Calories Don't Count Like You Think They Do

I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the dreaded “C” word - CALORIES. (Cue spooky Halloween music) Conventional nutritional wisdom tells you to count your calories, make sure you’re burning more than you take in, and you will lose weight. Let’s break this down: first, this strategy doesn’t work for everyone, especially in the long term. Second, counting calories can be exhausting, and eventually discourage you from living a healthy lifestyle, which is the opposite of what it’s supposed to be doing! But what other option do we have if we want to lose weight?

First, a little background.

All Calories Are Not Created Equal

We inherently know that a cinnamon roll is bad for us, right? But do you know why? Is it the fat, the sugar, the bread, the cinnamon-y goodness…? The answer might surprise you.

First, it’s NOT the fat. You heard me right. The reason cinnamon rolls will hurt your health instead of help it is, put simply, the sugar. (dun, dun, dun)

Here’s the simplified reason: good quality, “healthy” fat is actually needed to help your body digest your food properly, and to help you feel full. (A side note: if the cinnamon roll has unhealthy or “toxic” fats in it, they would certainly contribute to the roll being bad for you, but the food quality discussion can be saved for another post.) Sugar, however, has no nutritional value, and actually causes and/or exacerbates disease, including obesity and diabetes (which seems obvious) but also things like cancer and autoimmune diseases. Sugar is really killing us all. Not to mention that it actually is a drug, which, by definition, causes you to crave it until you develop a tolerance for it and your body continuously demands more and more. See why there’s an obesity epidemic happening?

Second, it’s not just the sugar, at least not in the way you’re thinking. You may think, “okay, I know sugar is bad for me, so I’ll just skip refined white sugar and sweeteners and stick with whole-grain breads for a healthier option.” Sorry, whole grains are not a healthier option. Bread is nearly as harmful to your body as if you ate a spoonful of sugar. You know why? Your body processes grains just like it processes sugar.

What To Do Instead Of Counting Calories

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to count calories to lose weight. With a little nutritional know-how (it’s not as hard as you think), you won’t even have to look at the number of calories in your food ever again.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. I’ve done it, and the results are AMAZING.

So how does this work? I’m so glad you asked.

Again, the short version: the human body was not designed to eat wheat and other grains. Until the advent of agriculture, humans did not consume grains, because they are not edible when picked from the ground. Granted, not all grains are created equal, especially today (organic grains, for example, are worlds better [though still not great] for you, due to the harvesting process of conventionally grown grains. Just google “harvesting conventionally grown wheat” and see what comes up. One word: PESTICIDES. It’s gross, people!) But still, grains are not the healthiest option for you, and a grain-free diet will likely leave you feeling much better than if you included them! (Another side note: once you’ve gone through an elimination phase and determined what foods bother you, some people add the less-inflammatory grains, like white rice, with success. It all depends on your body.)

The focus must be on the type of foods and their quality, not calories alone. The calories from olive oil and veggies are VASTLY DIFFERENT than the calories from a frozen yogurt. It's as simple as selecting whole unprocessed foods versus foods that have to be processed to be edible. One will make you healthier, one will not. The choice is up to you.