Though it may not be in the immediate future, I can see a day when all people do what I've done every day for the past 27 years: monitor their consumption of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins much in the way type 1 diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels. That's because science keeps making strides towards proving something I've always suspected.
How long you live or don't live is linked to what you put in your mouth.
Consider this. If there was a pill you could take to guarantee that you would live 29 percent longer, would you take it? If you could afford it, why wouldn't you?
Conversely, if there was a pill that was guaranteed to do the opposite, wouldn't you avoid it at all cost?
While it may seem pointless to ask such a question, here's why I must. According to a meta-analysis of 97 studies published in the January 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that considered nearly 3 million people, those who were significantly overweight a body mass index of over 35 but under 40 had a 29 percent higher chance of dying from all causes than those determined to be a normal weight by the BMI.
The authors of the study admit their findings have limitations. For instance, slightly overweight and obese subjects actually had a slightly lower risk of death than those of normal weight.
Additionally, many experts feel where body fat is located is a far better indicator of mortality than the total amount of it; plus, BMI doesn't always correlate to body-fat percentage. Still, any correlation that comes in at 29 percent among nearly 3 million individuals can not be happenstance.
And the percentage also bears mention because it is clearly within your control. In other research released in January in an attempt to uncover why United States citizens have such a low life expectancy compared to other developed nations, calorie consumption was cited. Americans average 3,770 calories per day, a figure higher than any other country.
But recent research suggests that that statistic may not be the biggest factor in our ever-expanding waistlines.
The composition of the foods we eat the percentage of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins we ingest may be.
Researchers at UCLA have been able to determine genetic factors that make it easier to become obese. They then studied 100 inbred strains of mice to find which ones had these genetic factors.
Later they took newborn mice of all types and fed them a normal diet for eight weeks. For the next eight weeks, the mice received a high-fat, high-sugar diet similar to what someone who subsists on fast food and junk food might eat.
The increase in body fat was not consistent but certainly dramatic.
The body fat percentage of some mice didn't increase at all. Yet for others, it increased more than 600 percent.
Since many of the genetic factors found in these mice can also be found in humans, it is clear that your degree of body fat is to some degree affected by them.
Another interesting element to the study is that virtually all the increases in body fat occurred within four weeks of consuming the bad diet and then remained there, suggesting that mice and humans have what the researchers called an "upper body-fat set-point."
But in the same way the UCLA research has found that "bad" foods can make it easier to gain fat, research reported in the January/ February issue of Health magazine suggests eating "good" foods makes it tougher. In this research, first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who ate a diet comprised of low-carb and high-protein foods burned 300 calories more per day than those not on the diet even though both groups consumed the same number of calories.
Research like this supports a concept that nutrition guru John Parrillo has written about and I've been telling you about for years: nutrient partitioning. It's the belief that the three different macronutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, all get digested and used by the body differently.
That's why all calories are not equal. That's why Parrillo can place bodybuilders and weightlifters on diets of 6,000 to 10,000 calories and have the overwhelming majority of the weight gained be muscle and not fat.
And that's why I foresee a day when science will have enough of an understanding of nutrient partitioning to have all people ingesting a specific amount of the macronutrients in order to gain, maintain, or lose body weight.
So what can you do right now if this concept intrigues you?
Follow some of its most fundamental principles.
What controls whether your body secretes insulin, the hormone that builds muscle and stores fat, or glucagon, the hormone that burns stored fat, is the ratio of proteins to carbohydrates in your diet. If you want to drop some weight without eating less, you simply increase your protein intake while decreasing your simple-carb intake.
The best way to insure this is to weigh foods as well as use lean-protein sources. Many high-protein meat sources also contain high amounts of fat, a macronutrient that nutrient partitioning has shown to easily convert to body fat.