I’ve recently been reading David Gillespie’s book – Big Fat Lies. It’s certainly a book I’m happy to recommend. It make’s some interesting points on counting calories, weight loss and the general public perception of it all (points that I happen to agree with I may add). This got me thinking as I have never counted a calorie in my life, and I have no problem with my weight or health.
So after walking through Sydney Central Station tunnel to meet my friend with David Gillespie’s book in hand, I was blown away by how many people had some form of diet soda in their hands. I’m quietly thinking to myself: are they drinking it because they think it’s healthy? Seeing my friend make the switch to diet sodas because they are ‘zero’ calorie (learn more about the switch here), got me thinking it’s very possible that they do.
It was good to see my friend had stopped the diet sodas after my last blog post. As he sat there drinking his herbal tea he started picking my brains about calorie consumption. The serendipity of me thinking about counting calories and my mate quizzing me was to coincidental.
After his ‘diet’ soda incident and aspartame he began to realise not all was as it seemed in the world of weight loss and calories. Hence this blog post.
The myth of counting weight loss calories
The first thing I wanted to get straight in my friends mind was this. If you use the word ‘diet’, DO NOT think of it in terms of restriction. I know too many people who seem to be on some kind of ‘diet’ consistently, and their body shape never changes!
If you are on a ‘diet’, it will feel like somebody has gone and strapped a two foot chain around your ankle with a dirty 10kg cheeseburger on the end of it! The more you run the more it will follow you and weigh you down until you scoff the lot!
I then went on to explain to my friend:
a) You must think of the word ‘diet’ as in terms of I eat these foods in my daily ‘diet’ etc… Make sense?
b) Then think of your body as a car. Are you driving a high performance sports car that you throw around at high speed constantly, or are you commuting in a Citroen that barely gets above 40kmh and is parked in the garage for most of the day? The more demands you put on it, the more fuel it will require.
c) Are you putting in high quality fuel to get you through the day, or are you filling your tank with cheap and nasty stuff? Will your car be blowing smoke or purring smoothly? If your car is coughing and spluttering and struggling to get around, it’s only a matter of time before it’s going to need a service! Regardless of how much fuel we need, the better the fuel, the better it runs.
So lets get real here. Are you looking to be a competative bodybuilder or swimsuit model? Or are you like 99% of the population and just want to shake the love handles and stay lean and healthy?
It was the latter, so is calorie counting really necessary?
So why weight loss and calorie counting?
Think about this for a moment. In the US, 45% of women and 30% of men admit they’re trying to lose weight and are on some kind of ‘diet’ (in the hamburger & chain kinda sense). It is then estimated that 35% of men & women are on a’ diet’ to maintain their weight. That’s 4 in 5 people are on some kind of weight loss plan! (do you fall into this number?) That is one massive industry for diet!! So think about the marketing machine behind that one for a second!
I asked my friend if he was starting to see a bigger picture here. He was.
First of all, what’s a calorie?
We can certainly say a calorie is a household name! It is also food energy that is measured in, yep… calories.
Here’s the basic theory for weight loss calories
Put it simply, you will use a certain amount of energy (calories) to get you through your day. How much? That will depend on the car you drive and how hard you race it.
What the weight loss calorie industry is telling you is this. If you eat more energy than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat less than you burn, you will lose weight. Technically, what they are saying is if you stay in calorie restriction you will eventually waste away and disappear. Have you seen this happen? Thought not.
Have you heard the of term empty calories?
An empty calories is simply a set amount of food measured in calories that has no nutritional value. For example, if we had a 100 calories of a chocolate bar and 100 calories worth of broccoli, which one do you think you are better off eating?
What the diet industry does is market products low in calories, so you automatically assoicate it with weight loss. What it doesn’t say is if those calories consist of sugar, preservatives, flavourings and chemicals etc. Believe me, if you are struggling with you weight and/or have little energy through your day, I can assure you these empty calories contain nothing that serves the body. They will actually do the exact opposite. They will be contributing to your weight and lack of energy in a big way!
Put yourself in the companies shoes for a moment:
– 1g of carbohydrate is 4 calories
– 1g of fat is 9 calories
Hence fat has more calories. This is no good to a company that touts weight loss calorie counting. So they come up with the great idea of removing the fat and replacing it with sugar/carbs and voila! You have now halved the calories and have a fat free low calorie meal. You may as well eat the packaging while you are at it, because it will probably be as nutritional!
As far as I’m concerned, there is no concern for health here. Just regurgitated marketing with maximum profit in mind. Whatever happened to win/win?
Wouldn’t you rather eat a calorie that is packed full of nutrients that your body would really appreciate?
So how many calories for weight loss?
I grabbed a pen and paper then asked my friend to imagine that we could see a calorie for a moment. Then I drew these two circles:-
Which kind of calories do you eat mainly?
As you can see, if you had a choice of a calorie to eat, which one would you choose? If you are on a calorie restricted diet, short term you may lose weight, but long term you will not be doing your body any favours. The likely hood is that the weight you’re losing is not fat but muscle. That is no use to anyone.
The problem we are faced with now in todays modern society is this: Most people are starving themselves in an overabundance of food.
We eat plenty of food daily, but if we are not getting the nutrients, this will actually starve the body over time and compromise health. Ever wondered why you are still hungry after you’ve eaten?
I then went on to draw these very simple graphs. I explained to my friend that many people eat food that I call fillers. They feed the appetite but not the body.
Graph 1/ Lots of volume but little nutrients
I then went on to explain that if you are to eat nutrient rich food daily, you will generally eat less food anyway, as the body has been fed correctly and is not craving the nutrients it lacks.
Graph 2/ Lots of nutrients but less volume
Don’t count calories, make it count what goes in your mouth!
I’ve meet so many people that struggle with their weight/health it’s not funny. As humans we generally wait until we are almost at breaking point and only then do we decide to do something about it. Then of course we want instant results which usually lead to frustration and failure.
Think long term lifestyle! I know it sounds a little cliche but it’s the way to overall happiness and success. Counting calories for weight loss/health does not work long term. This will just add to the frustration. So don’t ask yourself how many calories for weight loss. Simply ask yourself is the food you’re putting your mouth of quality.
Note: If you are on a low calorie weight loss shake of some type, check the ingredients. Do you recognise them? If not, seriously question the product. Better still pick up the phone or email a naturopath &/or nutritionist and ask their opinion. Check out the facts first and get a professional opinion. If anyone asks me about our 180 Superfood, I’ll always encourage this first.
The key is to simply start to eliminate processed foods, sugars etc and increase your natural fat intake with every meal (I’ll be blogging more on all this). Eat as close to the source as possible as often as you can. If you combine this with a sound exercise plan you are on to a winning strategy.
180 Nutrition’s success has been based on providing a healthy all natural alternative when short on time. Simply replacing a processed breakfast with 180 Superfood in the morning would make the world of difference.
Good health needn’t be a struggle, just simply doing the basics well. If you are on a weight loss plan, remember this when reaching out for the preservative/sugar packed low calorie meal: Don’t count calories, make it count what goes in your mouth!