When it comes to feeling better and losing weight, everyone tells you the same equation: it’s all about calories in vs. calories out. All calories are created equal. Just watch your calorie intake and you can eat whatever you want. Is this all true?
The answer: Not at all!
While many health articles tell you to stick to a certain calorie allotment, many don’t tell you how certain foods can increase your fat burning ability and how some foods actually inhibit you from losing weight, controlling blood sugar, decreasing risk for certain diseases such as diabetes, or promoting better metabolic health, despite the fact that they are the same calorie size! Let’s break it down.
Simple Carbohydrates Are Not Your Friend
When you make a choice for a snack or a meal, you’re putting that choice into your health plan.
If you think of smart options (such as an apple and almond butter, banana and yogurt, or whole grain toast with peanut butter), you’re putting protein and fiber into your body to keep you full for the morning and promote a healthier body weight.
However, if you choose something sugary – such as a donut, pastry, or pancakes (at the same calorie amount) – you’re only putting in temporary energy into your body that almost is immediately stored as fat as well as set yourself up for diabetes and other metabolic problems. Why is this? It’s all in how the body processes simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat differently!
A simple carbohydrate is easily broken down into the body and causes your blood sugar levels to swing. This leads to almost an automatic storage as fat, as well as messes with your body’s ability to process food for energy. This includes sugary foods such as baked goods, white breads, processed foods like crackers and cookies, fruit juices, candy, and most anything you can read in the labels that has enriched flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or anything listed with a “-tose” at the end of it. If you make a proactive choice to watch for these simple carbohydrates, you can make better nutritional choices right now!
Make Your First Thought: Protein & Fiber!
As soon as you open the fridge or order from the menu, make your first thought: protein & fiber! Before you even decide you want whole grain toast with your eggs, first choose that you want scrambled eggs this morning, THEN decide your complex carbohydrate that contains fiber. The reason for this is that protein takes more energy (aka calorie burn!) for your body to process. Protein is also your muscle’s main source for fuel! If you are looking to keep off extra fat – especially around the waistline – make protein your first choice every meal or snack. Next, you want to look for a food with fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains such as oatmeal, whole grain breads, quinoa, and brown rice. Read your labels and look for foods with at least 3g. of fiber per serving and less than 10g. of sugar. The combination of protein and fiber will be processed in a way that is easier on your blood sugar, keep your energy high, and promote weight loss and overall better well-being.
In conclusion, while it is important to monitor your calorie intake for better health and weight, it is extremely important to pay attention to what type of calories you are putting into your body. Think of your body as your car that you drive every day. You wouldn’t put junk gas into your car – so don’t put junk food into your body as your source of fuel!
Remember to focus on healthy fats (such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts), lean protein (think grilled chicken, broiled seafood, reduced fat cheese, Greek yogurt), and fiber as your main sources for good energy, and save the empty calories like soda pop, candy, white breads, and baked goods as treats only. This plan will not only help the pounds go down on the scale, but it will also help you feel better balanced emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Cheers to better health!