Ditching the Calorie Count
There’s so much that I want to talk about relating to this topic and the passion is just flowing right out of me. I hope that after you read this you will start to rethink the way that you are nourishing your body, the inner dialog that goes along with how you select your nutrition and the energy exchange that happens when you eat.
Counting calories drives me insane!!! Just admit that the control freak in you also gets exhausted counting calories, planning meals and jotting down everything that you put into your mouth. Don’t get me wrong; an occasional few days of food journaling can help you see where your emotions are over-taking your nutrition and when you should drink water, or go for a walk rather than stuff your face. There are endless studies that are proving that counting calories does not help you lose weight long term. What it will provide is guilt, stress, unhealthy food obsessions, and a higher consumption of processed, packaged “food”.
Kilocalorie (calorie) is measured by the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. This scientific equation was formed over 100 years ago by Wilber Olin Atwater. What Wilber didn’t take into account is that not all calories are created equal (100 cals of gummy worms vs. 100 cals of broccoli). He also didn’t calculate the amount of calories that the body does not digest like fiber. What works in a scientific lab, will not work for your entire system when it comes to your health, your satiety, and your happiness.
I’m sure you all have noticed that being thin does not mean that you are healthy, both mentally and physically. Personally, when I obsessed over my calorie intake (which I foolishly spent a month or two doing) I lost 1 pound and I was so preoccupied calculating how many calories were in every bite of salad, each sip of my latte, and whether I had enough calories sparred to actually enjoy my dinner. It was so draining and I look back at that past self and I feel sad. Sad that my idea of perfection was based on a number on the scale. Sad that I wasted precious energy that I could have used to run around and play with my family. Luckily, this way of living didn’t last long and I was able to just listen to my body to boost my energy. Now I eat the types of foods that make me feel alive both mentally and physically.
Mindfully eating and developing a trusting relationship with your body is what I think is missing in most diets. What works for your body nutritionally? What do you love to eat and are there ways to make that favorite dish more nutritionally sound? Do you have increased energy after your meals? Are you able to listen to the subtle cues that tell you when you are full? Do you feel satisfied after you eat? These are all questions that I can answer for you from a personal stand point, but I want you to reconnect to YOU. Your metabolic effect will be different than your friends and it will differ throughout the seasons of your life. That doesn’t mean that you stop eating and starve yourself to lose weight! It means that you need to show yourself even more attention and figure out what it is that works best nutritionally in your system.
Here’s why you are more than a calorie count:
~The energy and the vibrancy of the food you eat matters! (McDonald’s Burger, or a grass-fed, pasture raised, burger made at your house with organic lettuce and tomatoes) If you haven’t experienced the energy and vibrancy that fresh organic produces contain then go to your local farmer’s market, or start your own garden.
~Calories that are fully labeled out means that you are eating a diet that is processed and contains labels. There are no labels on my fresh salad, apples, and wild caught Alaskan Salmon. If you find that you get sucked into labels saying, “low fat, low cal, whole grain,” those are the products that shouldn’t be the basis of your life source. I also get concerned that you may be eating the same meals over and over again, which will not satisfy you mentally. Leaving you craving extra calories.
~The nutrients of your food should outweight the amount of calories and when you eat a well balanced, clean diet your body will naturally know when it is full.
~Your metabolism suffers when you restrict your calories and literally starves the engine that is burning in your body. Add in some muscle, hard workouts, some stressful work/life experiences and you are NOT meant to eat the same 1200 calories a day. There are days where my calories are probably close to 3500-4500, and there are days where I’m probably somewhere around 1800. I’ve learned to listen to what my body needs and to make as healthy of choices as possible, as a way of taking care of and loving myself.
Here’s what I know that has shifted my idea of food:
~If there’s something to count or to have a number of it’s your protein in grams. 1 gram of protein per 1 pound is usually a good starting point. The protein will help to increase your muscle mass, and extra muscle naturally burns more calories at a resting rate.
~When you eat a diet based on whole foods balancing your protein, carbs and fat you don’t need to worry about getting fat. You will have so much energy and be able to hear and feel the cues of your body to let you know what it is you need to be eating. Again, it goes back to developing that trusting relationship with yourself.
~Lowering your amount of sugar and carbs is always a good idea even if you are eating healthy. Excess sugar feeds disease just as quickly as it adds extra pounds to your frame.
~Higher intake of healthy fats will boost your energy, your mood and keep you feeling full longer. Don’t be scared of fat! (Ghee, avocado, nuts, coconut oil, etc it’s all good!)
Here’s what you should be eating…guilt free:
-Wild caught Alaskan Salmon which is high in Omega 3’s
-Homemade Bone Broth with gelatin
-Kale which has a 3:1 protein to carb ratio. It has all 9 essential amino acids needed to build and repair your body.
-Raw Garlic in everything. Salad dressings, pesto, marinades, over your sauteed kale…;)
-Sprouts have 100x more enzymes than fruit and vegetables to help your body absorb the nutrients you consume
-Organic pasture raised eggs. Eggs are just a complete meal! Eat them all the time.
-Liver from grass fed animals
-Organic Raw nuts
-As many vegetables, in as many colors are possible.
-High quality protein shakes (whey from grass fed cows, or a preferred Vegan option)
I hope that this helps you understand the importance of your nutritional choices without a calorie count. Feed your body every three-four hours and within the week I can promise that you will have increased energy and have a greater respect for trusting your body.