Counting Calories or Counting Nutrients?

By: Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

In Stacy Kennedy’s Reboot post she discusses ‘All calories are not created equal’. Stacy covers why calories are not important rather the foods we choose to eat are more important than the calorie or energy content.

While we are doing our best to bring your more nutritional information to our recipes, we want to assure you that you do not need to count calories while completing a Reboot and we want to redirect your attention onto the wonderful nutrients that are present in a rainbow colored plant-based diet.

Calorie measurements were first discovered by scientist Wilbur Atwater, who noticed that if you put food in a bomb calorimeter and burn it, you could measure the ash and heat to find out how much energy was released and how much energy was in the food.

Many experts and information blogs are now urging people NOT to count calories.  Even the weight loss giant, Weight Watchers, has admitted that counting calories is unhelpful and may encourage people away from healthy eating. When counting calories, an apple may be equal to a biscuit! It is crucial to look at your over all diet rather than worrying about how many calories you are consuming.

Reasons to base your food choices on HEALTH rather than calorie content:

1).   Calorie counting doesn’t include the quality of the food you are eating. It does not distinguish between an unprocessed natural food, and what composition and type of fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamin, minerals, anti-oxidants and phyto-compounds it contains.

2).   Calorie counting can encourage the avoidance of naturally high calorie foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados which may be harmful to your health. These foods contain important fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins that support a healthy metabolism and a healthy weight.

3).   Food produces hormonal changes in the body — some hormones signal to the body to store fat, some signal to release sugar and others to build muscle. Studies show that diets based on the same amount of calories, but different proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrates, result in different amounts of weight loss.

4).   Some foods use more calories to digest than others, so this can also alter the effects of calorie counting to a moderate degree. Eating foods that are in their natural state and are unrefined will take more energy to breakdown and digest, therefore keeping your blood sugar levels more stable and will require a slight increase in energy demands.

5).   A recent study indicated that almonds have less bio-available calories (20% less) than originally thought due to their complex natural structure. With this discovery it makes you wonder how many more natural foods could actually contain less bio-available calorie energy content! It is also said that high-fiber vegetables may have been estimated too high.

6).   Cooking can increase the bioavailability of the stored energy.  The longer sweet potatoes are cooked, the more easily the calories are digested. How ripe a fruit or vegetable is can also impact the available energy; a banana that is very ripe will provide more calories than a less ripe banana.

7).   Frequent intense hunger can be an indication that you’re consuming the wrong types of food rather than the amount of calories you are eating. When you change your diet and consume the right types of foods such as healthy, unprocessed wholefoods you will experience more energy, improved concentration, reduced food cravings and you will feel more content and satisfied after your meal for several hours.

8).   Nutrients and energy from natural wholefoods are more likely to be used for basic bodily functions as opposed to processed foods that will be used as an energy source only thus contributing to unwanted weight. That portion of fries that may have 300 calories will contribute to disease, poor metabolic function, inflammation, poor liver and digestive function, while a 300 calorie large fruit and vegetable juice will contribute to repair and healing of the liver cells, an energy boost, protect your brain cells replenish your immune system and a boost your metabolism.

9).   Calorie equivalent processed foods will contribute to fat storing, poor hormonal health and liver function, this will negatively impact your metabolic function and how well you store and burn energy. These foods digest and deliver energy too quickly which does not provide sustained energy and will contribute to fatigue, which will increase the desire to eat and drink more high-energy foods and beverages.

10).  Calorie demands change during periods of stress, anxiety, physical activity, hormones and normal growth and repair.

The Reboot plan is about resetting your cravings, gauging your true satisfaction and allowing your body to be filled and satisfied with plant micronutrients. An improved healthy eating program will reset these natural gauges leaving you feeling content and comfortable.

By sticking to our basic general guidelines and portion suggestions you will lose the weight, regain your health while not counting any calories (phew)!

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Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

Claire Georgiou is an Australian Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist who has completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Compl. Medicine) and an Advanced Diploma of Nutrition, Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine. She has more than 14 years of clinical experience specializing in liver disease, autoimmune disease, thyroid conditions, diabetes, insulin resistance, digestive disorders, chronic infections, children’s health, fertility and pregnancy care. Claire consults in private practice in Sydney and also offers consults out of area and is an accredited member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. Claire has worked closely for many years with Dr. Sandra Cabot, who is known as the “Liver Cleansing Doctor” and has written more than 25 health related books. Claire writes health related articles, creates healthy recipes and is one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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