Are Energy Nutrient Ratios Important in Weight Loss

Over the past couple of decades several popular diet programs and philosophies were founded on eliminating energy sources or creating energy nutrient ratios. The late 1970s and 1980s seemed to be about removing fat from the diet, while in the past couple of decades we have seen the emergence of The Zone and re-emergence of Dr Atkins' Diet Revolution and the explosion of The South Beach Diet. The Zone is based on a lowered calorie intake and partitioning calories between carbohydrate, protein and fat in a 40:30:30 ratio. Meanwhile, Atkins and South Beach are based on carbohydrate restriction for a period of time followed by reintroduction of some carbohydrate back into the diet.

But what do we really know about energy nutrient ratios and their influence on weight loss, weight gain, and body composition? It does seem that when we eat carbohydrates and protein they are used for energy before fat; there is a hierarchy of food calorie utilization. For instance, if we eat 70 percent carbohydrate, then roughly 70 percent of our energy expenditure will be carbohydrate. This is mostly due to the ability of insulin to promote the use of glucose for energy. If we eat 50 percent protein, then roughly that amount of our daily energy expenditure will be from protein. Meanwhile, if you switch to a high fat diet it will take a week or more before you begin to match the higher fat intake with higher fat used for energy, but you get there.

Research studies have helped health professional understand how different types of diets can help people lose weight and improve body composition. It does seem that in the short run—up to 6 months of dieting—lower carbohydrate intakes allow for a little more weight loss than higher carbohydrate intakes. However extending out longer, both diets do about the same when it comes to weight lost and people aren't able to stick with one diet better than the other. So, in general the most important nutritional factor in determining weight loss is calorie level. However, as we will discuss soon, determining the energy nutrient ratio can be important in controlling hunger and increasing leanness.

Good Carb Diet

Good Carb Diet

WHAT IT IS A three-phase plan that has been likened to the low-carbohydrate Atkins program because during the first two weeks, South Beach eliminates most carbs, including bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit and most dairy products. In PHASE 2, healthy carbs, including most fruits, whole grains and dairy products are gradually reintroduced, but processed carbs such as bagels, cookies, cornflakes, regular pasta and rice cakes remain on the list of foods to avoid or eat rarely.

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