You’ve heard it a million times. In order to lose weight, all you need to remember is that calories in should be less than calories out. In other words, eat less, move more.
Do you really believe your body is a simple account ledger with income on one side and expenses on the other? You–and your body–are more sophisticated than that, darling. Read on.
Why “calories in vs. calories out” doesn’t work
1. Don’t believe the calorie counts you read. While you can look up the calorie counts of most foods you eat, once you eat them, those numbers mean very little. Things like how the food was cooked, the makeup of its macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrate), its fiber content, and how well it was digested, greatly affect how many calories you actually consumed.
2. Your body wants energy, not calories. Your body doesn’t care about how many calories your kale salad has–or your plate of french fries. What your body cares about is energy. Different types of energy (referring to macronutrients again) drive different hormonal responses. And it’s those hormonal responses that are going to make the difference between your body using your food as fuel to feel vibrant and energetic–or storing it as fat. Which leads us to the next one…
3. Food is information, not numbers. Your body works to break down your food into energy that it can use or store for later. This is helped by your hormones, such as insulin. Beyond that, the food you eat actually changes the expression of your DNA. This is the study of epigenetics. So while there’s the same amount of calories in a a plate of butter-basted salmon with roasted broccoli and a half-cup of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream, the first boosts your vitality immediately and in the long run. The latter just tastes good for the moment.
4. Instead of “calories in vs. calories out,” think “quality over quantity.” Keeping #3 in mind, an occasional ice cream isn’t going to kill you. But when you’re thinking about what to eat, know that the quality of the food itself–its nutrient-richness, whether its free of toxins or not, how much processing its gone through–determines how much energy you’ll derive from it. If you want tortilla chips, skip the Doritos and find a brand that uses organic corn masa, a quality frying oil (avocado or even lard), and salt. Make your own guacamole and not only will you enjoy something absolutely delicious, it leads to actually eating less over time. Your body isn’t starving for nutrients any more. Instead, you’ll be creating dynamic health.
Marci Bowman, Wellness Mentor | Personal Trainer | Creator of The Wonderfulness Program