Many of us have learned to count calories and limit calories in order to lose weight. The food industry, medical professionals, dietitians, and weight loss programs all encourage calorie counting. But, are all calories equal? Is 100 calories of a highly processed snack food the same as 100 calories of almonds as a snack? The answer is “No”.
The reason overweight and obese people cannot lose weight by counting calories is because all calories are not equal. They are not processed in the body in the same manner. To think that our body responds the same way to 100 calories of soda as it does to 100 calories of lean meat is ridiculous. The way to lose weight is to limit animal products, get processed foods out of your diet, and increase the amounts of plant based, whole foods you consume.
Ignore the advice to eat anything in moderation. Nutrients matter. In a 2011 Harvard (D. Mozaffarian, T Hao, E. B. Rimm, et al. “Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Men and Women,” New England Journal of Medicine 364, no25 (2011):2392-404) study looking at calories in and calories out and weight gain over 4 years the authors found that the foods most associated with adding were French fries, potato chips, sugary drinks, meats, sweets, and refined grains. While the foods most associated with weight loss were yogurt, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The foods associated with weight loss were the ones with more nutrients per calorie! So are all calories equal? No!
Dr. Mark Hyman states in his April 11th 2014 Huffington Post article:
“…as Mark Twain said, ‘The problem with common sense is that it is not too common.’ I guess that is why the medical profession, nutritionists, our government, the food industry, and the media are all still actively promoting the outdated, scientifically disproven idea that all calories are created equal. Yes, that well-worn notion — that as long as you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight — is simply dead wrong.”
When we eat processed, highly sugared foods, our intestines very quickly absorb the sugars causing a spike in blood sugar and then a surge in insulin. High insulin levels cause:
- Increased storage of belly fat
- Increased inflammation in the body
- Increased triglycerides
- Lowers HDL (the good cholesterol)
- Increases blood pressure
- Lowers testosterone in men
- Promotes infertility in women
- Increases breast cancer risk
Research by Eugene J. Fine, M.D., and Dr. Richard D. Feinman, Ph.D., of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn found that excess insulin does set the stage for inflammation. They also found that people’s bodies respond differently to different foods. Based on the type of food consumed rather than the number of calories consumes, metabolism rates are different. It’s not just calories in and calorie burned off. The researchers conclude that controlling insulin secretion is the key to losing weight.
Chronic inflammation from high levels of insulin is what causes weight gain. The insulin’s affect on your brain is astounding. High insulin levels blocks the leptin level in the brain. Leptin is the hormone that controls hunger drive. If a person has high insulin levels, then the leptin hormone trigger is blocked so it can’t send a message to your brain to stop eating. But what happens instead is your think you are starving and you then keep eating. It’s like a hormonally driven addiction to food.
Even back in 2007 in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers concluded that due to differences in insulin response, low glycemic index foods is the best way to achieve weight loss.
So why are we still so focused on calories? The answer is to focus on QUALITY CALORIES — Calories with high nutritional value and low glycemic index.
Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10-day Detox Diet can help someone get off the highly processed foods and onto a real, whole food diet. It’s a pretty intense 10 day plan but by about day 4-5 you’re through the toughest part and there is a lot of support within his program to help get your through. PGX fiber tablets are a huge help too. They help keep your insulin levels low naturally and help you feel fuller longer while you are on this program.
So now that you know the answer to the question Are All Calories Equal? What’s your next step? The All Cooked Up coaches can help you if you need cooking lessons, tips on transforming your favorite recipes to healthier versions. Just let us know what you need help with and we are there to support you in your health quest!