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The calorie myth_ the-scale-x900x500

The Calorie Myth: You’re overweight because you’re eating too many calories.


Sure, many folks struggle to eat healthy balanced meals. Partly, the US obesity epidemic is due to limited access to nutrient dense produce, and excessive access to calorie dense, nutrient depleted convenience food. In fact, most researchers have concluded that people tend to underestimate their calories and serving sizes, which can contribute to excessive calorie consumption. This is especially true when folks consume processed foods instead of fresh fruits and veggies.

Shoot I’ve been there- counting every calorie (or points for those on Weight Watchers), working out diligently and yet still hitting a brick wall.

Well what if I told you that your’re actually not eating enough!

So what is the calorie myth? The calorie myth we’ve been fed for generations is that quantity only, not quality, matter. In other words, we’ve been focusing too much on the numbers on the food label, and not enough on the colorful variety and nutrients that make up our meals.

Many of us are still eating too many processed foods: “fiber” cereals, protein bars, frozen meals, pretzels, cold cuts on ”low carb” bread, low-fat cheese and yogurt. Calorically they may be modest, but they’re usually filled with artificial ingredients, processed beyond recognition, and monochromatic.

Breaking the Calorie Myth: Eat real food, focus on good fats.

As part of the calorie myth, for years we’ve been told to avoid fat because it’s evil. We’ve filled our plates with high-glycemic breads and pastas and relatively low-nutrient starchy veggies like potatoes and peas. A few things happen when we eat this way:

  1. Eating naturally occurring, full-fat foods and high-fiber and hydrating whole veggies also leads to more satiety (feeling full and satisfied throughout the day). This means less snacking between meals, better blood sugar and insulin control, and less inflammation.
  2. As a result of calorie restriction, we lean towards low-fat foods and rely heavily on carbs and protein (remember from freshman health class, fat contains 9 calories, vs protein and carbs which are 4 calories per gram). The problem with eating this way? You raise blood levels of the hormone insulin, which signals the body to make more fat. This puts us in a constant anabolic state, making virtually impossible to lose fat.
  3. You end up reaching for more processed food instead of real, whole foods like veggies. In a lot of my clients, I’ve noticed that they’re so used to relying on bars, cereal and supplements, they actually forget how to eat real food. We spend our time getting back into the habit of preparing fresh foods and making new breakfast/lunch/dinner habits. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, the best food is simple and accessible.

So, you want to lose weight?

I’m not saying there’s no need for calorie counting when you’re trying to lose weight. Sometimes it’s great to touch base and see where you are, especially when you dig a little deeper and see how you’re balancing fat, protein and carbohydrates. But you do not want to be a slave to calorie counting!

Once you get into a groove, and you’re feeling good, usually you can switch to just keeping a food journal or periodically checking in to see if you’re on track. You’ll probably come to find that when you eat high quality, well-balanced, real food, you begin to naturally reach for foods that keep you in balance. Our body’s are amazing like that.

When you eat high quality, well-balanced, real food, you begin to naturally reach for foods… Click To Tweet

Looking to avoid calorie counting? Here are nine habits (that happen to help with weight loss) that have nothing to do with calorie counting:

  • Eat fresh veggies and fruits whenever possible- this should be the main component of your diet and part of every meal.
  • Eat whole eggs (not egg whites)- look for organic, free range and chickens that were fed flax which increases the Omega 3 fats in the egg yolk (dark yellow or orange yolks).
  • If you eat dairy, and dairy agrees with you, avoid the fat-free/low-fat versions. Go for full-fat, organic and grass-fed. Look for the rBGH-free (hormone-free) on the label.
  • Don’t overindulge in protein, either. Excessive protein can also spike insulin. Keep the serving size to 4-6 oz (about a palm-size serving of animal meat), and only eat hormone and antibiotic free sources. Yes it makes a difference for weight-loss.
  • Eat more fish, wild caught not farm raised. Small cold water fish like sardines, herring, and mackerel naturally have less toxins.
  • Eat even more veggies- you probably aren’t eating enough to begin with. Aim for 6-8 servings a day, ideally of the non-starchy, leafy kind. And make it colorful!
  • Minimize processed grain products (breads, pastas etc…) and opt instead for whole grains like brown rice, steel-cut oats, and quinoa. You may even consider going grain-free for a while.
  • Drink more water and stop drinking soda, ice tea, energy drinks or  “diet” anything. Consider changing up your coffee routine if you find you’re using coffee as a vehicle for sugar.
  • Reduce or eliminate processed food and sugar. As Michael Pollen, author of Omnivor’s Delima and In Defense of Food says, “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.”
Looking to loss weight? Quality matters: “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a… Click To Tweet

Still feel like you need a little more support?

Consider joining the next Transform8 Weight Loss program – Kicking off in February, 2017
The program is geared for anyone struggling to lose weight, trying to balance their hormones, or manage cravings. As a bonus, we’ll also do a 7 day whole-food detox to jump start results. But hurry, because spots are limited!

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