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What's more important for weight loss—counting fat grams or counting calories? — S. Green, MD

Anne Coulston



Weight loss can be boiled down to one simple principle: Burn more calories than you eat. Basically, it doesn't matter if the calories come from fat, protein or carbohydrates, but there are a few things you should keep in mind before you throw your fat counter away:

1. Fat contains nine calories per gram compared to four calories per gram for carbohydrate and protein.
2. Eating a diet full of low-fat foods, such as lean meats, poultry, fruits, vegetables and whole grains may be more satisfying than eating the same amount of calories from high-fat food. Consider that one small fast-food hamburger with all the trimmings has as many calories as a turkey sandwich almost twice as big.
3. Remember that fat-free foods often use carbohydrates to make up for lost fat and end up with the same number of calories.
4. Another reason to watch your fat intake: Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer.

About Anne Coulston

Ann M. Coulston, M.S.,R.D., graduated from Cornell University with a master's degree in nutritional science and is a former research dietitian at Stanford University Medical Center, and a past president of both the American Dietetic Association (1998-1999) and the California Dietetic Association. Ann specializes in clinical research on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and collaborates with medical scientists in research on diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

She has been recognized for excellence in the practice of research and clinical nutrition by the American Dietetic Association Foundation, and is the recipient of the American Dietetic Association's Medallion award for leadership. The California Dietetic Association has awarded her the Distinguished Service and Outstanding Member awards.

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