The first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) and the energy balance equation (EBE) are common equations when it comes to arguing weight loss strategy. The EBE is quite simple and states:
Change in Energy Stores = Energy Intake – Energy Expenditure
which translates to,
Weight Loss = Calories Consumed - Calories Burned
You might think this equation is indisputable due to the laws of physics. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. The message for individuals who want to lose weight has been to focus on decreasing calories (energy intake), increasing activity (energy expenditure), or a combination of the two. According to the EBE equation, this will infallibly result in weight loss. And since a gram of fat is nine calories, while a gram of protein or carbohydrates is only 4 calories, a common misconception is that most efficient way to lose weight is to eat a low fat diet.
This delusion leads to the excessive use of low-fat, high carbohydrate diets. Let's take a look at why these diets fail.
Basically, energy intake is not independent of energy expenditure, and the type of calories you eat does affect your energy output. The food we eat elicits hormonal responses that determine how energy is stored in the body (i.e., in the form of body fat). Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and high glycemic carbohydrates (pasta, bread, potatoes, etc) drive an enormous insulin response. Insulin is a "storage" hormone, causing the body to stop using fat as energy, and store it instead. Fat is not the main culprit at all. On the flip side, low glycemic carbohydrates (veggies and some fruits) produce higher levels of glucagon. Glucagon promotes the use of fat for energy. In summary, the storage or release of fat from our adipose tissue (fat cells) is hormonally driven and is directly related to what types of food we eat.
So, what is the most effective diet for fat loss? We have found the Paleo diet, with the bulk of carbohydrate consumption coming from vegetables and some fruits, promotes amazing fat loss. This means nixing the breads, pasta, potatoes and even whole grains from your diet. There is nothing in these foods that you cannot get tenfold from replacing them with a variety of vegetables.
Now the evidence is clear that you cannot simply state that “a calorie is a calorie” when looking at the energy intake variable in the EBE. All calories are not equal, and the quality of those calories is much more important. Restricting calorie intake but continuing to eat much of it in the form of high-glycemic foods will make your body fight to maintain its fat stores and will lower your metabolism. So don't replace the almonds with rice cakes. It just won't work.
There is simply no well-researched evidence that contradicts this information. First off, there is no denying that Americans are fatter than ever. Both obesity and diabetes have increased dramatically in the past 30 years. However, the average fat intake of Americans has dropped significantly. This clearly demonstrates that fat is not the main culprit in the widespread obesity problem. Below are charts for both male and female macronutrient intake from 1971 to 2000. As you can see, carbohydrate consumption has increased, while fat intake has decreased.
The maps below shows the United States obesity prevalence in 1985 and 2006. Clearly, we are far worse off now than we were 20-30 years ago. And this represent only obesity (BMI > 30), and doesn't include "overweight" individuals, which consist of much higher numbers.
The data shown in these maps were collected through the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
Correlating this data, we see that the decrease in fat consumption has irrefutably contributed to the increase in obesity. This is due to the fact that Americans have increased their carbohydrate consumption to replace the fat in their diets. Clearly, this does not work.
So, would you like to continue the trend or stop it in its tracks? Proper diet combined with a great exercise routine will get you results. Try it. What have you got to lose...besides a lot of weight?