Are All Calories/Macros Created Equal?
By: Tammy Hamilton
Have you heard the term that losing weight is all about “calorie in, calorie out”? Or that if you are overweight it’s because you eat too much or you exercise too little (or both)? And that it’s a simple math calculation as to why you aren’t getting the results you want? That you can still eat Doritos or drink wine several times a week if they fit in your macros (flexible dieting)? Are you currently counting your calories/macros and struggling to get the results you want?
Proper nutrition isn’t a simple math calculation. It has much more to do with science. It is about the biochemistry of the foods we eat and how they are handled and metabolized by the body. When you eat sugar, your body either converts it into energy or into fat (which is then stored in your fat cells).
How your body processes sugar is partially determined by your body’s go-to processing method. As sugar enters your blood stream it goes into your pancreas, which then releases a hormone called insulin – your body’s sugar regulator. The sugar is then stored in your liver, muscles and fat cells. Even though a glazed donut may have the same amount of carbohydrates as a medium apple, your body will metabolize them entirely different. Not only does a donut contain zero nutrients, it contains a dangerous amount of trans fats which are known to trigger inflammation in your body causing you to retain more water, gain weight, drowsiness, skin problems, digestive issues, etc. It is quickly broken down into glucose and fructose which in excess can turn into fat and make you to feel hungry faster.
Too much glucose in your body sends out a distress signal in your body and your pancreas may overproduce insulin and cause low sugar levels (and crashing). Whereas an apple contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fibers. Unlike the donut, the apple will expand in your stomach leaving you feeling fuller longer. The fiber in the apple will prevent the sugar from being rapidly broken down and stored. You may be rolling your eyes saying “duh, we all know that an apple is healthier than a donut” but we have been told a lie that if you can fit it into your “numbers” you can have it. Don’t get me wrong, counting your macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) is a very effective way to achieve the results you want but it’s largely the micronutrients (vitamins/minerals/nutrients/antioxidants that make up our food) that we need to pay more attention to.
We need to eat the right amount of certain types of foods to benefit the most and achieve the results we want. Is it ok to have an occasional treat meal here and there? Of course, but trying to fit them into your everyday nutrition plan because you can fit them into your calorie/macro numbers is not going to give you the results you are looking for. If you are getting away with it now without adverse effects, it’s only a matter of time before you won’t be able to. Just because you can fit it into your macros does not mean that you should! Don’t even get me started on alcohol – that’s a future blog. Therefore, NO, not all calories/macros are created equal. If you are struggling to get the results you want, here is a great place to start:
Eat real whole foods (lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, anything that is NOT processed or comes in a box).
Eat at home as often as possible. You wouldn’t believe hidden ingredients that are in the foods you eat at restaurants.
Drink enough water: my minimum requirement with my nutrition coaching clients is half their body weight in ounces. Stay away from alcohol and sugary drinks as much as possible.
Treat yourself in moderation. Obviously the more strict you are, the greater success you will have. But we are human! You have to determine what is most important – that you get the best results the fastest or you make it work with your lifestyle (in moderation).
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