Part II –
…Thus, this reality has led me to Brink’s Unified Theory of Nutrition which states:
“Total calories dictates how much weight a person gains or loses;
macro nutrient ratios dictates what a person gains or loses”
This seemingly simple statement allows people to understand the differences between the two schools of thought. For example, studies often find that two groups of people put on the same calorie intakes but very different ratios of carbs, fats, and proteins will lose different amounts of bodyfat and or lean body mass (i.e., muscle, bone, etc.).
Some studies find for example people on a higher protein lower carb diet lose approximately the same amount of weight as another group on a high carb lower protein diet, but the group on the higher protein diet lost more actual fat and less lean body mass (muscle). Or, some studies using the same calorie intakes but different macro nutrient intakes often find the higher protein diet may lose less actual weight than the higher carb lower protein diets, but the actual fat loss is higher in the higher protein low carb diets. This effect has also been seen in some studies that compared high fat/low carb vs. high carb/low fat diets. The effect is usually amplified if exercise is involved as one might expect.
Of course these effects are not found universally in all studies that examine the issue, but the bulk of the data is clear: diets containing different macro nutrient ratios do have different effects on human physiology even when calorie intakes are identical (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11).
Or, as the authors of one recent study that looked at the issue concluded:
“Diets with identical energy contents can have different effects on leptin concentrations, energy expenditure, voluntary food intake, and nitrogen balance, suggesting that the physiologic adaptations to energy restriction can be modified by dietary composition.”(12)
The point being, there are many studies confirming that the actual ratio of carbs, fats, and proteins in a given diet can effect what is actually lost (i.e., fat, muscle, bone, and water) and that total calories has the greatest effect on how much total weight is lost. Are you starting to see how my unified theory of nutrition combines the “calorie is a calorie” school with the “calories don’t matter” school to help people make decisions about nutrition?
Knowing this, it becomes much easier for people to understand the seemingly conflicting diet and nutrition advice out there (of course this does not account for the down right unscientific and dangerous nutrition advice people are subjected to via bad books, TV, the ‘net, and well meaning friends, but that’s another article altogether).
Knowing the above information and keeping the Unified Theory of Nutrition in mind, leads us to some important and potentially useful conclusions:
An optimal diet designed to make a person lose fat and retain as much LBM as possible is not the same as a diet simply designed to lose weight.
A nutrition program designed to create fat loss is not simply a reduced calorie version of a nutrition program designed to gain weight, and visa versa.
Diets need to be designed with fat loss, NOT just weight loss, as the goal, but total calories can’t be ignored.
This is why the diets I design for people-or write about-for gaining or losing weight are not simply higher or lower calorie versions of the same diet. In short: diets plans I design for gaining LBM start with total calories and build macro nutrient ratios into the number of calories required. However, diets designed for fat loss (vs. weight loss!) start with the correct macro nutrient ratios that depend on variables such as amount of LBM the person carries vs. bodyfat percent , activity levels, etc., and figure out calories based on the proper macro nutrient ratios to achieve fat loss with a minimum loss of LBM. The actual ratio of macro nutrients can be quite different for both diets and even for individuals.
Diets that give the same macro nutrient ratio to all people (e.g., 40/30/30, or 70,30,10, etc.) regardless of total calories, goals, activity levels, etc., will always be less than optimal. Optimal macro nutrient ratios can change with total calories and other variables.
Perhaps most important, the unified theory explains why the focus on weight loss vs. fat loss by the vast majority of people, including most medical professionals, and the media, will always fail in the long run to deliver the results people want.
Finally, the Universal Theory makes it clear that the optimal diet for losing fat, or gaining muscle, or what ever the goal, must account not only for total calories, but macro nutrient ratios that optimize metabolic effects and answer the questions: what effects will this diet have on appetite? What effects will this diet have on metabolic rate? What effects will this diet have on my lean body mass (LBM)? What effects will this diet have on hormones; both hormones that may improve or impede my goals? What effects will this diet have on (fill in the blank)?
