A recent commentary published in the Journal of Sports Medicine emphasizes the crucial role of food choices and diet quality in the fight against weight gain. Even though exercise plays an essential role, it does not alone counteract the effects of poor dietary choices. The amount of excessive calories we consume daily is too high to be burned by the addition of an exercise schedule (if this is possible at all, it applies to elite athletes only).
The authors explain that even though calories matter, their source and quality matter more. The quality of calories has two significant roles: it predicts a person’s health outcome in the long run, and it determines the amount of calories a person needs to consume to feel satisfied. To illustrate the point, an extra 150 calories a day consumed from sugar puts one at an 11-fold increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes as compared to the same number of calories obtained from fat or protein. The authors stress the need for a plant based diet, however not one low in carbohydrates. They also point out that later in life up to 40% of people with a normal body mass index will develop metabolic abnormalities such as hypertension and dyslipidemia.