Total energy intake or macronutrient choice?
There is currently a vigorous scientific debate about how health benefits are achieved when following different diets that have very different macronutrient composition. Although a majority of studies indicate that these benefits are a result of a decreased energy intake, there are also clear indications that macronutrient choice can make a difference. We are just beginning to understand how long-term macronutrient choice could affect health.
How will macronutrient choice affect me?
Unfortunately, there really is not a simple answer. Everyone’s genetic background is unique, and so your macronutrient requirements may not fall within a certain diet. This is often why there isn’t ONE diet that works for everyone (although proponents often will tell you so). You can compare this with how different people respond differently to the exact same medication. This is a result of hundreds to thousands of discrete genetic variations and the same principle is true for nutrition. We can give you some basic tools to understand what it is that your body needs to be strong and healthy.
Can we predict macronutrient needs for unique individuals?
At this time, no. There are multiple companies on the market that insist that they can sequence your genetic code and predict your metabolic type and macronutrient needs. Do you respond better to high fat or high protein? This is absolutely not possible yet with today’s science. We are moving in the right direction, but any claim that this can be done now is false. That is why you need to try different approaches with common sense and perhaps exclude extreme options.
Are there instances when we do know how to pick macronutrients?
Yes, there are. By now most of us know that large amounts of sugar can stress your body and trigger health issues. But sugar can be very useful too. If consumed during activity, there are actually no significant negative effects, and there are real positive effects as increased performance for certain activities (we will touch on this again in upcoming modules). For certain conditions you should follow your MD’s advice. Sugar can be bad for diabetics as they have a defect in their ability to absorb it from the blood. Interestingly though, now we know that some sugary products could be very bad for one diabetic and have no negative effect on another due to the differences in the genetic makeup.
If you try different macronutrient variations, ask yourself: Do you feel that you have energy to do what you want? Is it sustainable?