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Science Explains Why Low-Carb Diets Work

July 9, 2012
Plain English Version

All calories are not the same. 

Most people believe we gain weight when we take in more calories than we expend in energy. It does not matter if the calories are in pizza, hamburgers, soda or vegetables.

For a long time, scientists said another question to ask was: Does the body store and use calories in the same way. Are some calories better or worse while trying to lose weight?

If the body stores calories, you put on pounds. If the body uses calories as energy, you can eat and still lose weight.

An ounce of carbohydrate has less than half the calories of an ounce of fat. That is why a high carb diet was considered heart-healthy. But people who follow the Atkins low-carb diet know the fewer carbs you eat the more weight you lose.

Until now science could not explain how it worked.

A new experiment found that carbohydrate calories such as are in bread, potatoes, pasta and pizza are stored in the body. Calories from protein fats such as are found in meat and dairy furnish the energy we need to live. Therefore eating fats will lead to losing weight.  The catch is you have to cut back seriously on your carbs.

In the experiment obese people were put on strict weight losing diets. Since it is likely they will regain weight, the question was, which diet would best keep down their weight.

The Atkins low-carb diet worked best.

The finding is controversial. The number of people in the experiment was small. It showed that eating fewer carbohydrates and enjoying more fats is the most efficient way to control weight.

Check with a health care professional before starting any diet.

The New York Times

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