Rather than count calories, eat a variety of whole foods

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The struggle to lose weight, gain weight, or even maintain a healthy one can be a frustrating journey indeed. Prevailing knowledge leads us to believe that weight loss is merely an equation of thermodynamics — you know the adage. “Energy in equals energy out.”

Using the standard that 3,500 calories equals 1 pound, a daily excess or deficit of 500 calories will result in a weekly gain or loss of 1 pound of body weight. It sounds simple enough, but putting it into practice is something else entirely.

whole fruit scale

photo source: sparkpeople.com

Have you ever tried to keep a food log? From determining the correct portion size and its corresponding caloric value, to tracking all the data you gather, the process is quite cumbersome. Even with the help of various gadgets available to help you do these things, such as calorie-tracking apps and body-monitoring devices, results do not always seem to follow the math.

Compelling evidence suggests not all calories are created equal

The caloric value of the food we eat is determined by what are known as the Atwater system, which is a system of equations developed in the late 19th century. Needless to say, these factors are quite dated and several recent studies have implicated the inaccuracy of this method.

For example, one study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found the caloric value for a serving of almonds was 20 percent lower than previously determined by the Atwater method. If the older method was inaccurate here, how many other inaccuracies exist? Truly, there is no easy answer to this problem.

Metabolism and weight control involve complex interactions with your unique physiology and the differing combinations of nutrients you take in. The combination and types of food you take in are the keys to managing your weight.

Eat a colorful variety of whole foods

Instead of putting your efforts into calorie-counting, direct your efforts toward eat a variety of whole foods. Follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) guidelines and eat a diet high in fiber and vegetables varied in color and texture. Control hunger cravings and snack on nuts, as they are a good source of unsaturated fats, fiber and other nutrients.

In addition, choose foods that require a lot of chewing, and be sure to chew it (or better yet, blend it) well. This unlocks more nutrients within the food and increases the amount of satiety-signaling hormones your body releases.

Avoid processed foods

Finally, avoid all processed foods, which are absorbed quickly by the body and often have less nutritious value than their whole food counterparts. This leads both to overeating and increased fat stores that your body will pack away.

Remember, the extra weight gained over the years took exactly that: years. Fortunately, losing it does not need to
 take that long. Be gentle with yourself, stay steadfast and persevere through this adversity. Eventually your habits will change and your body will follow suit.

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