Not all Calories are Created Equal

The New York Times recently reported on a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that busts some common myths about weight loss. According to this new study, weight loss can still occur without restricting calories by simply eating ‘real’ food and cutting out added sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

This has been my nutrition message for years! It’s not how much you eat, but what you eat. Quality, not quantity. For those who think a 100-calorie bagel is better than a 200-calorie serving of salmon and vegetables, think again. Even though the bagel contains fewer calories, many of those calories will likely be stored as fat after the easily digestible simple carbohydrates they contain spike the hormone insulin.

For most of us, the simple formula of calories in versus calories out doesn’t work for weight loss. There are other factors at play, such as hormones, age, gender, activity level, and even sleep quality that affect how much we eat and whether calories are used for energy or stored as fat. And, of course, where those calories come from matters a great deal.

To me, the interesting part of the JAMA study was that participants lost weight by cutting out added sugars and processed foods whether they followed a low-fat or a low-carb diet, and regardless of their genetic make-up or their carbohydrate tolerance. In other words, whether they were in the low-fat group or the low-carb group, they replaced sugary, processed food with real, whole food and lost weight. I believe this is how popular diets such as Paleo or Whole30 work for weight loss—they all cut out the sugar and refined carbohydrates and add back in real food.

NYTimes 2
n a new study, people who ate lots of vegetables and whole foods rather than processed ones lost weight without worrying about calories or portion size. Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times.

So instead of spending time and energy counting calories or following a restrictive diet, simply make home-cooked meals with whole foods that include complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat, and do your best to cut out or limit added sugars and processed foods. It’s a simple prescription to optimize health!

Please contact me if you need help achieving your diet and wellness goals. I’m here to help you make a plan you can stick with for life!

Laura Hsu, NC | 408.596.0379 |

Photo Credits Andrew Sondern/The New York Times

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