Thursday, June 16, 2011

Myth # 2 - Calories are all that count

I used to be a big believer that all that matters for weight loss is calories in and calories out.  I think this misses the point of why we are trying to lose weight.  We want to lose weight to become healthier! The quality of your calories does matter. My grandma had it right when she told me "You are what you eat".  Macro-nutrients are so important! I aim to keep my macro-nutrient levels at 30% carbs, 30% protein and 40% fat.  For a 1600 calorie diet, this is 120 g carbs, 71 g fat and 120 g protein.  I am working on trying to eat more natural, unprocessed foods.  Admittedly, this is a bit of a struggle because convenient food is so darn convenient! We have seen a huge influx of highly processed "diet foods" for the past 20 years. Have we seen people getting smaller & fitter?  No! We have seen the people get heavier.  Natural vegetables, fruits and grains that are high in complex carbs and fiber, are absorbed slowly and satisfy our hunger.  If we eat food that is heavily processed with refined sugars, salt and fat, we don't feel full as longer. In turn we may end up eating more because the satiety is lower.

I am not a fan of the low fat craze either. Fat increases the satiety of food and is good for you! I am certainly not advocating a diet of deep fried foods, but I am also not afraid of using full fat blue cheese dressing on my salad.  Your calories have to come from somewhere and with the big push to cut fat from diets as led to a carb explosion!  Plus when they make a food "low fat" they are almost always adding sugar too it to make up for the flavor lost from fat.

Low sugar and carbs, not low fat!  

When we eat, our body converts digestible carbs into blood sugar (glucose).  Our blood sugar level can affect how hungry we feel and how much energy we have. Glucose levels determine if we burn fat or store it.  Our pancreas creates a hormone (insulin) that transports glucose into our body's cells where it is used for energy. If we eat a lot of foods that are quickly processed into blood sugar, our pancreas goes into overtime to produce the insulin needed for the glucose to be used as energy.  This insulin surge tells our body that plenty of energy is available and we should stop burning fat and start storing it.  It gets worse though. After such a big insulin surge the glucose is transported out of our blood and our blood sugar levels will drop below normal levels.  This will leave us feeling lethargic and hungry.  This also will make most people crave high sugar foods, so our blood sugar rises again.  Regulating your blood sugar levels is one of the most effective ways to maintain your fat-burning capacity.  Many people put so much focus on preventing low blood sugar, but should focus on not ever spiking it so high.  We want to try to avoid the peaks and that will in turn prevent the valleys.

So if you are trying to lose weight, eat a piece of cake and keep your calorie level within the correct range - Is it all good?  Maybe or possibly you surged your body with insuln, triggered your body to store fat, not burn it and caused your blood sugar to drop too low making you tired and hungry.

Check out this clip from the Andry Griffith show!  Even Barney knows that carbs & glucose aren't good if you are watching your weight!  Thanks Jimmy for posting this on Facebook!


Theresa said...

great post. Can I send a link to you from a very interesting Doctor in Canada? I'd love your opinion on it! I'm so happy you have found your balance you look wonderful!

Cody Jo said...

Thank you so much! Sure, I would love to read it. Email me at

Desert Singer said...

True True True!!! :D

Steve Parker, M.D. said...

Delightful clip from Mayberry RFD. Confirms what Gary Taubes has written: before the 1960s or so, "everybody" knew you have to stay away from carbs if you have an overweight problem.

Joe Lindley said...

Yes - I love the Barney Fife wisdom here. Another point to add (about low carb, high fat diets) is that keeping the carbs off your plate avoids the highs and lows as you mentioned, but also, over time removes the big desire for sweets. I'm on a low carb diet now and still have cravings every now and then, but it's nothing like what I had when I wasn't on the diet. It liberates you! :)

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