It’s something I’ve been telling my patients for years, but I realize I haven’t mentioned it much here.
And of course, this new large-scale study allows me to remind you of one of my most important recommendations: Low-carb, high-protein eating is the key to successful weight loss…and good overall health.
The study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In it, researchers found that making small, consistent changes to the types of protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods we eat helps reduce the risk of weight gain over the long haul.
For me, the most important emphasis should be on the word “consistent.”
I say this word a million times each day in my practice. You have to be consistent with your health in order to see the effects we all want to achieve.
Keep eating healthfully, a little bit each day, day after day…and the more consistent you get, the more of a habit (and, therefore, the easier) it becomes to eat better. And before you know it, you won’t even think twice about your new behavior.
Consistency is the key to your long-term success.
But that’s not all this study found…
Researchers analyzed 16 years of follow-up data of more than 120,000 men and women from three long-term U.S. health studies. They looked at people who ate a diet with a high glycemic load (GL)—meaning those who ate a lot of refined grains, starches, and sugars—and compared them to people who ate a low-GL diet.
Researchers found that those who ate the high-GL diets gained more weight than those with a lower glycemic load.
Why is this important? Past studies have linked glycemic index to the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, but the relationship of glycemic load to weight gain over many years had not been established until this study. (Although it still elicits a “duh” from me–how could anyone have denied this connection at this point? Starches and sugars kill!)
The researchers looked at the relationship between diet changes and weight gain during the four years of follow-up, to find out what impact various glycemic loads made. They found that increasing intake of seafood, skinless chicken, and nuts was most strongly associated with weight loss. (Seafood and nuts–hello, Hamptons diet?)
The researchers also found that red meat was linked to weight gain. But before you yell at me for telling you so many times that red meat is perfectly healthy, let me point out that this link was NOT a straight line: the researchers also noted that increases in the consumption of red meat were generally paired with an increased dietary glycemic load…that means eating more low-quality carbohydrates like white bread along with the meat.
So it was not actually the red meat that was the problem; rather, the problem was what people were eating along with the red meat. (Roast beef sandwich on white, anyone?) Decreasing the glycemic load–i.e., eating red meat with vegetables instead of a burger on a bun seriously–cuts down the risk of weight gain.
The study’s authors also found that eating more dairy, including full-fat cheese, did not significantly relate either to weight gain or weight loss.
And, echoing something I have been saying for years, they found that when people ate more low-fat dairy products, they actually increased their consumption of carbs, which promoted weight gain.
I’ve said it countless times…low-fat foods are actually worse than full-fat choices. If you need a reminder why, review my article, “The great fat-free fake out,” in the Feb. 2015 edition of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. Subscribers can access this issue—and the complete archive—by visiting www.drpescatore.com and logging in to the Subscriber area of the website. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up here today.)
I love how the science continues to mount proving that diets including fewer low-quality carbohydrates, such as bread (white OR “whole grain”), potatoes, and sweets, and higher in protein-rich foods is more effective for weight loss. Yet, try telling that to the American Heart Association, which still talks about the DASH diet as the way to go (a useless piece of drivel that I don’t recommend reading).
No matter how you slice it, it’s all about the bass (the fish…not the song!). And it’s NOT about the bread. Ever.
Maybe the “medical experts” will finally catch up and catch on? And start changing their message to the masses. Let’s hope…
In the meantime, your action plan is to start some small, but consistent changes today. Put that juicy burger or steak on a bed of mixed greens instead of on a bun or with a dinner roll…alongside steamed broccoli with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of Parmesan. And nix the side of potatoes for rich, delicious sliced avocado with (full-fat!) vinaigrette. Make little behavioral shifts like this every day, and the payoff will be big.
“Changes in intake of protein foods, carbohydrate amount and quality, and long-term weight change: results from 3 prospective cohorts.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published online ahead of print.