The Quality of Calories Matters

It's all about portion control!

Calorie intake!

Moderation!

Chances are, you've heard all of these and more when people refer to the "best way to lose weight." In fact, companies have made millions of dollars selling these concepts to consumers. Weight Watchers, for example, works off a point system. You can eat whatever you want as long as you stay within your daily allowed points. And how about that guy who lost almost 40 pounds eating nothing but McDonald's? He then went on to tour over 90 schools and tell kids how they, too, could achieve their dream bod by scarfing down hot fudge sundaes as long as they stayed within the daily recommended calorie intake.

I admit, the entire concept of "a calorie is a calorie" is an appealing one, but it also defies our basic common sense and dupes us into thinking that a 100-calorie Oreo fun pack is just as acceptable for our body as a 100-calorie Fuji apple.

But here's the thing they don't talk about in mainstream health/fitness advice: Food isn't just calories--it's information.

Quality Counts

mac and cheese.gif

Let's say I gave you 1,600 calories worth of Kraft Mac N' Cheese, Chips Ahoy! cookies, and Funfetti cake to eat on a daily basis. Since you're meeting your daily calories, it's quite possible that your weight could be going down, but how your body assimilates that cheesy, sugary concoction is different from how it does so with nutritious foods.

Why? Because your body knows what to do with whole foods. But with genetically engineered/processed foods? Your body acts like someone trying to read directions in a foreign language for the first time. 

What is this? What does that say? I'm supposed to do what now?

Since it has no idea what to do with those foreign foods, it decides to just store them as fat.

It does so, in the same way you store that weird kitten sweater your grandma gave you for Christmas in the garage. You know, just in case she swings by and asks you to put it on. Just in case you need it someday.

Food isn’t just calories—it’s information.

Dietary Composition

Contrary to popular belief, obesity is driven by dietary composition, not calories. Yes, calorie intake is important, but it's not the say-all for health and fitness (or a lack thereof).

Have you ever heard the phrase "skinny fat"? This refers to someone who has low muscle mass and a high body fat percentage, but looks thin and in-shape to the naked eye.

Genetics can play into a slender frame, but if you're eating cookies and Marie Callender's pies all day long, here's what's happening on the inside: Those sweets are raising your glycemic index. They're affecting your insulin levels, your metabolism, your brain's productivity, and your hormones. They're causing inflammation and stored as visceral fat, which can become dangerous and accumulate in your arteries.

Finding the Right Calories For You

In my article about bio-individuality, I talked about how there is no "one size fits all" diet for everyone, which is important to remember in the world of mainstream media where we are constantly being bombarded with "the next big thing in health and fitness!"

I know it can be tough not to fall prey to the OMG weight loss stories that boast crazy results from even crazier methods, so here's a good rule of thumb:

Always look to your common sense.

If you ask a group of first graders whether 200 calories of broccoli or 200 calories of donuts are better, you'll get a unanimous answer.

That's because if we trust our intuition, it will lead us straight to our common sense.

If you tune in to what your body really needs and nourish it properly with quality calories, I promise it will reward you with the results you want and more!

Elizabeth Reyes