By Alexandra Sifferlin (@acsifferlin}
Experts make an argument for why we should stop counting calories
You’ve heard it before: To lose weight, simply eat less and exercise more. In theory, that makes sense. Actually, it’s not just in theory—science has proven that burning more calories than you consume will result in weight loss. But the trouble is that this only has short-term results. For long-term weight loss, it simply doesn’t work, say renowned obesity experts in a recent JAMA commentary.
Ultimately their argument is this: stop counting calories. “We intuitively know that eat less exercise more doesn’t work. It’s such simple advice that if it worked, my colleagues and I would be out of job,” says Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. “The uncomfortable fact is that an exceedingly small number of people can lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off following that advice.”
Blaming excess weight on people simply not changing their eating habits goes back thousands of years. Sloth and gluttony are two of the seven deadly sins, after all. But Ludwig and Dr. Mark L. Friedman of the Nutrition Science Initiative in San Diego, argue that this mindset disregards decades of research on the biological factors that control body weight. And they are not just talking about the role genetics play. They say we should stop viewing weight as something separate from other biological functions—like hormones and hunger and the effects of what foods we eat, not just how much of them.