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Article taken from ScienceDaily (June 26, 2012)

A new study published June 26 in the Journal of American Medical Association challenges the notion that "a calorie is a calorie." The study, led by Cara Ebbeling, PhD, associate director and David Ludwig, MD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children's Hospital, finds diets that reduce the surge in blood sugar after a meal--either low-glycemic index or very-low carbohydrate-may be preferable to a low-fat diet for those trying to achieve lasting weight loss. Furthermore, the study finds that the low-glycemic index diet had similar metabolic benefits to the very low-carb diet without negative effects of stress and inflammation as seen by participants consuming the very low-carb diet.

Weight re-gain is often attributed to a decline in motivation or adherence to diet and exercise, but biology also plays an important role. After weight loss, the rate at which people burn calories (known as energy expenditure) decreases, reflecting slower metabolism. Lower energy expenditure adds to the difficulty of weight maintenance and helps explain why people tend to re-gain lost weight.

Prior research by Ebbeling and Ludwig has shown the advantages of a low glycemic load diet for weight loss and diabetes prevention, but the effects of these diets during weight loss maintenance has not been well studied. Research shows that only one in six overweight people will maintain even 10 percent of their weight loss long-term.

The study suggests that a low-glycemic load diet is more effective than conventional approaches at burning calories (and keeping energy expenditure) at a higher rate after weight loss.

"We've found that, contrary to nutritional dogma, all calories are not created equal,"
says Ludwig, also director of the Optimal Weight for Life Clinic at Boston Children's Hospital. "Total calories burned plummeted by 300 calories on the low fat diet compared to the low carbohydrate diet, which would equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity," he says.

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