you eat the same amount of energy as you burn you will maintain your weight
So if it’s just a matter of eating less and moving more, why is there still so many of us who struggle with our weight?
Well it turns out, if you look deeper into calories and the way the body uses energy provided from different macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein) that not all calories are equal.
One of the biggest issues with weight loss is that once people lose the weight, they struggle to keep it off. A study by Ebbeling et al called “Effects of Dietary Composition on Energy Expenditure During Weight-Loss Maintenance” actually showed that those who followed a low GI diet (www.glycemicindex.com) had more success at keeping the weight off than those who followed a low carb or a low fat diet.
“What’s a GI and how do I get a copy of this new diet?” I hear you all ask…
Well the GI – Glycemic Index is a measure of the rate at which carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed into the blood stream. The quicker this process occurs, the higher the GI.
A low GI diet involves trying to eat low or lower GI foods as a part of each meal. It doesn’t have to be a huge portion. Rather just replace the carbs you would be eating with a lower GI option. The surprising thing is that the list of low GI foods includes a lot of the following:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Wholegrain breads and cereals
- Low fat dairy foods
That’s right, these are foods that are generally recognised as healthy alternatives, whether following a low GI diet or not. So the punch line is – to lose weight, maintain the weight loss and to keep your metabolism firing follow a healthy, low GI diet, similar to the 12WBT. It’s easy to follow, doesn’t require you to spend a bucket load on supplements or shakes and it is maintainable.