Just like skinny doesn’t necessarily equal healthy, fewer calories don’t necessarily mean a food is better for you. This is the kind of whole food philosophy we ascribe to ourselves and love Dr. Libby Weaver’s deep dive into the topic via our friends at Food Matters. Read more about the science behind the calorie game and learn why whole foods do indeed matter….
How many of us have been told that if we burn more calories than we eat, weight loss will be inevitable? How many of us have discovered that, in the modern world, this century-old philosophy does not seem to apply to our bodies no matter how hard we work? But this is often when the confusion sets in.
Weight loss or weight maintenance is meant to be simple right? It’s defined by calories in versus calories out, so as long as you abide by this, you will experience results, right? But when that doesn’t appear to be happening in your case, cue “I must be doing something wrong; ok, I’ll exercise even more and I’ll eat fewer calories than I already am, that should work!” Unfortunately, more often than not, it doesn’t.
This fundamental of nutrition has been questioned and we are seeing more evidence showing that not all calories are equal. But how is that possible? Our bodies react very differently with calories from different sources; they may go through similar digestive processes but the biochemical reactions they trigger can be completely different.
Brocolli vs. Soft Drink: To put this into context, let’s compare how 1,000 calories from a fizzy drink are metabolized in the body versus 1,000 calories from broccoli. When you consume a fizzy drink, your body quickly absorbs the fiber-less sugars, the glucose spikes your blood sugar (stimulating insulin and subsequently signaling to your body to store body fat), inflammation is increased, triglycerides are raised (essentially fat in your blood), and leptin, one of the hormones involved in appetite regulation, is blocked. Leptin is responsible for signaling your brain that you’re full. If the brain doesn’t get told it’s full, you continue to eat and, especially on low-fat high-carbohydrate diets, experience the feeling of “never being full.”
On the contrary if you were to consume 1,000 calories from broccoli – a high fiber option that barely registers an effect on your blood glucose, you don’t trigger the same biochemical reaction at all. First, you wouldn’t even be able to consume 1,000 calories from broccoli as that would be close to 21 cups – leptin would kick in and let you know you’ve had enough and you would experience the feeling of being full… and incredibly nourished (I just love broccoli!).
STOP COUNTING, START Nourishing: I have witnessed this for many years in clinical practice. When my patients stop counting calories and focus on nourishing their body by eating real food, good fats and plenty of vegetables, they have a rapid improvement in their overall well-being but they also feel satisfied. It changes their relationship with food completely. Often they end up eating more calories than they could ever imagine and yet the weight starts to fall off, and often for the first time in years.
THE *Kind* oF calories Matter: The difference in the way our bodies metabolize calories is demonstrated quite brilliantly in “That Sugar Film.” The recently released film follows Damon Gameau, an Australian man who has eaten a real food diet for at least the last 3 years, with minimal to no refined sugar. He essentially decides to go back on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet to demonstrate how much sugar people are consuming on a daily basis, particularly without really knowing. It quite dramatically shows the demise of his general well being and on the same or fewer calories than he was previously consuming (around 2,300 calories) he started to quite dramatically gain weight, particularly around his middle, which as we know is the most dangerous for our health. Some naturally high-fat (and, therefore, high-calorie) foods are some of the most healthful we can eat in terms of promoting weight loss and reducing our risk of diabetes or heart disease. Avocados are a great example, a high-calorie food full of helpful good fats.
To read the entire post, visit Food Matters by clicking though here!