We’ve all heard the phrase, “a calorie is a calorie,” no matter whether it comes from a fat, protein or carbohydrate source. However, new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is now questioning this concept.Participants in the study followed three of the most popular weight-loss diets out there: low-carbohydrate, low-glycemic and low-fat. Each participant was allowed 1,600 calories daily on their assigned diet, and advanced tracking technology was used to determine metabolic rate while following these specific diets.MORE: When Calorie Counting Doesn’t Cut ItThe result? The low-glycemic diet smoked its competition. When looking at the extra calories burned per day by metabolism, alone, (125 calories daily) just by following the low-glycemic diet, as well as the diet’s positive side effects on the body, the low-glycemic diet produced the greatest bodily benefit. The low-fat diet showed a severe slowdown in the participants’ metabolism, allowing minimal caloric loss. While the low-carbohydrate diet did have an even greater boost on the body’s metabolism than the low-glycemic diet, participants on the diet showed high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and C-reactive protein, which causes inflammation in the body. Research shows that chronic high levels of cortisol and C-reactive protein can increase a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes complications later in life. Therefore, the low-glycemic diet was deemed the winner of being the most health-conscious, weight-loss eating plan overall.The low-glycemic diet emphasizes eating non-starchy vegetables, fruit and whole grains, as well as beans, lentils, lean proteins and healthy fats. This diet boosts metabolism, stabilizes blood sugars and helps control heart-health markers such as cortisol and C-reactive protein. So, how does this diet work? High-glycemic foods —such as white bread, rice and pasta, potatoes, cookies, candy and basically any high sugar and any highly processed food—rapidly raise blood sugar and insulin levels in the body, followed by sharp decline shortly after consumption. Once your blood sugar and insulin levels take a nosedive, your body is hungry again and craves more of the very same foods that caused the roller coaster to begin with. Seeing a trend?MORE: Conquer Cravings With These Low-Glycemic BreakfastsLow-glycemic foods, on the other hand, are digested more slowly, allowing for a more gradual increase in blood sugar and insulin levels, followed by a slow and regulated insulin decline. This allows for better control of appetite and a delay in those pestering hunger cues from the brain.At any given time, millions of Americans are fighting a losing battle with their diet plans. Those individuals who do manage to lose weight often only see success temporarily, before the pounds start coming back on (and then some). Diets can fail for a variety of reasons—they may be too restrictive, too expensive or simply lack variety. Results from this study indicate that the low-glycemic diet offers a more-liberal eating option, with an abundance of healthy food choices. This allows for a greater chance of creating a true lifestyle change focused on controlling weight in a healthy way.Jennifer Nesbitt contributed to this column.MORE: Can Certain Foods Speed Up Weight Loss?