New research finds 'calories in, calories out' model for weight loss is flawed

For a long time, personal trainers and nutrition experts have used the same adage for weight loss: "calories in versus calories out". 

But new research shows that theory may actually be flawed and instead we should be focusing on what we're eating, rather than 'how much', when trying to lose weight. 

It turns out for those wanting to lose weight, monitoring carbohydrate intake may be the key to success, rather than counting calories. 

The weight loss research was published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and indicates the diet message of 'moving more and eating less' has doomed diet efforts and may have even led to widespread obesity. 

"Calorie restriction for obesity treatment results in weight loss - initially - giving patients the impression they have conscious control over their body weight," the study's authors state.

"But predictable biological responses oppose weight loss, including decreased metabolic rate and elevated hunger."

This can lead to a binging and restricting cycle, which often leads to greater weight gain over time. 

Instead, those seeking to lose weight should focus on the hormonal response to certain macronutrients, the authors found.  

By examining multiple studies, they found that when high glycemic index foods - carbohydrates that cause a rapid increase in blood sugar - are consumed, the body responds hormonally. It both increases insulin, a hormone used to direct sugar into the cells, and suppresses glucagon, a hormone used to release stored glucose when levels are too low. 

The combination of the two set up the stage for fat storage by telling our fat cells to store calories. Overall, it suggests that the quantity of food consumed is less important than quality. 

According to Today, lower carbohydrate approaches have typically been found better to be better for weight loss, as they "limit and control the responses of insulin, glucagon and even leptin". 

"This all occurs in the absence of counting calories or eating less."