You mean different foods effect our bodies in different ways? Yes, it really does matter what type of foods you eat. Some types of foods and activities tend to make us fat over time and some types of foods and activities tend to make us lose weight over time. What a concept!
A study called “Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men” was published in New England Journal of Medicine just last month (June 23, 2011) and shows just this. The study was done over a 20 year period (from 1986-2006) and included over 120,000 U.S. men and women. Here is a quick summary of the results (changes are for a 4 year period – most people gained on average about 1 lb per year, but over a 20 year period that is significant):
Foods that make us gain weight over time:
potato chips (1.69 lb)
potatoes (1.28 lb)
sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb)
unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb)
processed meats (0.93 lb)
Foods that help us lose weight over time:
vegetables (−0.22 lb)
whole grains (−0.37 lb)
fruits (−0.49 lb), nuts (−0.57 lb)
yogurt (−0.82 lb)
I hope this is not a surprise to you! Over time, if you eat potatoes (starchy foods), sugar-sweetened beverages, and processed foods you will gain weight. On the other side of the coin, if you eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruits you WILL lose weight over time.
I think we all kinda knew this already, but to actually have studied this in humans over a 20 year period is significant. The unfortunate thing is, I think we have all been a part of this experiment over the last 20 years. The “Standard American Diet” is basically all the things that have now been shown to cause weight gain over time. Hmmm…maybe it is time for a change!
Activities that effect our weight over time:
physical activity (−1.76 lb across quintiles)
alcohol use (0.41 lb per drink per day)
smoking (new quitters, 5.17 lb; former smokers, 0.14 lb)
sleep (more weight gain with <6 or >8 hours of sleep)
television watching (0.31 lb per hour per day)
It should be no surprise physical activity helps lose weight, while alcohol , smoking and watching TV increase weight. I thought it was interesting that there was a sweet spot for your sleep — between 6 and 8 hours — more or less than that and you gained weight.
Here is a great 6 minute video of Dariush Mozaffarian summarizing the study.
Enjoy and eat your veggies!