For years we have all heard, “A calorie is a calorie”, meaning that the only thing that matters with weight loss is how many calories you consume and how many calories you burn.

Another popular saying is “Calories in, calories out! It means the same thing. If we reduce the number of calories we eat and increase the number of calories we burn, we will lose weight.

Today, this concept appears to be obsolete. New studies indicate that the number of calories consumed and burned may have much less to do with weight loss than previously thought. The “types” of foods eaten can be more important than calories in weight loss or gain.

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2012, found that those on a low-fat, high-glycemic diet were more likely to regain weight once it was lost. This diet plan, which is often suggested by physicians, includes reducing fats and increasing complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Those following this type of diet also had “unfavorable effects on insulin sensitivity, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides”.

The diet having the best results with weight loss was a low-glycemic eating plan, modeled after the Atkins Diet. This plan had its down sides too. It produced higher levels of inflammation.

While this study indicated the low-glycemic diet was best for weight loss and cardiovascular disease, the increase in inflammation could be a negative.

That’s why I recommend to my patients, a modified low-glycemic eating plan. My patients tell me it is easier to follow than the Atkins Diet and they still lose weight. It is also easier to think of it as a life-style change, rather than a diet.

While an eating plan is a “must” when wanting to lose weight, if the medical problems that contribute to weight gain are not corrected, it can be impossible to lose. So many women become frustrated with diet plans when the weight doesn’t come off or goes right back on when the diet stops.

Low thyroid, hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies and even food sensitivities play a role in weight loss or gain. Having a thorough thyroid evaluation is the first step in determining if the metabolism is actually functioning. A low progesterone/estrogen ratio can also cause weight gain.

Food sensitivities can cause food cravings that often cause us to “cave” when we are tempted to eat something we shouldn’t. When I hear people say you can “eat just a small amount of dessert”, or, “you shouldn’t deprive yourself of anything when dieting, it makes me think the person saying that never tried to lose weight. If you crave desserts, you can’t eat just a little bit. To me that is like telling an alcoholic that they can have “just a little alcohol”. It just doesn’t work. Staying away from eating sugar and artificial sweeteners may be difficult, but the longer you avoid them; the easier it is to continue to avoid them. Try it for a month and see for yourself.

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