At my job, we’re currently running a weight loss challenge. It’s pretty cool — all the participants have six months to diet, exercise, whatever to lose weight, with weigh-ins every month. At the end of the six months, everyone who lost weight gets $2.50 a pound for each pound they lost, and the one who lost the most gets $5.00 a pound. Pretty sweet.
So naturally, those of us who are participating are pretty much obsessed with calories (incoming and burned). And one of the big questions is: does it make a difference if the calories come from fat or carbs?
I mean, some of the folks swear by the low carb diets, and others are convinced that low fat is the only way to go. My personal feeling has always been that it’s not so much what kind of calories, but how many, that makes the difference. So the big question around the office is: who’s right?
And I’m feeling vindicated. I just came across this article that says “in terms of weight loss, low-fat diets and low-carb diets overall are equally effective (and, most of the time, neither will help you keep the weight off long-term)” That’s according to Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.
You can betcha I’m going to print out a bunch of copies of this one and leave them lying around the office… *grin*
So, anyway, they’ve apparently done a bunch of studies, and it turns out it doesn’t matter much whether your calories come from fat or carbs. The old saying is true: if you want to lose weight, the thing to do is take in fewer calories and/or burn off more of what you’ve got. In other words, “eat less and move more.”
The other interesting part (well, it was interesting to me, at least) is that they’ve studied a lot of people over a period of 30 years, and they haven’t found that different proportions of fat or carbs in the diet affect the incidence of heart attacks, strokes or some forms of cancer. So maybe that good old “balanced diet” thing my mom was always harping about is maybe not such an outdated idea after all.
Seems the only thing you really need to watch out for are those nasty trans fats. According to Dr. Willett, people who ate a more trans fats gain more than people who avoid them, even when they eat the same total number of calories. I guess it pays to read those nutritional labels — and it’s a good thing so many food companies are jumping off the trans fats bandwagon lately.
OK, so as I said, they’re doing this weight loss challenge thing at my office. And I’m in. So far I’m down about 4.5 pounds. Wish me luck!