Most diets focus on restricting calories partly by cutting back on the amount of food eaten. But calorie restriction doesn’t work in and of itself; losing weight is not just about eating less. In fact, if you eat too little, you set off a chain of chemical imbalances in your hormones and brain that actually cause you to gain weight.
Yes, calories are important. But it is not the number of calories you consume as much as it is the type of calories that makes all the difference between how much weight you lose and how healthy you are.
You can actually have an identical amount of calories from sugary foods (cupcake) and lean proteins (turkey breast), but the metabolic effect will be entirely different. The nutrients in sugary foods are different from the nutrients in lean proteins, and so they cause a different hormonal response, which plays a key role in determining what happens to those calories, such as how much of them end up being stored as fat in the body. This is why calorie counting simply does not work for weight loss.
The commonly stated logic is that if you eat the same number of calories you burn, you will stay the same weight. If you eat less than you burn, you will lose weight; if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. This seems to make sense, but it does not tell the whole story. As an example, let’s look at the difference between 1,000 calories of lima beans versus 1,000 calories of a low-fat cinnamon raisin bagel. As far as calories go, they are both 1,000 calories. But because each item has a different amount of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber, the nutrients are absorbed into the body at different rates, sending different metabolic signals that ultimately control your weight. The carbs (sugar) from the lima beans enters your bloodstream very slowly, but the carbs from the low-fat cinnamon raisin bagel enter your bloodstream very rapidly. The calories from the lima beans will be absorbed over time and thus used over a longer period of time for energy. However, the calories from the cinnamon raisin bagel go into your bloodstream all at once, and any calories that can’t be used right away for energy will get stored as fat. This mean the low-fat cinnamon raisin bagel causes more fat storage in the body, even though it has the same number of calories as the lima beans. Here’s the general rule of thumb: foods whose calories enter your bloodstream quickly promote weight gain, whereas foods whose calories enter your bloodstream slowly promote weight loss. So, you can see why calorie-counting alone is not effective for managing weight loss.
In my 3-part system outlined in my new book, Lose Weight Without Dieting or Working Out!, we are not going to be counting calories. I never count calories. For generations, people stayed slim and healthy without ever counting calories. Decades ago, people weren’t focused on counting calories to stay slim, and obesity wasn’t a widespread issue like it is today. Part of that reason is that they didn’t eat all the processed foods and low-fat, low-calorie “diet” foods that we do today. So many people have messed up their metabolism by focusing on reducing calories that they ended up not getting the proper nutrition they needed to feed their body to stay slim and healthy. You can lose weight on 2,000 calories per day of clean, nutrient-rich foods and gain weight on 1,500 calories per day of junk food.
If you are used to counting calories and have had success with that method to help control your weight, then by all means continue counting calories. However, if you do not have success with counting calories, you’ll want to focus on what you’re eating, the type of foods you’re eating, and how they affect your weight loss.
JJ Smith (www.JJSmithOnline.com) is a nutritionist and certified weight-management specialist who has been featured on The Montel Williams Show, The Jamie Foxx Show and on the NBC, FOX, CBS and CW networks. Her advice has also been featured in the pages of Glamour, Essence, and Ladies Home Journal. Since reclaiming her health, losing weight, and discovering a “second youth” in her forties, bestselling author JJ Smith has become the voice of inspiration to women who want to lose weight, be healthy, and get their sexy back! JJ may be contacted by email at [email protected] and on Twitter: jjsmithonline and Facebook Page: RealTalkJJ