Why Not all Calories are Created Equal
I wanted to bring to your attention the widely spread myth that all calories are equal. They are not. I know I know, it goes against everything that we have been taught previously that to ‘lose weight you have to eat less calories’, sounds logical doesn’t it. In the 1980’s the food industry went on a huge and rather unfortunate PR campaign against fat in foods whilst substituting all the fat for sugar because fat has double the amount of calories that sugar has. However, this campaign did not take into account the hormonal effects that certain foods have on your body.
One of the major problems with a low calorie diet is that they usually end up triggering a cascade of fat-storing hormones. Infact, most of the low-calorie foods recommended for these diets are actually the cause of this cascade.
For example, when you eat a high-sugar high carb energy bar, your blood sugar levels rise causing your pancreas to release insulin which in turn moves sugar from the food you have just eaten to your cells to be used for energy, but it also stores extra sugar as fat. This is a major factor in people putting on weight because they generally eat these foods at a time when their muscles can’t utilize the sugar; hence the body stores it as fat.
On the other hand, an avocado inhibits insulin release leading to a slower and more sustained energy release leading the consumer to feel fuller for longer. The other great thing about avocados is that it actually sends signals to the body to burn body fat.
You can’t over-consume calories without gaining weight, that’s a fact. But I would go as far as to say that the hormonal effects of the foods you eat are just as important. You should be eating lots of vegetables and protein as well as a mix of healthy fats like olive oil and avocado.
Your body craves what it eats most regularly. Our bodies learn to use whatever food has ‘worked’ before to fuel us. A study in 2011 of low-carb and low-fat diets showed that our bodies mimicked cravings of what had been restricted. The participants on the low-carb diet showed that they had fewer cravings for high-sugar and high-carb foods. Eating healthier calories will re-teach your body what is best for it. This switch will be difficult at first as you will go through what is commonly known as withdrawal. However, I promise you it will get easier and your body will start to have these cravings less and less.
You should seek calories from foods that are high in protein and fibre, healthy fats are also satisfying and will help you feel fuller for longer.
Below are 4 action steps that you can use to control your diet.
1. Stay full with protein rich, high fibre meals with healthy fats.
2. Avoid cravings by making sure that whole, healthy foods make up at least 80% of your daily food intake.
3. Incorporate hormonal activating foods like coconut oil, olive oil and avocado along with a healthy portion of vegetables to optimize your hormonal response.
4. Reserve “starchy” slow-carb intake and “sugary” fast-carb intake to the hours before and immediately after your workouts.