By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Here at Reboot we discourage placing importance on calorie counting when losing weight and improving your health for many reasons!
The theory of calorie-in versus calorie-out is very flawed and simplistic and doesn’t account for liver function, thyroid function, blood sugar control, hormone balance, metabolic function, macro and micro nutrient effects, muscle strength and repair and tissue regeneration and a range of other important biochemical processes that will affect your weight control. When you are enjoying a natural wholefood diet with a complex array of nutrients all these important metabolic functions are supported.
For these reasons listed below calorie counting does not support long term weight loss while supporting a wholefood natural eating plan does!
Specifically focusing on counting calories does NOT focus on the quality of the food, the nutrition or the phyto-nutrient and anti-oxidant content. A packet of chips or a donut can have less calories than an avocado or a serve of baked sweet potato or even a smoothie or a fresh juice. Counting calories does NOT distinguish between good quality wholefood versus processed empty calorie food.
When you consume high quality wholefoods you are consuming a vast array of micro-nutrients which supports a healthy metabolism, hormonal balance, fat burning, liver and thyroid function and better mood control which reduces the risks of over eating, fluid retention, visceral fat, a fatty liver and poor blood sugar control.
When people focus on calories rather than healthy eating they may not ingest adequate nutrients which can then sabotage a healthy metabolism therefore contributing to weight and health problems now and in the future. When people place a high importance on counting calories above food quality they will unfortunately be missing the point and therefore missing the result. Counting calories can give you quick results in the short-term but it has no benefit in the long-term for your health or your weight control.
Wholefood macro and micro-nutrients are required for many important metabolic functions in the body above and beyond energy so calories in natural food might in-fact be used for tissue strength and regeneration and metabolic health while calories from processed foods will ONLY be used for energy but offers no other benefit. So for example, that piece of wild fish or handful of nuts will support tissue regeneration, immune system support and healthy hormonal production while that donut will stress the liver, supply no supporting nutrients and increase your blood sugar which will then stimulate a surge of insulin without supporting hormones that signal satiety. The surge of insulin will then store the unused energy as fat thus causing your blood sugar to plummet and then presto you are hungry again!
Some low calorie fat free food can actually be high in additives and sugar to give it some type of flavour which in-turn will drive people to eat more, these foods can be addictive and will also affect your mood and energy which will also contribute to your desire to eat more.
Natural wholefood with a more complex nutritional panel that may contain more calories will satisfy you for longer therefore avoiding over eating later in the day.
Studies have shown that complex wholefoods which may have a higher calorie content will naturally help decrease your overall eating as they encourage you to be more tuned into your natural eating and hunger cues, while low calorie processed foods will sabotage your natural hunger cues.
Counting calories doesn’t encourage you to focus on the problem itself. Often people over eat because they have nutrient deficiencies, they are eating emotionally, they are not eating the right types of foods, they have hormonal imbalances, poor thyroid function, they are not listening to their internal cues for when they have had enough, they are eating mindlessly and for many more reasons. Counting calories does not address any of these problems while eating healthily does!
When you eat the right foods, you are more likely to not overeat. And when your hormones and metabolism are functioning optimally, you can sustain a healthy weight loss without hunger as your body makes use of stored fat for fuel.
Often during the Reboot process some Rebooters experience weight loss plateau’s which can be due to lack of juice and calories and we will let them know it is important to drink all the juice recommended or at least drink the minimum suggested for weight control as the increase in juice means MORE NUTRIENTS and this means better metabolic function!!!
So forget the calories and concentrate on the wholefood and ALL its natural goodness! Here are some other great articles on calorie counting that we have posted in the past!