As many of us will begin this New Year with healthy eating resolutions, it might be a good time to rethink what we previously thought true about dieting and calorie counting. A 2018 study published in JAMA shows that we may have been approaching weight loss all wrong. As it turns out, when it comes to watching your weight, it may be the quality of calories not the quantity that should be monitored. For most people that means swopping out those “low calorie” (low quality) processed snacks for more home cooked, whole food-based meals.
In the yearlong study which included 600 participants, doctors advised their patients against counting calories and told them instead to focus their attention on consuming more vegetables and whole foods and to prepare meals at home as much as possible while cutting back on added sugars, refined grains and flours and trans fats. Participants were also encouraged to engage in physical activity as much as possible. Participants didn’t have to worry about logging their meals in a food journal, changing their workout habits or measuring their portion sizes, all they had to do was avoid eating processed foods. Throughout the study, participants were encouraged to set goals, build self-efficacy and were encouraged to build a supportive network to help maintain their behavior modifications for the entire 12 months of the study.. The results showed that the average participant lost 12-13 pounds while some participants gained up to 22 pounds. It is worth noting that some participants lost up to 60 pounds by improving the quality of calories they were consuming. These results overall indicate that a person can achieve their weight loss goals without counting calories.
What this all boils down to is that spending more time in the kitchen, increasing your vegetable and whole grain consumption can prove more helpful than simply logging your calories. It’s our mission to help you get cooking and keep a healthy weight so if you need help to get started, check out our articles on the kitchen tools we recommend for any kitchen and our quick guide to setting up your pantry. And don’t forget to check out our how-to cooking videos with Ann. From our kitchen to yours, we wish you a Happy, Healthy New Year!