As we bid farewell to the old year and usher in a new one, many of us embark on a journey to transform our lives, and for a significant number, weight loss is at the forefront of these resolutions. Counting calories has been believed to be the number one step to weight loss, however, counting calories can actually be the number one saboteur to you achieving sustainable, healthy weight loss. Here's why...
Calories in DO NOT Equal Calories Out:
In the world of weight loss, the simplistic notion that "calories in equals calories out" has
been a prevailing mantra. However, the reality is more nuanced than a mere mathematical equation. So many times I've had a client tell me "I only eat dinner, I can't understand why I'm not losing weight!", this is why. Contrary to popular belief, when you drastically decrease your caloric intake, your body doesn't always respond by efficiently burning off excess fat. Instead, it may enter a mode commonly referred to as "starvation mode," slowing down your metabolism as a survival mechanism. This physiological response is the body's way of conserving energy when faced with a perceived scarcity of resources. Therefore, the oversimplified idea that reducing calories invariably leads to weight loss overlooks the intricate and adaptive nature of our bodies.
The Quality vs. Quantity Conundrum:
The adage "quality over quantity" holds profound significance when it comes to our dietary choices and overall health. Instead of fixating solely on calorie counts, prioritizing the quality of the food we consume is paramount. Our bodies metabolize nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and proteins in intricate ways that extend beyond mere energy expenditure. Fiber, for instance, aids digestion, promotes a feeling of fullness, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Essential vitamins and minerals play pivotal roles in various physiological functions, contributing to overall well-being. Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados and nuts, are crucial for brain health and hormone production. Proteins, the building blocks of our cells, support muscle growth and repair. By emphasizing nutrient-dense foods rich in these components, we not only nourish our bodies more effectively but also significantly reduce our cravings for less healthy foods which results in sustainable weight loss.
Mindful Eating Matters:
Life is busy, we often find ourselves eating on autopilot, unaware of the signals our bodies are sending. Instead of fixating on calorie counts, embrace mindful eating. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, savor each bite, and engage in the dining experience. By fostering a mindful approach to eating, you'll improve your mood, energy level and focus, improve your weight management, and simply feel healthier, stronger, and thus happier in your body.
Build Sustainable Habits:
Counting calories IS tedious and unsustainable in the long run. Instead of viewing weight loss as a temporary endeavor, adopt a mindset that focuses on sustainable lifestyle changes. Build habits that promote overall health, such as regular exercise, proper hydration, and balanced meals. This holistic approach not only contributes to weight loss but enhances your overall quality of life. The best investment in yourself is finding a personal trainer, a yoga teacher, or a registered dietitian to help coach you along the way. Here are 10 tips to get you started!
Emotional and Psychological Well-being:
Weight loss isn't just about physical changes; it's also deeply connected to emotional and
psychological well-being. Constantly counting calories can create a restrictive mindset, leading to feelings of guilt and frustration when deviating from the prescribed limits. Instead, foster a positive relationship with food and your body, celebrating achievements without fixating on numbers.
As you embark on your weight loss journey in the New Year, consider veering away from the calorie-centric approach. Build sustainable habits that emphasize the quality of your food choices, mindful eating, and physical activity. By doing so, you'll not only achieve your weight loss goals but also cultivate a healthier, more balanced, and fulfilling life in the year ahead. Cheers to a New Year and a new, empowered you!
Cecilia Hagen-Revelins RDN, CDN, RYT.