Have you wondered why some people seem to be able to eat 'anything they want' and remain slim? Or why some find it difficult to impossible to lose weight, and keep it off? The idea that eating less- most often by calorie restriction or reduction- will eventually lead you to your goal weight is the crux of these phenomena. Why doesn't calorie restriction work? And if it does seem to work for awhile, why does it fail so often in the long-term?
If you are preoccupied with counting calories, either as a way to lose weight or maintain, you're doing yourself a disfavor. Here is a quick summary of why calorie counting, and restricting calories is so often doomed to failure, even after seemingly significant gains towards your goals.
Your body craves nutrients, not calories. What you put into your body is counted on a whole different scale than our minds. Calories accompany nutrients in food, but they are not the whole picture. Our digestive system is innately in tune with the food that we ingest. Low-calorie and calorie-free foods by design are also low-nutrient or nutrient-free. The result of eating these foods is an unsatisfied body!
Just imagine this scenario. Does it sound familiar? Do any of those meals seem wholesome, filling, or satisfactory? Your stomach and intestines knows the difference, too! Because your body craves nutrients, it is missing out when we ingest volumes of foodstuffs that is nevertheless empty of these vital nutritional elements. When your body does not receive the nutrients that it requires in adequately digestible forms, the endocrine system sends signals that more food is needed. Attempting a low-calorie meal may result in overeating the next meal to compensate. When the nutrient need is not met chronically, a person becomes obsessive about food; their need to eat will eventually overcome any willpower that would hold them in check to limit calorie intake.
And so we have the very definition of the yo-yo effect. Losing weight through calorie restriction may seem to work for short period of time. However, the long-term effect is usually at least as much weight gain as was lost. On top of that, it will be more difficult to start losing that weight because the body's reserves of crucial nutrients has been taxed.
With enough energy, we can easily overcome obstacles. Even those that had seemed insurmountable, immovable in a world of frozen, still water, the energy of a spring flood can tumble out of the way.
In order for the body to successfully harness the caloric energy of food, there must be enough energy coming in. So, we cannot starve our bodies into producing a healthy weight. We need those calories to push our energy level and have the resources to overcome obstacles.
One of the reasons that the spring flood is able to remove and eliminate large obstacles is the concept of inertia. This concept plays a key role in the effective weight-loss strategy called Intermittent Fasting. We'll delve more into intermittent fasting in another post! Suffice to say, without adequate calorie consumption, intermittent fasting will not work!
Perhaps the most insidious damage done by low calorie diets is the shunning of fat. Fear of calorie consumption leads us inevitably to fear fat. Because fats have a caloric value of 9 per gram, while sugars and proteins have a value of 4 per gram, those adhering to calorie restriction naturally gravitate to those foods that have little fat, thus less calories.
The problem with this scenario, is that fat in particular is the carrier of nutrients in our food, provides the necessary mouthfeel for foods to be palatable, and gives us the feeling of fullness. Fat alone carries the all important fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E, K2 and, and allows for the absorption of crucial minerals. Attempting weight loss without providing our body with these essential nutrients will not only be infinitely more difficult, but injurious to your health.
Natural, untampered-with foods have a wholesome mouthfeel that some may describe as 'creamy'. When these same foods are stripped of their fat profiles in order to reduce calories, the food is changed into a soulless impersonator of its former self. Remember how you felt about the meals listed in the meme above? Your body's need for fat is so fundamental to its well being that even those of staunch willpower could only force themselves to eat fat-free for so long, after which they can take no more. This lack of palatability is masked with additives and replacements. The food industry could not survive if people didn't like what they have to sell; so after the fats are removed, they are replaced with various chemicals and emulsions to re-create the mouthfeel (at least to a degree) of the original food. If it isn't obvious by now, the fact that real food constituents have been replaced with chemicals is not a good thing. It is ironic that those people who probably need these very nutrients the most are doing themselves the disfavor of avoiding them by choosing low-fat, low-calorie options.
Fat is also the main producer of satiety and good mood. Because of the intimate connection between our gut and brain, there is a constant two-way communication line always open between the two. Our diet directly influences our mood, and vice versa. A sated, satisfied person on a high-fat diet is far less likely to crave high-sugar snacks, or empty calorie meals full of sweets or breads low in nutrient value. In addition, the innate need for fats and the vitamins that they carry will eventually drive us to binge, if we've been at all successful in denying our bodies of these essential nutrients.
So let's do ourselves a favor and eat only whole foods with wholesome amounts of real fats! Fats are particularly helpful and nourishing include butter, ghee, coconut oil, lard, tallow, duckfat, heavy cream from raw milk!