In my opinion, the BIGGEST nutrition myth of all time is that ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL.
We have been made to believe that eating less will lead to weight loss and more optimal health.
Well, how is that working for you?
When it comes to how you fuel your body, the quality of food is very important. When you fuel your body with quality food, the quantity tends to naturally take care of itself.
Why Counting Calories Doesn’t Work
Calorie counting doesn’t work because different types of calories work differently inside your body.
Lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats send different signals to your body than do sugar, trans fats, and processed foods. In his book Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes talks about the 20 calories per day theory. If you overeat by just 20 calories per day starting at age 25 you would gain 21 pounds in a decade. If you rely on counting calories, you would need to have a .8% accuracy and let’s face it, no one can do that!
It’s not counting calories that controls your metabolism, but rather your hormones.
Counting calories is based on the assumption that the human body works like a balance scale where it’s all about managing calories IN vs. calories OUT. It’s just not that simple!
A better approach is to eat foods that keep us satisfied, do not spike blood sugar, provide the body with nutrients, and cannot be easily converted to body fat. In his book, The Calorie Myth, Jonathan Bailor refers to this as eating SANE calories. SANE is an acronym for Satiety, Aggression, Nutrition, Efficiency. SANE calories heal your hormones, prevent overeating, and lower your setpoint (the weight your body easily maintains).
Satiety is the capacity of calories to make and keep you full.
Have you ever noticed how you can easily eat a plate full of pasta? Imagine trying to do that with a plate of broccoli… You’d have to force feed yourself and you’d wind up uncomfortably STUFFED!
To increase satiation, focus on foods that contain high amounts of water, fiber, and protein.
When a food contains more water and fiber you generally end up with a bigger food that provides more stretch. In turn, you end up getting and staying fuller longer. Vegetables provide both fiber and water, and they are very satiating. BUT, protein also matters. Harvard researchers have found that the amount of protein in food affects the signals to our brain that tell us if we are hungry or full. It also affects our short and long-term satiety hormones. When more calories are coming from protein, more “full” hormonal signals are sent to the brain.
When you eat food that provides more satiety you get too full for low-quality food.
The more aggressive a calorie is, the faster it will increase the level of glucose in your bloodstream. In turn, the hormones that affect fat storage are negatively impacted.
When blood sugar spikes in the body, insulin (fat storage hormone) rushes in to clear it from the bloodstream. However, insulin is not ON or OFF in our body. Instead, it is secreted in either a trickle, stream, or flood depending on what we eat. If the pancreas has to secrete lots of insulin over time it can overwork the system leading to cells becoming insulin resistant, potentially leading to Type II Diabetes.
Eat foods that are high in water, fiber, and protein to control insulin response in your body. You will then lower your risk for chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, & stroke) and will store less body fat. Body fat storage is generally NOT caused by eating too much food (calories). Body fat storage will occur when you eat food that causes you to have more glucose in your bloodstream than you need for your activity level.
Your body needs nutrients from food to carry out basic functions, metabolic processes, and to be healthy. The amount and quality of nutrition affects your metabolism and whether or not your body is burning or storing fat and building or burning muscle. Many overweight and obese individuals are actually undernourished versus over nourished.
When you eat low-quality inSANE foods your body will continue to call for nourishment (more food) regardless of whether or not you met your daily caloric need. You continue to have food cravings and wind up overeating because your body is looking for the nutrition that it still requires.
Foods that provide many nutrients per calorie are non-starchy vegetables, seafood, high-quality meats, low-fructose fruits, and nut/seeds. Foods that provide very few nutrients per calorie are starches and sweets.
A food’s nutrient profile largely depends on water, fiber, and protein. When you eat more water, fiber, and protein-packed food you get more essential nutrients and will avoid overeating or overwhelming your body with excess glucose. By consuming foods that pack a lot of nutrition your body will receive all of the nutrients that it needs and it will automatically regulate your appetite (and weight) without a struggle.
Efficiency has to do with how efficiently you convert calories into body fat. The more inefficient calories are at being stored as body fat the better. Fiber and protein are entirely inefficient. Fiber is not digested by the body and therefore can never be stored as body fat. Protein is five calorie-burning steps away from body fat. It takes five to ten times more energy to digest proteins than it does to digest fats or carbohydrates. That means you actually burn several calories in the process of protein digestion! Calories that come from starch, on the other hand, are more than twice as efficient at becoming body fat than calories from protein.
The Benefits of SANE Eating
When you eat high-quality foods you avoid overeating due to high Satiety. Calories are released into your bloodstream slowly and trigger a small insulin release thanks to low Aggression. Your body benefits from a number of essential nutrients from high-quality Nutrition. You burn a lot of calories during digestion thanks to low-Efficiency.
In Health & Happiness,