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Why you shouldn't rely on counting calories to lose weight

Eran Segal from the Weizmann Institute of Science explains why you shouldn’t rely on counting calories. Following is a transcript of the video.

Eran Segal: If you take in less energy than you take out, then you will lose weight. And that idea, of course, it has some truth to it, but then it also oversimplifies the situation. And we know that this is also definitely not the full answer to it.

My name is Eran Segal. I’m a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

You can have a diet where people even eat more calories than some other person, yet they still lose more weight. Then even the same person on diet A can eat, say 2000 calories and gain weight but then on another diet that person would eat 2500 calories but they would be losing weight.

And the reason is because the foods in these different diets may be very different and maybe process very differently by the individual. And it has to do with the amount of energy that that individual may be able to extract from one diet compared to the other.

And we really think that a key aspect for measuring that has to do with your blood glucose level response to those foods. Because that really dictates then the amount of insulin that your body secretes and that is directly affecting the amount of fat storage that will be caused by consumption of these foods.

One of the reasons why you really see this phenomenon that on the same food some person would gain weight and another person would lose weight.

A lot of that we believe has to do with differences that we have in our gut bacteria. Because the gut bacteria would be processing and being involved in metabolizing the foods very differently in each person.

So each of us actually has a tremendous amount of different bacteria living within our body. Some bacteria will thrive on some food and other bacteria will thrive on other foods.

They’re really heavily intertwined with our metabolism and have an enormous impact on our processing of food and on our health and disease and they have been linked to many different diseases to obesity, to diabetes, to heart disease, and even to cancer and Urological disease.

We are still, as a scientific community, trying to understand what is a good and what is a bad bacterial composition. And how we can also change that with diet.

This is a very much an active field of research that we are trying to understand. But, in the meantime, we’ve been able to profile individuals gut bacterial composition and based on their composition, identify foods that would be fitting and matching their own bacterial composition.

So well we still do not understand the full way by which we can affect the good bacteria for the better. We can utilise and harness the information in the gut bacterial composition in order to tailor the diet of an individual to find foods that would be optimal for that person.

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