I have worked with thousands of women who have spent years and years counting every single calorie they consumed and were still not achieving the results they were looking for. Why? Counting calories doesn’t always work.
We need to understand that consuming food is not about eating whatever we want purely to make up our required calorie intake. Food, when part of good nutrition, serves a far greater purpose of providing us with macronutrients for great health and energy.
So many of us have, and still do, religiously count calories, follow points systems or veer towards low-fat products when lapping the supermarket. If you want to know why counting calories could be harming you instead of helping you reach your goals, here’s why I tell my 28ers to consider more than just calories.
1. Not all calories are created equal
100 calories worth of lollies is not the same as 100 calories worth of fruit.
It is true that there are more calories in fat than carbohydrates, including sugar. But if we follow that logic, a can of Coke can then be considered better for you than a handful of almonds or some avocado. Hmm.. I don’t think so! You need to be looking at the metabolic effect of where you are getting your calories from and the effect these foods have on your body. Different foods and macronutrients can have a huge effect on your hormones and the signals your brain sends to control your hunger. Opt for whole foods where possible as they are full of nutrients that fuel your body and will have you feeling your best. Wholefoods are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and this includes fruit & veg, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains.
2. The thermic effect of food
I promise this isn’t as complex as it sounds. The thermic effect of food refers to the amount of energy required to break down the macronutrients in what you’ve eaten. For example: your body burns more calories digesting protein and fibre filled veggies than it does digesting processed foods like white bread or refined sugar cereals., Protein has the highest thermic effect. What this means is that it is the least likely to be converted to excess body fat.
3. Some foods make you hungry, some foods keep you full.
You can drink a can of Pepsi but do you feel full? I personally like to eat meals that keep me full and stop me from getting hangry or needing to snack every hour. Satiety is that feeling we have after a meal, when we are full and satisfied without craving more and more food. Certain foods contribute to this feeling of fullness. Foods that are high volume, that are high in protein and are high fibre are great for keeping us feeling fuller, longer.
I strongly believe that food is to be enjoyed and shared (sometimes!) but not counted. Instead of focusing on adding up the numbers in the food you eat, you need to think about what it is doing for and to your body. It's about the nutritional value of the food, not just how many calories are in it.'
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire.
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