Don’t count calories, eat food that counts!

UnknownMost all diets are based on reducing calories.  Some diets require a certain calorie level.  Restriction, usually in calories as well as foods enjoyed by the individual, may result in some weight lost, but the ability to sustain the diet is not feasible.  A cycle of yo-yo-dieting begins in the search to find a “diet” that will provide the weight loss and “body” individuals are seeking.  There are two problems here.  First, focusing on weight loss or the “perfect body” is outcome based.  When outcome is the focus, how one gets there usually is not, resulting in unhealthy, sometimes dangerous methods.  For most, outcome focused “dieting” is not sustainable or an enjoyable process and leads to regaining pounds, plus some, when the individual reverts back to regular habits.  Second, greatly reducing your caloric intake is problematic for a number of reasons.  If calories are too low, you will not be able to consume adequate amounts of necessary nutrients.  In addition, not only do most diets require a reduction in calories, but usually encourage the elimination of one or more whole food groups.  Eliminating whole food groups means eliminating necessary and important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, etc).

Well known metabolic researcher, David C. Nieman, has found the resting metabolic rate (RMR) on average for females is ~1200-1400 calories/day and ~1500-1800 calories/day for males.  What does this mean?  This is the amount of calories required by your body just to sustain the functions of your body while at rest.  This does not include any daily activity or physical exercise.  Therefore, it is no surprise that individuals find it challenging to try to “diet” on 1500 calories or less a day.  At this level, you may not even be providing your body with the minimum amount of calories it needs.

What if you did not have to reduce your calories at all, but simply change the type of foods you were eating to experience some weight loss (an greatly improve your health)?  While we have known for a long time how important it is to provide our bodymix of foods with nutrient dense whole foods, new research out this week examines other countries diets’ compared to the American diet and shows quantitatively what could happen if just the makeup of an individual’s diet was changed without reducing calories.  For example, they found that if you simply changed your diet to a mediterranean diet with no change in typical caloric intake, your BMI (body mass index – a simple ratio of your weight over your height) would be reduced by about 2.5 points.  If you adjusted your diet composition to mirror that country as well as followed the average amount of calories that country consumes, you would experience a greater reduction (up to 3 point reduction in BMI based on a Japanese diet).

How is it possible that you could reduce your weight just by changing the foods you eat without reducing calories?  Not all calories are created equal.  Our bodies prefer whole, unprocessed foods which provide a variety of naturally occurring nutrients.  Most other countries rely on and consume a higher amount of plant-based whole foods.  While the American diet is composed of highly processed and refined foods.  The most recent report shows the top 5 sources of calories for adults are: grain-based desserts (cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, sweet rolls, etc), yeast breads, chicken/chicken dishes, sodas/energy drinks/sports drinks, alcoholic beverages).  It has also been reported that eating in restaurants contributes on average about 20% of overall calories.  bowl of veggies

Are you ready to make a change?  Evaluate what you have in your fridge and cupboards.  Make a plan for how you can eliminate those highly processed, empty calorie foods and begin replacing them with less processed, whole food options.

This new research supports the approach of Wellness Associates of focusing on the composition of the diet, rather than calories.  if you want to tweak your diet or begin to use more whole foods give us a call and let us guide your journey toward a more healthful diet.

Kristine Clark

Wellness Associates

References:
1. The Cost Savings of Changes to Healthier Diets in the U.S. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu//handle/205608

2. How Americans can lose a lot of weight without giving up a single calorie.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/07/27/how-americans-can-lose-a-lot-of-weight-without-giving-up-a-single-calorie/

3. Disturbing chart shows the 25 foods that make up most of the calories Americans eat. http://www.businessinsider.com/foods-that-make-up-most-of-the-calories-american-consume-2015-2

4. Your Metabolism: Facts and Fables. http://ncrc.appstate.edu/sites/ncrc.appstate.edu/files/Nieman-Your%20Metabolism-NCRC.pdf

5. Eat More, Weight Less. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/energy_density.html

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