We’ve all heard that weight-loss mantra ‘Calories In, Calories out.’ It certainly makes sense if weight loss is your primary goal, rather then counting the calorie values for every morsel you eat or drink that enters your lips. Calories out includes every mile you run, or weight you lift. Is that the way it has to be?
When is a calorie not just a calorie?
“Calories are just a measure of energy in food”, informs Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD. The ‘less is more’; ‘calories in, calories out’; ‘all calories are equal’ myths just don’t hold water. The metabolism-burning ability of calories from protein such as nuts that are loaded with minerals and vitamins and a low fat processed snack just can’t be considered equal.
Vegetables are lower in calories but they also provide nutrients and they can lower the overall calorie-density totals for an entree by allowing you to modify how much protein or complex carbs, such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, that is included, while still feeling satiated in the end.
Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables will always be a healthier choice versus processed foods whether they are labeled ‘low-calorie’, ‘heart healthy’ or ‘low-fat’. Those are often just marketing catch phrases, and the ingredients list shows the real nutrition truth.
Eating regular meals plus a snack, portion control, choosing high energy-burning foods and drinking plenty of water, as well as exercising regularly is the best plan for long-term weight loss.
Many people find using food tracking apps or diaries helpful in understanding food-triggers, and places where positive food changes can be made, but don’t let them rule your life. It’s a tool, as well as many other options such as being mindful as you eat by not eating meals in front of a TV or computer screen, group meetings such as Weight Watchers, utilizing workout trainers or different types of fitness classes, or contacting a nutritionist to look at the bigger picture of your age, family history, eating habits, and nutritional needs all benefits your goals.
I hope that you enjoy your food and know that it fuels your body, mind and spirit!