An interesting year-long study from JAMA came out today that has rocked the fitness world.
The study took place over the course of 12 months. It monitored overweight adults and their diets during this period.
Some of these adults were put on a high-carb diet. Others were on a high-fat diet.
Thus begs the question that so many in the fitness world have been trying to figure out for decades: which diet is best for fat loss?
Well, if you have read through my own article about reducing stomach fat, you’ll see that this study came up with the same conclusions that I teach:
It doesn’t matter if you have a high-fat or high-carb diet. What matters most is that you’re eating healthy calories and that you remain in a caloric deficit.
What bothered me most about this news isn’t the actual study; it’s the New York Times headline related to this study.
As a professional copywriter, I know a misleading headline when I see one. In this age of sensationalism, the media loves using headlines to draw in readers.
Here’s what the NYTimes headline says:
“Counting Calories Is Not the Key to Weight Loss, New Study Finds”
It’s actually a very well-written headline and I got to give the editor’s credit for coming up with this one. It’s so good that it got me to say HUH?
If you look at the actual study on the JAMA page, it literally says “there was no significant difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat diet vs a healthy low-carbohydrate diet.”
What could this possibly mean?
It means that, despite what the sensational headline of the NYTimes claims, that calorie counting is in fact KEY to weight loss.
So Should You Be Calorie Counting?
After reading this study, the answer is pretty obvious:
Yes, you should be tracking the foods you eat in MyFitnessPal as well as you can. Consistency is key in the weight loss game.
The NYTimes article hits against this advice from the very get go. They claim that as long as you reduce sugars, refined grains and processed foods, you’ll lose weight.
I don’t think it takes a genius to know this is true. I’ve been saying for a long time that not all calories are created equal.
Foods that are high in sugar can slow your metabolism. They can make it more difficult for your body to burn fat and digest food.
Breads and other starches can also cause inflammation in certain individuals. If you want to lose weight most efficiently, you should definitely cut out these types of foods.
This is why eating vegetables and fruits is good for you; not only are they low in calories, but they’re natural, whole foods. It’s obvious that these foods will help you lose weight.
It would be impossible to eat 2000 calories worth of vegetables. A cup of broccoli is around 30 calories. You would have to eat 66 cups of broccoli to hit the 2000 calorie mark.
And even then, because green vegtables have a ton of fiber, you still would be in an energy deficit since fiber goes in and out.
Therefore, when it comes to calorie counting, don’t bother with counting green vegetables. I always advise against counting these.
On the other hand, you should count fruits because they are full of healthy carbs. Do count the apples, bananas, oranges and anything else fruity that you eat.
And obviously, continue to count the proteins and fats that you consume as well. It isn’t difficult to do so.
Don’t Let These Studies Make You Lazy
The problem with a study like this is that you’ll read it and think, “Well then! I’ll just eat whole foods and stop calorie counting!”
Please don’t do this. Here’s why:
Calorie counting should become a habit for you. This is part of the Lean Warrior lifestyle. Knowing how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis puts you above the rest of society.
Most people would rather be lazy and not dedicate themselves to a healthy lifestyle. It’s really easy to get lazy when you read a mainstream article like this.
But, counting calories isn’t just for weight loss.
If you want to keep all that belly fat off once you hit your goals, you best believe that calorie counting will become even more important.
I can see why the average American would love this NYTimes headline. It speaks to the common, mediocre person: stop counting and just eat healthy! Yipee! Easy!
We don’t do average here. We’re all about living a badass life. Mediocrity is the opposite of exceptionalism. I’d rather you live an exceptional life than an average one. Do you agree? Good.
Calorie counting becomes even more important if you decide to go on a lean bulk and build muscle.
Since you only want to eat around 200 extra calories per day, it becomes crucial that you know exactly that you’re putting into your body.
You don’t want to get in the habit of eyeballing your food when you need to be precise. That is the work on the lazy and I want you to be better than that.
It takes an extra 30 seconds to weight your food. Do it. Don’t be lazy. Be better than average.
Should You Do The Keto Diet?
Even more interesting is that the study claims, “…their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics or their insulin-response to carbohydrates…”
This basically destroys the notion that high-carb diets are more unhealthy than high-fat ones.
You can lose just as much weight on a high-carb diet as you can on a keto diet. That’s one of the key takeaways from this study.
But, the most important factor to any weight loss goal will be your protein intake.
Whether you want to gain weight or burn fat, you should always make protein a top priority. A lot of people struggle with protein.
It’s a lot easier to reach for a box of chips or a bagel than snack on some tuna or cook some meat.
This is where protein powder and shakes become immensely important. By themselves, they won’t help you gain or lose weight.
But, they will help you reach your overall protein goal for the day. If your day calls for 150 grams of protein, you’re going to want to have at least 2 shakes per day. It will make your life much easier.
Once you’ve strategized how to get your protein in every single day, you can then start to think about a Keto diet.
Or a high-carb diet.
Remember, this study proves that it doesn’t really matter which route you take.
As long as you get your protein in, you can fill in the extra calories with whatever foods you want. It’s really up to you and you will lose weight as long as you’re in a caloric deficit.
But wait! The NYTimes article says to not worry about counting calories!
Yes, this is true if you have zero self-control and love being average. You can eat whole foods and greens and you will lose weight.
Avoid sugars, stay away from enriched flours, no breads or bagels, no tortillas or rice. Cutting these foods out of your diet will cause you to lose weight. Guaranteed.
You Should Still Track Your Macros
However, if you want to have a flexible diet where you can enjoy these foods from time to time, then it’s okay to count your calories.
I just had a frozen pizza that came in around 1,000 calories total. I calculated the carbs, fats and proteins and basically hit my goals in all but protein.
Since I only need pure protein for the rest of the day, I’ll make myself a 35 gram shake tonight. That will have me at my daily goal.
For habit alone, I recommend you to track your macros on a daily basis. It’s really a science. You can track to the point where you know you’ll lose 1 or 2 pounds (or more) per week.
Since I teach people to lean down strategically, I would want you to lose no more than 2 pounds per week. Any more than this and you’ll feel the effects big time.
The only way you can strategize your weight loss is through tracking.
If you’re in the gym 4-5 days per week with some interval training thrown in the mix, you can lose 2 pounds a week on a very small deficit (200 calories or less).
The more you exercise, the more foods you can eat. That’s the beauty with the Lean Warrior system. You work according to your lifestyle.
This is still a really good study in that it should encourage people to eat healthier foods. Sugar is a real addiction. It is a true killer.
Getting yourself off of refined sugars is one of the best things you can do for your health. Stick to natural sugars from fruits.
What do you think about this study? Let me know in the comments below.