Throw away all those fad diet books (and their accompanying "motivational" CDs). Tune out your brother-in-law's obsessive yammering about the miracle of Atkins or South Beach or, whatever, cabbage soup. A new study has confirmed what many of us probably knew all along: It's calories that make us gain weight and accumulate body fat. And as far as our bodies are concerned, it doesn't matter whether those calories come from protein or carbs or fat or anything else, the study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded. A calorie is a calorie is an extra inch on your waistline and unsightly bulge around the thighs.
The good news is that this information rids us of the false hope those fad diets present.
Just eating more of one thing (say, protein) and less of another (say, carbs) won't really let us catch a fast train to slenderness. And so we can forgive ourselves for not being able to stay on those diets since, after all, they don't really work anyway. Or at least they don't work any better, in terms of helping us lose weight, than simply eating less and exercising more.
Of course, that's also the bad news. The only way to take weight off is to eat fewer calories and exercise more. Period. Full stop. Sigh. Still, at least that gives us some flexibility. If you snack on a cookie in the afternoon, you know you can compensate for the extra calories by cutting back on a few bites of pasta at dinner or pushing to do a few extra reps at the gym. It's not like you have to stick to any specific, prescribed plan. (Of course, eating a nutritious, balanced diet is important for reasons other than weight loss.)
Personally, I'm pleased to have my hunch confirmed -- that weight loss plans based on adjusting the nutritional components of a person's diet are just a bunch of hooey (no matter what our brothers-in-law say). No, there's no easy way to lose weight. So we'll all just have to do it the hard way -- and spend the money we save on diet books on skinny jeans when we reach our goals.
Are you surprised to learn that calorie intake pretty much solely determines weight gain and loss?
Image via Lauren Manning/Flickr