- Hannah Aylward
Nutrient Rich for the Win
Why You Should Stop Counting Calories
By Hannah Aylward
The theory of calorie counting for weight loss is one of the biggest health myths of all time. Yes, it is true that reducing your caloric intake can lead to weight loss initially for some. However, this typically doesn’t last long and cannot be maintained. Calories do matter. Too much healthy food can still be unhealthy and can be taxing on the digestive system. It is the quality of the calories that you are eating that really makes a difference.
Living at a healthy and balanced weight does not come down to reaching a caloric deficit. And here's why...
Our bodies are incredibly intricate systems. Without us even thinking twice, our hearts beat, our lungs take in air, our blood flows, and our livers detox. The body is truly incredible. Take a moment to have gratitude for this.
Our bodies are also not controlled experiments. We are all at different stages of life and experiencing different things. So how could 100 calories of food affect all of us the same way? One hundred calories of fat, protein, and carbohydrates are the same in a thermodynamic sense; however, how the body is affected by calories from each of these macronutrients largely varies. Calories overlook the fact that each macronutrient is metabolized and used differently in the body. Not to mention, each macronutrient will create a different hormonal and chemical reaction in the body.
For example, take 100 calories of spinach versus100 calories of cookies. I know it sounds silly, but hear me out! The spinach is going to make you feel satiatedbecause 100 calories of spinach is a lot of spinach.Blood sugar levels are barely going to spikedue to the very low carbohydrate and sugar content in spinach and the high fiber content. Also, your body will be pumped with nutrients like vitamin K and magnesium. The spinach is going to support a healthy gut, which will benefit you in the long termand amp up your energy levels. It’s a win-win.
Now let’s look at the cookies. The cookies are going to spike blood sugar levels due to the high carbohydrate and sugar content, triggering insulin production (the fat-storing hormone), and provide barely any vitamins or satiety. You can expect a sugar rush, with a blood sugar drop coming in an hour or so, leaving you “starving” for more food, even though you ate an hour ago. As you can see, these are very different reactions to consuming the identical amount of calories.
Calories from one food can be totally addictive, while calories from other foods can help your body heal. Think about it. Have you ever looked up, and before you knew it, the whole bag of potato chips was gone? Has this ever happened with a bag of spinach?
Food intolerances also play a part in how the body processes food. When you eat something that triggers an inflammatory response in your body, your entire system is going to react differently. This food will cause inflammation, poor digestion, and spark a negative reaction in the body. This does not come down to the food’s calorie content. This reaction comes down to the way that your body processes this food or food group, and this can vary from person to person.
Additionally, calories from various foods are not absorbed in the same way. With high-fiber foods, like those delicious veggies, the body absorbs about three-quarters of the calories they contain. The remaining calories are excreted from the body with the help of fiber.
Unfortunately, you can also eat three nutrient-deprived meals and stay within your daily calorie count by eating a doughnut, a 100-calorie snack pack, a turkey wrap, and maybe a microwaveable “light” dinner. These foods will keep you hungry and energy deprived all day leaving you irritable and wanting more, but also wanting to stay “within your range”.
That is no way to live, beauties!
Just as we are much more than our hair color, food is much more than calories.
Food contains other macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals in different combinations, which provide your body with information that either fights or fuels disease. So ditch the low-calorie rice cakes for the high-fat avocado and soak up all of those creamy, hormone balancing benefits.
Hannah Aylward is a Certified Health Coach, nutrition consultant, fitness instructor, healthy living expert, and founder of HAN. She helps both men and women around the world lose weight, heal skin disturbances, balance hormones, heal gut imbalances and feel at home in their bodies through healthy eating, movement, mindfulness and positive self-talk. Her goal is to help others “learn the tools that they need to live the lives they deserve”. Get to know her by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.