What is the first word or phrase that comes to your mind when you read the word calories?!
When I hear the word calories, I think of weight loss or weight gain.
I was intrigued with the title of DaNelle Wolford’s new e-book Have Your Cake & Lose Weight Too!, which is offered right now as part of the Village Green Network’s End of Summer E-Book Bundle promotion.
DaNelle, who blogs at Weed ‘Em & Reap, lost 35 pounds and she shares with her readers how she did it. She did not take weight-loss pills, did not exercise excessively, did not count one single calorie or use portion control and did not eat low-fat, low-carb, or low-protein.
Well, then what did she do? She ate real food, whole and unprocessed. She also ate whenever the heck she wanted to, even late at night. Ate dessert every single day and ate foods she desired, just substituted “bad” ingredients for “good”. She ate all food groups, in a balance her body naturally desired.
In chapter 3, she focuses on modern weight loss myths which she claims have been causing confusion since the early 1900s.
- Myth #1 “Losing weight is all about calorie intake.”
- Myth #2 “Exercise is necessary for weight loss.”
- Myth #3 “Get your lean protein here, get your lean protein there, be sure to get it everywhere!”
- Myth #4 “A low-fat diet will make you skinny!
- Myth #5 “Watch those carbs, they are evil!”
- Myth #6 “Control those Portion!
- Myth #7 Eat 6 Small Meals a Day!
- Myth #8 Don’t eat past 7pm
- Myth #9 Drink your weight in water!”
Myth #1 intrigued me because I’ve intuitively believed this ever since I was introduced to the dietary principles recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation. DaNelle explains that calories are not considered equal in the body. It is the quality of your calorie that matters. “What you eat makes quite a difference. Just counting calories won’t matter much unless you look at the kinds of calories you’re eating.” – Dr. Dariush Mozaffaria. DaNelle illustrates this point by comparing 2 tootsie rolls to an egg, both 70 calories.
2 Tootsie Rolls is 70 calories
Ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, condensed skim milk, cocoa, whey, soya lecithin, nature, and artificial flavors. No essential nutrients or minerals.
1 egg is 70 calories.
Full of fat-soluable vitamins A, D & E, as well as B1, B2, B6 & B12, one egg packs a powerhouse of nutrients. Additionally, it provides Folate and the minerals phosphorus, calcium, iron, iodine, selenium, and zinc, as well as antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
DaNelle asserts that the calorie theory, also known as the “eat less, move more” theory, is eternally flawed because it ignores the importance of nutrients – the very reason why we eat food in the first place!
What everybody seems to forget is that food is so much more than calories! When you ingest a food, whether it is a hamburger, a popsicle, or a whole-wheat brownie – each has many possible uses for the body. Depending on the food you eat, and the quality of it, your body may use it to build and repair tissues, make enzymes, make hormones, produce bile or stomach acid, store it for future energy such as glycogen or fat, or it may fail to be digested and become only partially absorbed, harming your delicate gut bacteria.
Yet, people like AnnMarie Michaels of Cheeseslave do report success losing weight by eating less and moving more in a recent article. She shared this last weekend that she has now lost 30 pounds. So while I do believe that not all calories are created equal, I do wonder if one path to losing weight is to eat nutrient dense food, but less of it … and move more?! I am interested to see if she will report that she has successfully sustained that weight loss over time.
Meanwhile, Kim Knoch, who blogs at Eat Fat Lost Fat and The Nourishing Cook reports that she lost 40 pounds in her new e-book Kick the Weight with Keto How to Lose Weight and Feel Great on a Paleo-Ketogenic Diet, also available with this End of Summer E-Book Bundle.
Kim lost weight by focusing mainly on counting carbohydrates, limited to 20 to 30 grams per day, so that she enters a state of ketosis. Nutritional ketosis, or keto for short, is a high-fat, adequate protein, low-carbohydrate diet where your brain is using ketones for fuel instead of glucose. On the topic of calories, Kim seems to concur with DaNelle:
The little mantra everyone has been pounding over your head your whole life about “Calories In, Calories Out”, and my personal favorite: “Eat Less, Exercise More” is very oversimplified and has caused more harm than good. The truth is, calories do matter–but only to a point. What matters more is what types of foods those calories come from; 200 calories of coconut oil is not treated the same way in the body as 200 calories of a Snickers Bar.
So, while DaNelle didn’t count calories or carbs and Kim counted mainly carbs with a secondary focus on counting calories … both have lost weight. Both concur that not all calories are created equal. Read more about both of their different approaches to weight loss by purchasing their ebooks, offered as part of the bundle on promotion for the next week. I am really enjoying reading each of these personal testimonials myself. Definitely food for thought!
