Do you feel like you’ve been on a diet most of your life? Or since having children, you can’t get back to your pre-birth weight? And now, your relationship with food is consumed with counting calories, watching your portion size or feeling deprived?
For some, calorie counting is old school, a thing of the past, and a weight loss fad, backed by poor science.
For others, counting calories is key in their weight loss goals and food choices. It amazes me to see, how the concept of ‘calorie counting’ through years of marketing, still influence people’s food choices today.
I don’t count calories now, but I did fifteen years ago, when I too fell prey to the same misleading marketing slogans. Dieting was a part of my life from my teens until I was 30. As a body builder, I weighed my food portions to ensure I stuck to my allocated calories. Obsessive – I was.
By thirty, I had broken free from this flawed idea. Counting calories were ‘out’ and I have not been on a diet since.
Over the years, I’ve helped many women get off the rollercoaster of ‘yoyo dieting. Yes, it is possible.
One of the greatest impacts of their success was education.
Understanding what was making them fat, and calorie counting being a part of the problem not the solution.
I want to encourage you to question your weight loss strategies and help support you to focus on building health.
When your health is your focus, weight loss occurs naturally.
So please read on, as I share two of the biggest myths, in relationship to calorie counting and fat loss.
Two of The Most Important Myths About Calorie Counting:
1. Fat Loss is a Simple Equation of Calories in Verse Calories Out
Let me give you an example…
Suppose you take in 2000 calories per day, and you burn off 2000 calories per day – you’re not gaining or losing weight.
However, you want to lose 7kg.
So, you decide to drop your calorie intake to 1500. Therefore, you’re still burning 2000 but taking in 1500, so there’s a total deficit of 500 calories (i.e. you are consuming 500 less calories than you are burning).
You figure you will lose ½ kg a week, in 15 weeks you’ll have lost around 7kg. Right?
We’ve known this for centuries, but the marketing of this concept is so well done, we keep being lured back into its empty promises. The truth is, your body is way more intelligent.
If you are burning 2000 calories, and taking in 1500, your body knows if this continues, you will die. So what does it do? Well after the initial 2-3kg’s are lost (mostly excess fluid) and a little fat, the body reduces it base metabolic rate (BMR) to compensate for the reduction in calories. In fact, it will go a little lower than the 1500 calories, so it has a buffer.
Now your BMR is around 1400 calories, but you are still taking in 1500 calories. The result – you feel cold, tired and “hangry” (moody and hungry from a lack sustained nutrients).
Now you start to gain weight, and eventually your back where you started. And in most cases with a few extra kg’s – and so the rollercoaster of yoyo dieting rollercoaster begins.
Next month I’m going to be discussing “The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting- Why, When And How”. I will be sharing why intermittent fasting is so much more effective for sustainable weight loss than counting calories. One of the reasons for this, is fasting does not reduce your BMR.
2. All Calories Are Created Equal
No, they are not.
1gram of fat = 9 calories
1gram of protein = 4 calories
1gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
But there is much more to it than this.
This wildly misunderstood idea, all calories are created equal, is partially responsible for the dangerous and ineffective point system, of diets such as Weight Watchers. In this point system, the point value for each food, factors in calories, fat and fibre.
Foods with high fat carry more points.
Do you think your body cares about calories? Or even know what a calorie is?
Your body does not respond to calories. It has no way of counting calories. It is a flawed model for understanding how the body burns energy.
For example, how the body metabolises 1000 calories of lamb versus 1000 calories of milk chocolate is completely different. They may have the same calorie value, but the metabolic response is not the same.
What is the number one, scientifically proven cause for fat gain, obesity and diabetes? Insulin resistance – caused by consistently elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels.
It’s a little scientific but here’s how it works….
1000 calories of milk chocolate (sugar) is going to spike your blood sugar levels, causing the release of Insulin to lower and stabilise your blood sugars.
Meanwhile, 1000 calories of lamb (protein) has minimal effect on your blood sugar levels.
And 1000 calories worth of coconut oil (fat) has zero effect on your blood glucose levels.
Let’s consider, the type of foods that have the lowest calorie value.
Why? Because when your counting your calories, naturally you are focused on foods with the least calories – right? And why? So you can eat more.
Foods with the lowest calorie count, are those filled with sugar (processed carbohydrates and fast foods). Every time you eat them, they increase your blood glucose levels, causing a spike in your insulin. Over time this increases your insulin resistance and causes you to store more fat.
These low-calorie foods are known as empty foods, they offer no nutritional value and they don’t satisfy your hunger. The continual spike in blood glucose, leaves you with low energy, moody and looking for the next low-calorie snack.
The result – slow weight gain.
So, if you never counted another calorie in your life again, it would be a good thing.
The winning formula for sustainable weight loss, lies in the quality of your food. The quality of its source, and the process it’s been through to getting on your plate.
Think seasonal, local and ethical. Think wholefood, minimally processed, organic where possible.
Eat when you are hungry, fast when you are not, listen to your body’s feedback – physically, mentally and emotionally in relationship to the food you eat.