What is more important, the type or the amount of food I consume?

Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine
The bottom line is if you burn more calories than you take in you will lose weight. That being said increased fats can effect your cholesterol which causes heart disease. So you really should look at both.
Heidi Skolnik, MS
Sports Medicine
For weight loss, hands down, the amount you eat matters most. You can lose weight eating 100% fat, sugar or protein as long as calories in are less than calories expended. For health, what you eat matters most. Getting in nutrient rich foods that protect your cells, maintain muscle, keep your intestinal health, help with everyday repair of normal wear and tear, help maintain good energy and clear thinking is absolutely imperative (along with good genes) for well-being. Hopefully, you do not need to make the choice between type OR amount but rather can consume appropriate portions of food that is also of good quality. Keep in mind though, that when the urge does hit for foods that are less than nutrient rich, enjoy and savor every bite -- while keeping portions in check.
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT

When it comes to weight-loss it seems the amount of food you consume is more important than the types of food you consume.

A 2009 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined longer-term dieting, and asked what was more important for losing weight: the composition of the diet (that is, the proportions of fat vs. protein vs. carbohydrate) or caloric intake. In this study, the subjects (811 men and women) were randomly assigned to one of 4 diets, each emphasizing different ratios of fat, protein, and carbohydrates but all of which totaled at least 1,200 calories. The participants were encouraged to exercise at least 90 minutes a day and also received counseling every 8 weeks over the 2-year period.

What the researchers found is that reaching your weight-loss goals is primarily influenced by the amount of calories consumed vs. the amount of calories burned and not what those calories are made of. Regardless of which diet the subjects were on, their weight loss and decreases in waist circumference were the same for all 4 groups. Overall, participants lost an average of 13 pounds the first 6 months and kept 9 pounds off after 2 years. As a group, they all showed improvements in LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglyceride, and insulin levels.

The bottom line is that as long as your diet is balanced and healthy overall, you can lose weight and keep a good amount of it off if you watch the calories and participate in regular physical activity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.