5 Tricks to Make Every Calorie Go Further
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One of the most pervasive myths about nutrition states that “a calorie is a calorie”. It’s true in so far as a dietary calorie always contains 4184 Joules of energy. But when it comes to the way your body reacts when you eat different foods, it’s a different story.
The foods we consume have a major effect on the hormones and brain centres that control our appetite and eating behaviours. Some foods have beneficial effects, some detrimental.
In addition, different foods go through different biochemical pathways – some of which are more efficient than others.
This is all ignoring the obvious fact that a calorie from a doughnut is accompanied by far fewer health-giving micronutrients than a calorie from kale.
These points explain why many people don’t get the results they are looking for through calorie-controlled diets; and why so many experience frustration and hunger – and sometimes even unhealthy food choices.
The ideal that we strive for is to eliminate dieting. The aim is not to lead a restricted life, but one of good health. This is why the foci of ReShape coaching is on improving knowledge, changing habits, and developing a greater connection with the body. A healthy bodyweight is just a small part of what we stand to gain by taking this approach.
Whether you are on a calorie-controlled diet or not, there are some simple tricks you can use to ensure that you get as much value from the foods you eat as possible. Here are 5 of them…
-Eat Foods That Fill You
Eating 500 calories from ice cream or a chocolate bar is much easier than 500 calories from broccoli or eggs. Different foods have different effects on satiety. This is measured on a scale called the Satiety Index. Foods that are high up – more filling – include vegetables, beans, eggs, and beef.
-Go Low G.I.
The Glycemic Index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar. The speed at which carbohydrate calories hit the system can have a dramatic effect on their potential to cause weight gain and over eating (as well as increasing the likelihood of developing diabetes). As a general rule, stay away from processed or refined products (including breads) and enjoy foods low on the glycemic index. Examples of low GI foods include lentils, beans, nuts and seeds, full fat unsweetened yogurt, and most vegetables except potatoes and parsnips.
-Eat More Protein
Protein is by far the most fulfilling macronutrient – you can reduce your appetite simply by increasing the proportion of protein foods you eat. Further than this, the metabolic pathways used for protein are less efficient than those used for carbs and fats – meaning that proteins take more energy for the body to metabolise. Whole foods also take more energy to digest than processed foods. High protein foods include meats, eggs, cheese, nuts, and some grains (good gluten-free examples include buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth).
-Go Full Fat
The low-calorie diet logic dictates that because fats offer 9 calories per gram while proteins and carbs both offer 4 calories, you will cut a whole lot of calories by cutting dietary fats. In fact, this approach can be very damaging to weightloss efforts. When fats are cut (from your meals, or in the case of low fat food products), more often than not they are replaced by carbs, which can increase appetite and can lead to increased body fat. Further, dietary fats are essential for the production of hormones that help maintain healthy body weight (and good health generally). Aim to include good quality cold-pressed oils, oily fish (not farmed), avocados, nuts, and seeds.
-Watch Out For Fructose
In aiming for low GI foods, you won't be eating sugary foods. It is however worth making a special point around fructose. Fructose can only be metabolised in the liver – and in small amounts and it offers little satiety. Fructose is often used in packaged products because it's cheap, sweet, and can be presented as a healthy "natural" sweetener. Of course, juices and smoothies are very high in fructose too. Whole fruits are ok because the fructose is accompanied by fibre, water and chewing – but it is best to limit fruit intake to 2 pieces a day or there abouts.
Article written by Joe Summerfield