When it comes to weight loss there is never a lack of opinions and advice. Many people claim that low-fat diets is the key to losing weight, others say that counting total calories is the only effective measure to take. In a recent opinion article in the New York Times, two scientists attempt to uncover why the type of food you eat, not how much you eat, may be more important in terms of regulating hunger. The claim is that when extra energy from food (in the forms of glucose and fatty acids) is stored in the fat tissue instead of circulating in the blood our brain will tell us to eat more. Therefore, the fatter you get, the more energy the fat tissue takes up and the hungrier we become, leading to a vicious cycle of weight gain. The culprit in all of this? Insulin – the hormone that is released from the pancreas in response to an increase in blood glucose concentrations. Insulin tells fat cells to take in glucose and fatty acids from the blood, so they can either be used for energy or stored for later. The scientists, Dr. Ludwig and Dr. Friedman, state that foods that cause a higher insulin spike will cause more energy to be stored, thereby causing more hunger in the longterm. Foods that are high in processed carbohydrates and simple sugars cause a larger spike in insulin because glucose gets to our bloodstream quicker when foods can be easily digested and absorbed. Foods that contain fiber, protein and fats take longer to digest and absorb, so the entry of glucose into the blood (and subsequent release of insulin) after eating them is slower.
So what do you think, is it total calories or total carbohydrates that should be the focus of weight loss advice? As always, it is important to think critically when it comes to using the advice of others for your own health goals. So go ahead, do your research and decide what a healthy lifestyle looks like for you. To read the full opinion article head to the New York Times.