Weight Loss is not Just about Counting Calories

The popular belief about weight loss long held by dieters and professed by fitness and diet experts was: Burn more calories than you take in and you’ll lose weight. Simple! Well perhaps so but many disillusioned dieters would beg to differ with this mathematical maxim.

Many food companies, intent on improving their image in the face of mounting obesity have created “lite” versions of popular snacks like Oreos, Twinkie and Twixt. Coca Cola has created a fun video to demonstrated how much fun it is to burn off the calories in a can of regular Coke.
Diet and fitness writers agree that few people can lose weight and keep it off with a low-calorie diet. Unfortunately dieters who can’t are blamed by doctors, dietitians, and friends for their lack of self-discipline. Dieter who failed to lose weight or who couldn’t keep the weight off were told that they had no willpower or that they were cheating on their diets.

New research points to the fact that those people who could not lose weight or keep it off may have had problems with body temperature—not willpower!

Weight loss by rowingEating too much refined sugars and starches will affect body temperature and metabolism. Refined sugars and started raise insulin levels. This in turn sends our bodies a message to conserve calories which are absorbed by our fat cells. Thus, there are too few calories for your body. Sensing this your brain triggers a starvation response.

In a nutshell, this means the brain sends signals to the stomach that it is ravenous. Our metabolism slows down. We obey the message sent from our brain to our stomach and we eat as if we haven’t seen food in weeks! Explained as a chemical reaction, highly refined carbohydrates—foods like desserts, chips, crackers, white bread, just about any fast food—cause a spike in our blood sugar. Thus, the pancreas produces an overabundance of insulin which, in turn, sends a message to our body to store energy as fat.

Food experts agree that a better approach—if we buy into this new theory—is to hit the problem at its source: Cut back on or eliminate foods that stimulating the fat cells. Choose foods that do not have a high concentration of refined carbohydrates. So dump those “white foods” like processed snack foods and desserts, white rice and white potato products. Swap those for brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole grains. Diet experts contend that by changing what we eat, we can basically stop counting calories. This is a big change. In  essence we are being asked to focus on WHAT not on HOW MUCH we eat.

While this relieves the stress from those who have struggled in vain counting calories but never losing weight, it adds a new stress to our food selections. The strictly mathematical look at diet meant that food intake was merely numbers. All calories were equal. So if you wanted to splurge and blow your total day’s calories on a banana split then so be it. As long as your intake was smaller than the calories you burned you’d lose weight.

Not so with the new way of viewing weight loss. Even that banana would be suspect as it contains a high concentration of sugars. As for the rest of
those highly refined carbohydrates? Sorry! Banana splits just went the way of potato chips and cookies!
Diet expert Dr. James Ludwig also points out that calorie-cutting diets produce food yearnings which cannot be overlooked for long. Then, people do go off their diets with the best of intentions. However, he points out that switching to a diet high in whole grains and unrefined carbs does not produce those strong urges for salty and sugary foods. Thus, it is possible to stay on a whole-foods diet for much longer.

Fitness experts and body builders who want to drop a few pounds focus on whole foods as well. They advocate for a diet that is full of dark greens, fruits, whole grains, and proteins like chicken and fish.

So the message is out. Get rid of sweet foods and  drinks like juices and sodas. Ban ice cream and desserts from your cupboards and fridge. Combine a whole food diet with exercise as an effective weight loss regime.