Study: Counting calories, protein intake key to losing weight

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SALT LAKE CITY — For some people who want to be fit and healthy, the information on diets can be overwhelming and confusing.

The Journal of the American Medical Association just released a new study that shows success is found in counting calories and monitoring protein intake.

"This year it's calories, as opposed to fats — transfats, good fats vs. bad fats," said Shawn Stinson, who recently lost 30 pounds. "I think if you give it another year or two we might go back to the protein diet."

Stinson says he pretty much eats what he wants, but in moderation; and he exercises. "(I'm) getting outside, going to the gym, doing something to boost the heart rate, you know, four, five times a week."

No matter how healthy our diet is, if our calories that we're taking in are greater than the calories we're using, we're still going to gain weight.

–Kary Woodruff, dietitian.

Researchers say there's a science to losing weight.

"No matter how healthy our diet is, if our calories that we're taking in are greater than the calories we're using, we're still going to gain weight," said Kary Woodruff, a TOSH Sports Medicine dietitian.

In fact, researchers overfed 25 men and women by about 1,000 calories a day. Those who ate a high-protein diet gained 12 to 15 more pounds than those who ate a regular diet.

"Protein is a very inefficient energy source. We really want our energy to be coming from fat and from carbohydrate, so protein, if it's taken in excess and above that 20 to 30 grams, it's either used for energy, which again isn't very effective, or it gets stored as fat," Woodruff explained.

She also says your daily nutrition should be a balance of:

  • 45 percent to 65 percent carbs (fruits and vegetables, milk and yogurt, whole grains)
  • 20 percent to 35 percent healthy fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish)
  • 10 percent to 35 percent lean proteins (fish, poultry, lean beef, legumes, soy, lowfat dairy, eggs)

Of course, Woodruff also says people should get out and moving. "(We) recommend 30 to 60 minutes of exercise (a day)," she said. "We really want to encourage people to exercise six to seven days a week."

Woodruff recommends Mediterranean diets, like South Beach, and diets that teach you moderation and lifestyle change, like Weight Watchers. She also said any diet that eliminates any one food group is not good. And if you're going to do a diet that prepares meals for you, make sure you learn long-term eating techniques.



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