Trying to lose weight? Then stop counting calories and pile on the protein. That's the conclusion of researchers who conducted a new study showing that high protein diets and Atkins-style high fat low carb diets work best for weight loss, reported the Medical Daily on Thursday.
"We can use this information to help manage and prevent obesity, through ensuring that the diets we eat have a sufficient level of protein to satisfy our appetite,” said Professor David Raubenheimer, a nutritional ecologist from the University of Sydney. "We also need to get the balance of fats."
In addition to emphasizing the weight loss benefits of low carb diets, the ecologist highlighted the need to avoid unprocessed food. A key guideline of the Paleo diet, eating "real food" promotes both health and weight loss.
"A simple rule for healthy eating is to avoid processed foods – the closer to real foods the better," added Raubenheimer. "No human population has until recently encountered "ultra-processed foods" – made from industrially extracted sugars, starches and salt. Our bodies and appetites are not adapted to biscuits, cakes, pizzas and sugary drinks and we eat too much of them at our peril."
As to his recommendation to avoid the concept of counting calories for weight loss, Raubenheimer pointed out that doing so ignores the importance of consuming high-quality nutrients as opposed to simply aiming for a certain quantity of calories. He noted that by balancing the percentage of protein, fats and carbohydrates, it is easier to satisfy hunger and consequently lose weight, reported Medical Xpress on Thursday.
"Foods are complex mixtures of nutrients and these do not act independently but interact with one another. The appetite systems for different nutrients compete in their influence on feeding," he clarified.
How long does it take to notice the difference if you shift from a high carbohydrate, low fat diet to a low carb, high fat plan? It happens within weeks, Professor Tim Noakes told me in an exclusive interview after using himself as a guinea pig.
"Within eight weeks I had lost 11kg and improved my running times to those I had last run 20 years earlier," he recalled. Noakes clarified the difference between different types of low carb diets.
"When you take carbohydrate out of your diet you have to replace the calories with either fat or protein. Thus one has high protein variants (Dukan diet)," while another one, the high fat version that he advocates, promotes nutritional ketosis," he explained.
"The more fat you eat, and the less protein and carbohydrate, the more ketogenic the diet becomes. I focus on limiting carbs for everyone with insulin resistance. If you have diabetes, then it makes sense to focus on eating more fat and less protein since protein acts as a partial carbohydrate," he noted.
And the ultimate message from the new study and Noakes: Increase protein and fat, cut carbohydrates for health and weight loss. "Calorie counting and doing huge amounts of exercise to control weight does not work and is in any case completely unnecessary," he said.