I’m so against calorie counting that when I hear people talking about losing weight by reducing their calorie intake I have a bit of an allergic reaction. That’s because I know how damaging this can be to someone’s health and I’ve seen first-hand how very unsustainable this ‘diet’ is.
According to many diets based on lowering the caloric intake, weight gain results from eating too many calories and the only way to lose weight is to basically eat less and move more. If only it would be that simple…but it’s not, not in the slightest.
Let’s start with the basics and see what a calorie is. A calorie is a unit of energy, often used as a measurement of the amount of energy that food provides. The food we eat is broken down and it turns into energy. Our body requires energy to function, regenerate, move etc., so we need these calories in our life. But it isn’t the number of calories so much as the type of calories we eat that can make a difference in terms of how much we weight, and more importantly, how healthy we are.
Why is that?
As an example, if we look at an avocado and a chocolate bar, the avocado has an average of 134 calories and the chocolate bar has around 120 calories. You would think that eating the chocolate will definitely help your weight loss journey. Let’s think again: the avocado is packed with vitamins (K, folate, vit C) and minerals (potassium, copper, magnesium) which are so nourishing for the body. It is also a good source of protein and good fats which will take longer to be broken down and digested. Even if the avocado has a higher caloric load, it should keep you full for longer and you will tend to eat less. So not only that you will give your cells healthy ‘fuel’, but you shouldn't feel hungry again shortly after eating the avocado.
Let’s now look at the ‘good’ old chocolate bar: well, it is basically loaded with sugar, much more than our body would need. Any amount of proteins or even minerals this chocolate might have is wiped out by the mighty sugar which gets digested very quickly, and you know what happens? Our lovely pancreas releases more insulin to cope with the sugar overload. Too much sugar in the blood is toxic so insulin will then store any sugar excess (which is not needed for the immediate use by the cells) in our muscles, a bit in our liver, and the rest in our adipose tissues; it basically turns into fat…FAT. Because the chocolate bar is digested so quickly, most probably you will be hungry shortly afterwards and you will need to eat again. Can you see the vicious circle?
So, food is so much more than just an energy source, it is the best source to get vitamins, minerals, antioxidants so we can thrive and be healthy. The way I approach most weight loss casees is by actually encouraging people to eat high caloric foods with proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats. Not only they can mantain our satiety but they can be so nourishing for our body.