How to Lose Weight And Keep It Off? Stop Counting Calories

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Due to its (short term) effectiveness, we've turned the whole "eat less, exercise more" method into a mantra of sorts — and an unavoidable one at that. However, TIME recently reported that experts are giving a new piece of advice for those looking to lose weight for the long term: stop counting calories. Now!

Yep. In a recent commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, says that since the beginning of the “low-fat diet” we have really been keeping our eyes on the number of calories we're consuming. Ludwig explains in the article that the "eat less, exercise more" method may be effective in the short term, but as far as long term weight loss goes, it's not a good idea:

"It’s such simple advice that if it worked, my colleagues and I would be out of a job. The uncomfortable fact is that an exceedingly small number of people can lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off following that advice.”

So what exactly should we be doing or not doing if we are looking to lose excess weight? What's the secret here? Well, the answer is complicated, but a good way to start would be: stop eating refined carbohydrates.

As it turns out, foods like 100-calorie packs and Special K aren't the answer to weight loss. So maybe we already knew that (considering it's impossible to not eat at least five servings of either of those options), but there's more to it. Ludwig explains in the article that refined carbs spike insulin levels, and make your fat cells absorb the calories. Since you’re not getting enough calories from said refined carbs, your brain makes you even more hungry and slows down your metabolism. Basically, foods like white bread are a step back when it comes to losing/controlling weight.

The solution? Protein and fat. Yes, fat. Please eat fat. Ludwig says that foods like avocados, olive oil, and almonds are some of the “healthiest foods we could possibly eat” — and they're full of fat. He also explains that the key to keeping weight down and combating obesity shouldn’t be about avoiding food, it should be about focusing on what we’re eating.

The best thing to take away from the good Dr. Ludwig’s advice: eliminate those refined carbs. Apparently, they’re just making us more hungry — and avocados taste awesome anyway. I’m sure a butter crossant or the occasional (package of) Oreos is fine, as long as you’re not relying on it as a meal.