By Daniel G. Amen

Don’t let anyone tell you that calories don’t count. They absolutely do. But it is not as simple as calories in vs. calories out. I admit that I used to think that as long as I stayed within a certain calorie range, my weight would be fine. But I was wrong.

You have to focus on eating “high-quality calories.” That means eating the apple instead of the apple pie a la mode, the almonds instead of the Almond Roca, and the steel cut organic oatmeal instead of the oatmeal cookie.

The research about calories is very clear. If you eat more calories than you need, you will be fatter, sicker, and less productive. In a famous study involving rhesus monkeys, researchers followed a large group of monkeys for 20 years. One group ate all the food they wanted; the other group ate 30 percent less. The monkeys who ate anything they wanted were three times more likely to suffer from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Plus, researchers saw significant shrinkage in the important decision-making areas of their brains. Over the two decades of the study half of the all-you-can-eat monkeys died while only 20 percent of the restricted-calorie monkeys died.

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