Do Calories Really Count? (and how many should you eat?)
We all learned that if we want to lose weight it’s simply about “calories in calories out”. It’s simply a matter of eating less food and exercising more and you will drop those pounds.
It’s a simple equation. It SEEMS to make a lot of sense.
But… how’s that working out for you?
Most women find that this formula can work … for the short term. Pounds or kilos can come off. But sometimes they don’t, and even when they do they usually pack right back on – and then some.
We certainly have it embedded into our brains that we need to keep our calorie intake really LOW, and then BURN lots of calories just to maintain a healthy weight, and especially if we have extra fat to lose
But… what if this ‘TRUTH’ that’s been around ever since most of us were born isn’t as true as they thought?
If you’re a woman over 40, there is so much more to the picture than simply counting your calories.
Ageless health and vitality (AND enjoying all the benefits of being your ideal weight) means resetting your hormones, repopulating your microbiome and reprogramming your mind. And, the newer science is now showing us that calorie counts have NOTHING to do with any of those things.
Let’s deconstruct this calorie conundrum and help you to understand what you should be doing when it comes to calories.
This is something that I’m constantly having to educate my clients about. It took ME quite a while to reprogram my own brain about this. Even once I learned this information I still found myself wondering about calories for quite some time.
Deconstructing the Calorie Counting Myth
This simple equation of Consume fewer calories + Burn more calories = Weight Loss is the premise that most of the diets you’ve ever done was based on – especially the ones you did before say, 10 years ago.
And… you might be thinking to yourself, some of those diets WORKED. You DID lose weight. You counted your calories, and maybe your grams of fat, and you dropped the pounds.
But.. here’s my question: did all those pounds stay off?
And, even if some or all of them did, how much fun are you having in your life if you are constantly counting and restricting your calories?
Then there’s the proven fact that most people go through those regimes, carefully measure their foods, obsessively track those calories, …. And then, they go on vacation, or something really tough comes up in their lives, or they just get tired of it all.
They just can’t sustain the diet and so they gain the weight back.
Well, guess what? I’ve got good news.
You can quit being so rigid about considering and counting your calories! You can quit right now and you can still feel healthy and light in your body. You can still maintain your weight and even lose weight if that’s what you’re after.
And that’s because it’s the QUALITY of the calories that is most important. QUANTITY is much less relevant.
Now, don’t get me wrong! This isn’t just a carte blanche to go start consuming 5 or 6 thousand calories a day…. That should be obvious. And, in fact, if you are really focused on the QUALITY of your foods it would be nearly impossible to eat that many calories in a day.
There are many reasons to lay off on the calorie restriction—at least on a daily basis.
The Problems with Calorie Restriction
Your body is a finely tuned machine AND, like your brain, it’s really not caught up with the modern world. When it detects that there is a shortage of calories coming in, it will immediately adjust your metabolism by lowering it to conserve energy. It will hold on for dear life to your fat stores, because from its perspective you might need them because a famine is coming!
Constant calorie restriction can upset your hormonal pathways and throw them out of balance. And that is totally counter to your goal of losing weight.
Now – this is for another article, but there ARE some benefits to very short term restriction of calories, such as with intermittent fasting plans. But this has to be done carefully to encourage what you want to happen in your body, instead of putting it into a panic.
What you do want to avoid is this constant restriction of the calories you consume. Instead you want those high quality calories coming in with every single meal.
So, what exactly am I talking about when I say you want to focus on quality rather than quantity?
It simply means that when you are tuned into what your body really wants for fuel and energy, and then eat those foods, your body will naturally shift into its most healthy weight.
But, of course, that’s not always the easiest thing to do.
There’s so much interference getting in the way of those signals from your body. That interference comes from many things. One is of course the addictive foods that you might be eating.
Those foods send an instant shot of pleasure to your brain, and that makes you crave more and more. And when you are filling up on THOSE foods, you can’t even hear your body asking for those high quality foods, plus you don’t even feel like eating them.
These addictive foods are definitely those lower quality calories that you want to avoid.
Which foods are these? Well, there are few universal culprits, but it actually varies for everyone…. One person’s fuel might be another’s kryptonite. So this is something that you determine over time as you begin to improve the quality of the calories (ie foods and beverages) you are consuming.
But one thing that is universally addictive and will totally mess with your body’s signals and messages, plus wig out your hormone balance so the weight piles on is… you guessed it – SUGAR.
Oh Sugar! We love it and we love to hate it. It’s everywhere you look, and whether your personal poison is M&M’s, whole grain toast, gourmet deserts, white wine, any whatever else that is packed with sugar grams ….. too much of it isn’t going to work out so well.
And what’s too much is – again – different for each individual.
There’s lots more to say about sugar – but for now I’ll leave it at that.
What I want to reinforce here is that you can leave off the wondering how many calories you ate. Instead you will much better served by evaluating how WELL you ate.
Did you get plenty of fiber? Lots of healthy greens and multi-colored vegetables? Did you stay away from processed foods and trans-fats and did you instead make sure you got a decent intake of healthy fats and clean protein?
When you are tracking THOSE sorts of measurements, you are accomplishing two of the three important goals for feeling energized, light and healthy at this age. Resetting your hormones and repopulating your microbiome.
The third goal is to reprogram your THOUGHTS. The thought I want you to start reprogramming today is this insistence that you need to cut your calories to maintain a healthy weight.
Delete that one. Replace it! Check the science. It’s outdated information…. Or at the very least incomplete.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather eat a nice serving of high quality, high calorie foods, than chow down on chemical laden diet products with half the calories and that leave me feeling hungry and unsatisfied!
How can you add more high quality foods into your life today?