03 February 2022
The answer is exercise, which can offset the metabolic effects of a high-calorie diet.
New research has for the first time demonstrated that exercise can offset what scientists call "metabolic inflexibility," a condition in which the body becomes less efficient at using fat as fuel during periods of rest. This condition is associated with obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
The finding could have implications for people who are overweight or obese and trying to lose weight. Often, these individuals restrict calories, but they also start exercising so they don't lose muscle mass. However, this strategy may not be enough to overcome their reduced ability to use fat as fuel.
"Exercise cannot fix everything," said senior author Herman Pontzer of Hunter College in New York, "but it appears to improve metabolic flexibility — our bodies' ability to switch from burning one fuel source (carbohydrates) to another (fat)."
While obesity is the most well-known of the high-calorie diet–related diseases, other conditions are also influenced by eating too many calories. What is the best strategy for avoiding chronic diseases caused by a high-calorie diet?
The answer is not to follow a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet. While this may be an effective way to lose weight in the short term, it may not necessarily be better than diets that include carbohydrates. In fact, there are some health risks associated with diets that are high in protein and low in carbohydrate.
Another bad choice is skipping meals altogether. It is important to eat regularly and eat the right amount of food in order to avoid being hungry or overfull. This helps prevent overeating and weight gain that can occur from overfullness after a meal.
A better choice is to focus on eating foods that are low in fat, particularly saturated fats. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and poultry, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, beans and legumes.
An even better choice is to focus on eating foods that are rich in nutrients but low in calories. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, lean meats.
In terms of preventing chronic diseases caused by a high calorie diet, the best strategy is to address the cause of the problem: too many calories. If a patient has trouble identifying how many calories they are consuming, and how much physical activity they are getting, I would recommend keeping a food diary and recording every time they eat and drink something (including water), and also noting any physical activity that could count as exercise.
Once you have some numbers in mind, it's important to determine whether you're eating more calories than you should be for your age, weight, and height. This can be done with a simple online calculator, or with a chart available at the doctor's office. The goal is to find out if you fall into the range of normal, overweight, or obese.
Once you know where you fall on the spectrum, my next suggestion would be to meet with a nutritionist who specializes in weight management. If it turns out that you are consuming an excess of calories, there are ways to make simple lifestyle changes that will help reduce your calorie intake without making drastic changes to your diet.