What has your experience been of counting calories, carbs or neither and losing weight?
4 Responses to Are all calories created equal?
[…] Have Your Cake & Lose Weight, Too! by DaNelle Wolford of Weed Em’ & Reap NEW I reviewed this book! […]
[…] Have Your Cake & Lose Weight, Too! by DaNelle Wolford of Weed Em’ & Reap […]
I completely agree with both authors’ views on losing weight and that all calories are not created equal- And I, too, have lost weight doing each of their programs as well as MANY others over the years. I have lost a significant amount of weight on many different diets including “Slimfast” from the 80’s (lol- a bit embarrassing!), the Atkins Diet, the South Beach diet, simply counting calories and exercising, counting fat grams, fasting, detoxing, etc., but most times have gained the weight back. The key, in my opinion, is finding a way of eating that will sustain my health as well as keep the weight off. Whatever program one subscribes to it has to be a way of life that we will continue indefinitely and most “diets” out there simply just cannot do that as we become weary, bored, and sick of eating the same way all the time, not to mention how unhealthy most are if continued for more than a few weeks.
With that said, I personally feel that eating a whole foods, non-processed diet is the only way to maintain long-term health and a healthy weight (and low carbs obviously work, too). No matter which plan we choose it takes discipline to commit to buying, cooking and eating a whole foods diet and to not go back to “bad” stuff, especially in the real world that we all live in, which can be extremely difficult. For me, a sugar addict, I can pretty much lose weight on any diet that excludes sugar and white flour. When I first joined WAPF almost 3 years ago I lost 10 pounds in about 8 months just by simply eating my farmer’s pastured eggs every morning. I did nothing else different. Before, I either skipped breakfast altogether or my morning meal consisted of something processed.
All in all, look at history. Our obesity and disease epidemics mainly came into existence in the past hundred years when we started processing and refining everything. 😦
I abhor the very idea of counting calories. I think it can lead to orthorexia in some people and is just an emphasis on the wrong things. Food quality is everything. It’s not that calories (the sheer amount of energy you take in) don’t count, it’s that counting calories isn’t the point. Yet, some people find it useful. I doubt it works well in the long-run because it encourages a weird mindset in my opinion that is ultimately counterproductive, at least in supporting my goals and objectives.
I agree with the authors that it’s the quality of the food you are eating that matters: two Tootsie Rolls will never equal an egg except in a sheer energy calculation. But even that is misleading, because our bodies don’t work like furnaces or car engines or any other simplistic, mechanical model that is typically applied. In addition to the quality of food, the macronutrient proportions have differing hormonal effects. Insulin is produced in response to ingestion of a lot of carbohydrates, even a lot of protein (surprise!), but not in response to fat, which is why a higher-fat diet is both more satiating and keeps blood sugar level.
Lots of people have found short-term success with the “eat less, move more” philosophy, and one one level, it makes a certain intuitive sense. But again, it is over-simplified and misleading. It may be that we’ve been looking at the whole question of what causes weight gain or loss from the wrong direction. Gary Taubes has pointed out that people don’t gain weight because they eat too much, they eat too much because they’re fat. Body fat is not inert calorie storage, it is metabolically and hormonally active tissue. Other researchers have said the hormonal signals from the wrong food (sugary crap) makes the body store excess sugar as fat, and being fat is a signal you are malnourished to some degree: your body keeps signaling for you to eat (stimulating appetite) to induce you to keep eating until you meet its nutritional needs. Obviously, this doesn’t work as well in modern times with processed junk food so easily available. This is why eating nutrient-dense food including lots of vegetables (a source of various micronutrients) is a better approach. The body can meet its needs with a lower volume of food and energy density (calories).
The only thing that has ever worked for me long-term is slow, long-term changes to my eating habits and lifestyle. I have gradually taken off 10-15 excess pounds over the past year by using a modified form of Intermittent Fasting where I eat pretty much only between noon and 8 p.m. without restricting calories, pretty much following a Paleo template (moderate animal protein and lots of fat and lots of veggies, some fruit, some white rice or potatoes but not tons of them, and occasional treats) along with Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee recipe in the morning (butter and MCT oil to give the brain ketones for energy and good cognitive performance while maintaining fat-burning). Now that I’m working at ho me, it’s obvious to me that I really seldom crave breakfast, and if I do, I go ahead and eat it. No hard-and-fast rules. And I tend to eat most of my daily carb intake at night, to help me sleep better. Women definitely need more carbohydrates than men and shouldn’t go too low for too long.
This has worked out well for me. I’m not trying to lose further weight, just trying to improve my body composition by weight training and good diet. So far, so good.