Recommendations about the best practices in weight loss, nutrition and fitness evolve faster than the blink of an eye. Every week we hear someone – a personal trainer, dietitian, or your best friend – sharing the “latest and greatest” weight loss advice. So, where can you turn to find out what’s real science versus just a passing trend?
In this section, we bring you some of this month’s most interesting scientific research on weight loss, nutrition, fitness and health – all in a digestible, easy-to-read fashion. Happy reading 💗
After you read the summaries, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
With Carb Intake There’s Too Much, Too Little and JUST Right
Turns-out Goldilocks was on to something with her pickiness about the oatmeal servings!
If you’ve picked up a health magazine lately, or followed any health-focused page on social media, you’ve probably noticed that carbs get a lot of attention in the weight loss community. Super low carb diets like keto and Atkins are all the rage right now, but go back about 20 years and you’ll notice low-fat/high carb diets in the spotlight. So, which is better: low or high carb??
A recent study says neither. After analyzing over 432,000 people’s diets and health, the researchers found that diets at both ends of the spectrum – either very low carb or very high carb – are linked to increased mortality. Researchers did note, however, that not all low carb diets are created equal. Low carb diets that replace carbs with animal fats & proteins are more detrimental to health than those that replace carbs with plant-based proteins or fats.
The conclusion? Moderate carbohydrate intake is associated the the best health outcomes and longest lifespan. So, authors recommend that you:
🍞 Aim for moderate carbohydrate intake, with about 50-55% of daily calories coming from carbs.
⭐ Focus on complex carbs that are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals to get the most nutritional value from your food.
Encouraging Dietary Diversity: Helpful or Harmful?
For decades, nutrition professionals and public health agencies have encouraged Americans to “eat a variety of foods”. This advice is supposed to help people craft complete diet, rich in diverse macro and micronutrients. Unfortunately, new research suggests that this well-intentioned guidance only furthers the country’s growing obesity problem.
The study published in this month’s American Heart Association journal, Circulation, reveals that people eat more food – good AND bad – when instructed to diversify their diet. This leads to overall higher food consumption, which contributes to obesity.
One of the main problems is that there’s no real consensus about what “dietary diversity” entails. Instead of this vague advice, the authors recommend giving more concrete dietary advice like:
🍉 Eat more fruits & vegetables
🌾 Include fiber in the form of beans and whole grains
🥛 Favor low-fat dairy products
🥩 Limit red meat, sweets and sugar drinks
The Early Bird Catches the Worm… And Stays Skinnier?
New research indicates that night owls with prediabetes tend to weigh more than early birds with the same condition.
The study looked at 2,133 Asian patients whose blood glucose levels were above normal, but not yet high enough to justify a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The participants completed a short questionnaire to determine preference for “morningness” vs. “eveningness”, and reported typical sleep patterns. Researchers then correlated this information with subjects’ body mass index (BMI).
They found that:
🌙 Night owls tend to have a higher BMIs than their early bird counterparts
😴 More variation in sleep schedule between weekdays and weekends is correlated with a higher BMI in participants under 60
These results build on previous research that sleep patterns affect health risk. Other research has also shown that night owl tendencies are correlated with an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
So, maybe Benjamin Franklin had it right all those years ago when he said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Something to think about!