“Eat less and exercise more and you’ll lose weight.”
But is it true? Can you eat 1,000 calories a day of chocolate cake and potato chips, hit the gym for an hour and still lose weight?
Are 160 calories of almonds going to impact your body in the same way as 160 calories of a sugary soda or a candy bar?
You probably already know the answer to those questions is a resounding “No!” Honestly a calorie is not a calorie! While they’re equal by definition in terms of their energy content, your body processes each in a specific way, and these differences have serious implications for weight management.
Let’s take it one step further. Even if you eat 1,000 calories of junk food, can you exercise enough to burn it all off and end up losing weight anyway?
Again, that just doesn’t work so the answer is “No.” The truth is you can’t out-train a bad diet but you can eat your way to a fitter and healthier body.
The point is this: the source of the calories is far more important than the amount, since they are not all metabolized equally. Calories from carbohydrates (sugars, starchy carbs and grains) raise levels of the storage hormone, insulin and are stored as body fat. Healthy fats, which are the most efficient fuel for your body and clean protein (think grass-fed, free range, wild caught) have very little impact on your insulin and so help you lose weight.
All these years we have been urged to eat low fat, diet foods, replacing real foods like meat, eggs and avocados with low fat, sugary carbs, exercise like fiends and stick to a certain number of calories and where has it gotten us? Overweight, obese, in many cases malnourished, diabetic and suffering from heart disease and cancer. Not a very pretty picture.
I like to keep things simple and basic. I tell clients to choose real, whole, high quality one-ingredient foods, eliminate (for the most part) or at least limit grains, sugar and other starchy carbs replacing them with non-starchy veggies to give you fiber and healthy carbs.
Pay more attention to the quality of your food and the breakdown of the macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats) than the number of calories.
Dr. Mercola says: “Carbohydrate intake is the primary factor that determines your body’s fat ratio, and processed grains and sugars (particularly fructose) are the primary culprits behind our skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates.”
Is that all there is to it? Not quite – there are certainly some details we tweak including hydration, supplements to be sure you are covering your nutritional bases, inflammation, type and amount of exercise, adequate sleep, hormonal imbalances, stress and self-sabotaging beliefs, meal timing, food allergies and sensitivities among others.
There’s no “one size fits all” answer. I truly wish there was. But when we use common sense and get back to basics, it’s almost amazing to see how well our bodies respond.
Do you count calories? Have you found it to be helpful if you are trying to lose weight?
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