Calories Counting Is No Longer Enough!

July 27, 2011

We have already discussed this many times, in order to stay lean and fit you should not only exercise but also restrict your total calories intake (aka eat less). This becomes even more true when you’re aging.
Recently, a new research conducted by five nutrition and public health experts at Harvard University and published on The New England Journal of Medicine, has analysed the factors that influence weight gain.
The result of such study are astonishing, to put it mildly. Most of all, they support all our views and especially what we believe in here on TheIronYou.

Actually, they support the very reason this blog exists. You might have then figured out how excited we are. So, let’s see what is all about...


The study involved 120,877 American women and men who were free of chronic diseases and not obese at baseline. Those individual were followed for a period of time that spanned from 12 to 20 years.
The relationships between changes in lifestyle factors and weight change were evaluated at 4-year intervals, with multi variable adjustments made for age, baseline body-mass index for each period, and all lifestyle factors simultaneously.

The analysis

The analysis showed that within each 4-year period, participants gained an average of 3.35 pounds (1.5 kilos).
This was mainly due to increased daily servings of individual dietary components, such as the intake of potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed red meats, and processed meats and was inversely associated with the intake of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt.

Aggregate dietary changes were associated with substantial differences in weight change. Other lifestyle factors were also independently associated with weight change, including physical activity, alcohol use, smoking, sleep (more weight gain with <6 or >8 hours of sleep), and television watching.
Foods that contributed to the greatest weight gain comprised french fries, sodas and sugary food. Instead, fruits, vegetables and whole grains were the foods that resulted in weight loss or no gain when consumed in greater amounts during the study.

What was really surprising is that, an increased intake of dairy products - whether lowfat
or full-fat - had a neutral effect on weight.
Despite conventional advice to eat less fat, weight loss was greatest among people who ate
more yogurt and nuts, including peanut butter, over each four-year period. This was due probably because those foods slowed the return of hunger.
That yogurt, among all foods, was most strongly linked to weight loss was one of the study’s most surprising dietary finding. “Yogurt contains healthful bacteria that in animal studies increase production of intestinal hormones that enhance satiety and decrease hunger,” one of the researchers said. “The bacteria may also raise the body’s metabolic rate, making weight control easier.

Consistent with the new study’s findings is that metabolism takes a hit from refined carbohydrates: sugars and starches stripped of their fiber, like white flour.
When Dr. David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital Boston compared the effects of refined carbohydrates with the effects of whole grains in both animals and people, he found that metabolism slowed with the consumption of refined grains but stayed the same after consumption of whole grains.

The study’s findings

This study shows that conventional wisdom to eat everything in moderation, eat fewer
calories and avoid fatty foods — isn’t the best approach,” Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a
cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the
study, said in an interview. “What you eat makes quite a difference. Just counting calories
won’t matter much unless you look at the kinds of calories you’re eating.
Also untrue, Dr. Mozaffarian said, is the food industry’s claim that there’s no such thing as a
bad food.
There are good foods and bad foods, and the advice should be to eat the good foods more and the bad foods less,” he said. “The notion that it’s O.K. to eat everything in moderation is just an excuse to eat whatever you want.
The study showed that physical activity had the expected benefits for weight control. Those
who exercised less over the course of the study tended to gain weight, while those who increased their activity didn’t.
Those with the greatest increase in physical activity gained fewer pounds than the rest of the participants within each four-year period.

But the researchers found that the kinds of foods people ate had a larger effect over all than
changes in physical activity.
Both physical activity and diet are important to weight control, but if you are fairly active and ignore diet, you can still gain weight” said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health and a co-author of the study.


When this study was published a month ago and I red it, I couldn’t believe it. It just proves, beyond reasonable doubt, what we have been preaching on TheIronYou: small changes in eating, exercise and other habits can result in large changes in body weight over the years.
Remember folks, you will not become overweight overnight. Rather, the pounds will add up slowly, often unnoticed, until one day you will find yourself with too many extra pounds on your body.
Just give it a thought and the rest, well, is history!

The Iron You


  1. great post! I am going to increase my intake of yogurt and nuts... and no more bread! ;)

  2. This is a really good post and absolutely true. It is all about a healthy lifestyle and everything in moderation (and unlike anonymous, I actually do enjoy home made bread once in a while haha).

    I used to dance ballet when I was younger (and so had to be very conscious of my weight), but I never counted calories etc- just ate healthy and balanced!