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All calories are NOT created equal

When it comes to energy carbs are not as good as fats….

A study soon to be published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society and led by Dr. David Ludwig confirms that not all diets yield the same amount of available energy after meals. This study appears to support the argument that the typical approach to weight loss, which is focused on calorie restriction, is not the most effective one.

This seems to be particularly true in the weight-maintenance phase, post-diet. Physiological adaptations to weight loss, such as a decline in energy expenditure and increase in hunger may be among the factors driving weight regain.

Instead, the results og the study suggest that an approach that aims to reduce the total carbohydrate intake might be more effective to maintaining weight loss.

The objective of this research, conducted in collaboration with the ground-breaking Framingham State Food Study was to determine differences in total circulating energy post-meal related to dietary carbohydrate.

The participants of the study had gone through a 10-14% weight loss and were put into three weight-loss-maintenance test diets varying in carbohydrate contents:

👉 high-carb (60% of total energy)
👉 moderate-carb (40% of total energy)
👉 low-carb (20% of total energy)

Proteins were held constant at 20% of total energy. The reduction of calories from carbs were compensated by increases in calories from healthy fats.

Energy availability (EA) was established based on energy content of blood glucose, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and free fatty acids, with a focus on the window 3-5 hours post eating.

The key results:

  • Insulin-to-glucagon ratio was seven-fold higher in participants on the high- vs. low carbohydrate diet (2.5 and 0.36, respectively).
  • Late postprandial EA was 0.58 kcal/L lower on the high- vs. low-carbohydrate diet (p<0.0001), primarily related to suppression of free fatty acids.
  • Early postprandial EA (30 to 180 min) declined fastest in the high-carbohydrate group, and Meal Insulin-30 modified this diet effect.

Conclusions:

A diet low in carbohydrates may improve the availability of energy in our metabolism 3 hours after eating a meal. This type of diet seems to attenuate hunger and increase energy expenditure.

We see this as an interesting addition to the argument that we really need to monitor the macro balance of in our diets. Best to reduce low-value carbs and increase intake of healthy fats.

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