To begin with, all calories are not created equal.  Losing weight is really about what you eat not how much you eat.  You can eat tons of nutrient dense foods and gain more energy, optimal cognitive function, and optimal physical performance and never gain a pound.  The foods that are problematic are from nutrient depleted foods.  These are your simple carbohydrates and processed foods.  100 calories from processed food does not metabolize the same as 100 calories from say an avocado. And foods metabolize differently from person to person.  So counting calories doesn’t make sense.

Dangers of Very Low Calorie Diets

If you are counting calories, you’re probably eating very little, which keep you hungry throughout the day.  You should not be hungry on a healthful diet.  You should be satisfied throughout the day.

When you eat very little calories, you don’t get enough nutrition.  You need to eat enough of the right foods in order to prevent illness and maintain vital energy so that you are not dependent on caffeine and energy drinks to keep you going.  To maintain a healthful weight – eat more of the right foods to lose weight.  I would even go on to say, eat more fat to lose weight and fat is high in calories. The kind of fat, like the kind of calories makes all the difference.

Also, when you eat very low calories, you “starve” yourself.  And when you skip meals, your metabolism slows down to adjust for the “famine”.  And the reduced calories you do get have a bigger impact on your body.  When you eat normal again, your body hoards calories, packing them into fat to prepare for next self-inflicted famine.

Calories Are Adaptable to the Individual

The calories you metabolize are not necessarily processed in the same way for someone else.  It just really depends on genetics, lifestyle choices, stress level etc.

If someone has been yo-yo dieting for example, they metabolize differently than someone that has not been yo-yo dieting.  Yo-yo diets increase stress on the body and raise cortisol, which will very likely increase fat around your mid-section.

Quality vs. Quantity

Some nutrition advice says to eat fewer calories than you burn, doesn’t matter what you eat, just eat a minimum amount of calories per day.  Doctors and dietitians are still offering this solution to patients and patients are still not losing weight.

Common sense tells us that the metabolic effect of 100 calories of white rice produces a very different insulin (hormone) response than 100 calories of chicken.  Your insulin response determines how much stores as fat.  Rice has a much higher glycemic index – so will spike your blood glucose levels much more rapidly than the chicken.

Here’s another way to look at it – when considering 100 calories from black beans and 100 calories from bagel for example, we know that each has a different amount of nutrients (protein, fat, carbs) and fiber that metabolize very differently in your body.  The carbohydrates from the beans enter the body slowly because of the higher protein and fiber content, but the carbohydrate from the bagel enters the bloodstream very quickly.  Slow foods are more beneficial because your body has time to utilize the carbohydrates properly and use it as energy and not store it as fat.  Fast release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream leads to glucose surge that will cause insulin to store up as fat.

So instead of focusing on how many calories you eat in a day, focus on these things:  

How much color did you have today?

How many fruits and vegetables did you eat?  Eat a variety of colors, red, yellow, orange, blue/purple, green.  Half your meals and snacks should include fruits and/or vegetables.

How many whole foods did you eat today?  

Are you scrounging to get a white bagel and cream cheese and a cup of coffee and consume them in the car while you drive to work, or did you give yourself a little time to make ½ cup of oatmeal, topped with ½ cup of blueberries and two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and pause to enjoy your breakfast before you go to work?  One of these will produce fast insulin response, raise stress hormones and sabotage your efforts to lose weight.

How many healthy fats did you consume today?

Healthy fats include avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, nut butters.  Striving for a fat-free diet will cause more problems than you think.  Healthy fats are vital for: using fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), energy, building healthy cells, hormone production, cognitive function, joint health, beautiful skin, blood sugar balance, and weight-loss to name a few.

I know it’s hard to sort through all the advice that’s out there.  Hang with us.  We’re here to help you achieve your goals and get you to where you need to be – happy, healthy, and full of vitality.  Join our community of people who want to kick tail with you, and be all that you were created to be.

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