Simply asking, “how much weight will I lose?” is the wrong question which will lead to the wrong answer. To get the optimal effects from your next diet, whether looking to gain weight or lose it, you must ask the right questions to get meaningful answers.
Asking the right questions will also help you avoid the pitfalls of unscientific poorly thought out diets which make promises they can’t keep and go against what we know about human physiology and the very laws of physics!
BTW, both ebooks also cover supplements for their respective goals along with exercise advice.
There are of course many additional questions that can be asked and points that can be raised as it applies to the above, but those are some of the key issues that come to mind. Bottom line here is, if the diet you are following to either gain or loss weight does not address those issues and or questions, then you can count on being among the millions of disappointed people who don’t receive the optimal results they had hoped for and have made yet another nutrition “guru” laugh all the way to the bank at your expense.
Any diet that claims calories don’t matter, forget it. Any diet that tells you they have a magic ratio of foods, ignore it. Any diet that tells you any one food source is evil, it’s a scam. Any diet that tells you it will work for all people all the time no matter the circumstances, throw it out or give it to someone you don’t like!
(1) Farnsworth E, Luscombe ND, Noakes M, Wittert G, Argyiou E, Clifton PM. Effect of a high-protein, energy-restricted diet on body composition, glycemic control, and lipid concentrations in overweight and obese hyperinsulinemic men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jul;78(1):31-9.
(2) Baba NH, Sawaya S, Torbay N, Habbal Z, Azar S, Hashim SA. High protein vs high carbohydrate hypoenergetic diet for the treatment of obese hyperinsulinemic subjects. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Nov;23(11):1202-6.
(3) Parker B, Noakes M, Luscombe N, Clifton P. Effect of a high-protein, high-monounsaturated fat weight loss diet on glycemic control and lipid levels in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2002 Mar;25(3):425-30.
(4) Skov AR, Toubro S, Ronn B, Holm L, Astrup A.Randomized trial on protein vs carbohydrate in ad libitum fat reduced diet for the treatment of obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 May;23(5):528-36.
(5) Piatti PM, Monti F, Fermo I, Baruffaldi L, Nasser R, Santambrogio G, Librenti MC, Galli-Kienle M, Pontiroli AE, Pozza G. Hypocaloric high-protein diet improves glucose oxidation and spares lean body mass: comparison to hypocaloric high-carbohydrate diet. Metabolism. 1994 Dec;43(12):1481-7.
(6) Layman DK, Boileau RA, Erickson DJ, Painter JE, Shiue H, Sather C, Christou DD. A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr. 2003 Feb;133(2):411-7.
(7) Golay A, Eigenheer C, Morel Y, Kujawski P, Lehmann T, de Tonnac N. Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet? Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996 Dec;20(12):1067-72.
(8) Meckling KA, Gauthier M, Grubb R, Sanford J. Effects of a hypocaloric, low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, blood lipids, blood pressure, glucose tolerance, and body composition in free-living overweight women. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;80(11):1095-105.
(9) Borkman M, Campbell LV, Chisholm DJ, Storlien LH. Comparison of the effects on insulin sensitivity of high carbohydrate and high fat diets in normal subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 Feb;72(2):432-7.
(10) Brehm BJ, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Apr;88(4):1617-23.
(11) Garrow JS, Durrant M, Blaza S, Wilkins D, Royston P, Sunkin S. The effect of meal frequency and protein concentration on the composition of the weight lost by obese subjects. Br J Nutr. 1981 Jan;45(1):5-15.
(12) Agus MS, Swain JF, Larson CL, Eckert EA, Ludwig DS. Dietary composition and physiologic adaptations to energy restriction.Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Apr;71(4):901-7.
Will Brink writes for numerous health, fitness, medical, and bodybuilding publications. His articles can be found in Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Oxygen, Women’s World, The Townsend Letter For Doctors and many more. His website is www.brinkzone.com