Anyone who has battled their waistline has asked the same question: Which diet works best? Low-carb? Low-fat? High-protein? A new government-sponsored study out today finally tries to offer a definitive answer.
The study, published in today’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, is the biggest to date to compare different strategies head-to-head and to follow dieters long-term to see not only which approach helps shed pounds but which helps keep them off.
It turns out — surprise, surprise — that they’re all about the same. It’s not what you eat, but how many calories you take in, that makes the difference. So, the bad news is: There’s no magic in any approach. But the good news is: If you stick with any calorie-reduction diet, it can help you lose a moderate amount of weight and keep it off.
If you’re interested in watching some videos about the new study from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute click here.
The implication is that all diets are the same.
Maybe those four produce the same result, but they also all include flour — e.g., bagel and spaghetti.
(I must say that Stephan at Whole Health Source has some interesting posts about grains: “How to Eat Grains” and “A Few Thoughts on Minerals, Milling, Grains and Tubers.” He points out that it is the gluten, phytic acid and the anti-nutrients that cause us trouble, but that there are ways of preparing grains that destroy most or all of those substances. Just as, if Scotch and soda get us drunk and whiskey and soda get us drunk, it would be a hasty generalization to conclude that it is the soda that gets us drunk, so also we should look for the specific chemicals in grains that cause us trouble and eliminate them from our dietary intake.
Maybe one day we can eat bread, and have it be healthy and nutritional?
As for me, right now, I’m not touching the stuff. No way, no how. It’s a scourge of mankind.)
And no telling what else is the same. I have not read over and fully thought through the study’s methodology, questions, assumptions, method of analysis, and conclusions yet.
What’s more, in each of those aspects of a study there are ways to go wrong, just as in some studies on which is the “happiest country” they look for socialized medicine. There’s a way to engage in circular reasoning: assume in your hypotheses that people are happy only when there’s socialized medicine, thereby assuming in your hypotheses that people are not happy under capitalism, then conclude that capitalist countries are not the happiest ones. Assume people under capitalism are not too happy, then say in your conclusion that people under capitalism are not too happy. There’s totally invalid reasoning for you.
Or in some studies comparing liberals and conservatives, they class Hitler and Stalin as conservatives!! Hitler was a socialist and Stalin was a communist!! Listen to and read their speeches!! Studies that misclass things like that are invalid at root. (Someone can support socialism or communism or capitalism or theocracy or democracy or dictatorship — each individual has the right to this own mind and thoughts — but he or she needs to be factual and honest in his or her arguments. Update (11:30 AM): corrected a preposition mistake, changing “their” to the proper singular; made the list of political systems broader.)
“Calories in must equal calories out to maintain” is false. I don’t watch my calories and I eat a lot. I sure don’t need to loose any weight. I don’t eat the things that make your body chemistry make you fat: flour and sugar and such. Or I eat as little of those things as I can, anyway: some foods (e.g., precooked chicken) come with that stuff in them; they have some sugar or cornstarch or salt in them. Ugh. I buy some of that because I don’t have time to cook all the time. Sometimes I need some quick food, ready to eat.
And, no, there is no “magic in any approach.” Who cares? I don’t want “magic,” I want reality. What matters is that there is science supporting EF and Paleo. Lots of science — sports medicine, evolutionary science, anthropology, biology, zoology, animal studies, medicine, biochemistry — that the NIH does not even begin to match.
Exercise is important in health, too. No “magic” about it. Nor will “magic” allow us to escape the reality that our bodies — and brains — need physical activity.