Counting calories is NOT the solution to long term weight loss
I was listening to the news last week about calories and how many are in the food we eat. The journalist was reporting from a coffee shop and asking people in the que if they had any idea how many calories were in the foods they’d picked to eat. This instantly had my attention for 2 reasons:
- The people in the que couldn’t explain what calories were. Only one person correctly stated a calorie was a measurement of heat.
- The emphasis of nutrition is still very much on calorie counting. This method of weight loss is out dated and inaccurate.
I’m going to try and dispel this theory by giving you a few examples of why calorie counting is nonsensical.
What we have been lead to believe over the years is if you consume 1500 calories per day, and you expend (burn off) 2000, the 500 calorie deficit per day will cause weight loss. Build this up over a week and you have your 3500 calorie burn – equivalent to 1lb weight loss. This is the safe recommendation for weekly weight loss.
Suppose your 1500 calories per day were coming from fruit, oats or cereal for breakfast, sandwich, salad or soup for lunch and pasta, rice or potatoes for dinner with meat and veg… Sounds pretty healthy right? Wrong! This is completely unbalanced and carbohydrate heavy.
Do we really know how many calories we burn per day?
I’ve had clients who track their workouts meticulously using a heart rate monitor, then use the ‘300 workout calories burned’ to have a treat in costa! I’m serious, this is a true story.
One persons calorie burn is going to be completely different to another. We can roughly estimate how much energy we’ve used during a workout session, but do you ever take into consideration how many calories you use just by using your brain, growing your hair, breathing, blinking, eating and one that’s hardly ever considered – sleeping.
These are different for us all and I don’t think we can ever really know for sure the data, but one thing I can tell you with absolute conviction. Your weight loss and fat loss is determined by the function and release of your hormones, enzymes and how they’re metabolised.
Imagine a large room and 500 people enter it over the course of the day – this represents your body fat. If your hormones are working correctly, these 500 people (give or take a few,) will leave the room during your sleep.
But what if they didn’t leave?
The following day another 500 people enter. It’s starting to get a little crowded now. You feel like you’re putting on body fat so you start to cut calories. Only 200 people per day are entering the room now, but still no-one is leaving.
This is the main reason we get fatter, not through over eating as believed with calories. It’s the type of food you eat and the responses of your hormones.
If this resonates with you, keep reading. Maybe you’re under-eatting yet not losing any weight? Maybe you’re cutting calories or saving calories for social occasions? Are you skipping meals? Yet you’re putting on weight, storing body fat and your waist is increasing??? Confusing and frustrating to say the least.
In my professional opinion, it sounds like you could be suffering from Metabolic Syndrome.
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
It’s the name given to a group of risk factors that increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. There are 5 main risk factors which I’ll list below. If you have 3 or more of these conditions you have metabolic syndrome.
- A large waist line or access fat in the abdominal area. This is the typical ‘apple’ shaped person and is sometime referred to as abdominal obesity.
- High triglyceride level. This is a type of fat found in the blood, often saturated fat has been blamed for this but that is untrue and lacks evidence. (Read more on saturated fat here)
- Low HDL (good cholesterol) levels. You can boost HDL by eating more fat in your diet. Something you’ll have been avoiding if you’re on a calorie controlled diet.
- High blood pressure (or you’re taking meds for this condition.) This can damage your heart if untreated for long periods of time.
- High fasting blood sugar. Basically you’re on the verge of type 2 diabetes.
Following a diet low in carbohydrates, high in fat and high in protein is the solution to long term health, weight maintenance and longevity. If you suffer with any of the above symptoms you can reverse them all by eating a balance diet that includes fat. If you’re sedentary, being more physically active is a good place to start.
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