Obesity is linked to higher risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Studies have shown that even modest weight loss can significantly lower the chances of developing the health problems associated with obesity. But what is the best way to losing weight.
The US’s dietary guidelines states that losing weight requires reducing the number of calories people get from foods and beverages along with increasing physical activity. This approach to weight management is based on the energy balance model, which says weight gain occurs because we consume more energy than we expend.
But a perspective article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition argued that this model doesn’t explain the biological causes of weight gain. Instead, the authors support the carbohydrate-insulin model, which describes obesity as a metabolic disorder driven by what we eat, rather than how much. Based on this model, the authors claim that overeating isn’t the main cause of obesity.
According to the carbohydrate-insulin model, the current obesity epidemic is largely due to modern dietary patterns characterized by excessive consumption of foods with a high glycemic load, particularly highly processed carbohydrates.
Eating highly processed carbohydrates promotes weight gain
As explained in the article, consumption of highly processed carbohydrates leads to more insulin secretion and suppression of glucagon secretion, which in turn signals fat cells to store more calories. When more calories are stored, the body is left with fewer calories to fuel muscles and other metabolically active tissues. If the body isn’t getting enough energy, you tend to feel hungry. Also, metabolism may slow down as the body tries to conserve fuel. This explains why we tend to remain hungry, even as we continue to gain excess fat.
Suggesting that weight management strategies based on the energy balance model is ineffective, the authors pointed that despite decades of public health guidelines encouraging people to eat less and exercise more, rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases are rising.
So, considering both how much we’re eating and how the foods we eat affect our hormones and metabolism is important to understand the obesity epidemic, the authors noted.
Rather than eating less, focus on what you eat
Eating less to lose weight often doesn’t work in the long run. Focusing on what you eat rather than how much you eat is a more effective, long-lasting weight management strategy.
Reducing consumption of the rapidly digestible carbohydrates could lessen the underlying drive to store body fat, and as a result, people may lose weight with less hunger and struggle, said lead author Dr. David Ludwig, Endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School.
“The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model: A Physiological Perspective on the Obesity Pandemic,” is authored by a team of 17 internationally recognized scientists, clinical researchers, and public health experts.
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