Calories in Calories out Debunked

The popular theory for weight loss for many years has been the calories in calories out theory. This theory relies on the assumption that everyone who is overweight is a glutton and or a sloth! This is clearly not true but it does certainly does go a long way to explaining the shame that people with weight issues often feel!

Different Types of Food Affect Your Genes

Food is nourishment, food is information, the food that you choose to consume signals you’re DNA; affecting your gene expression. Yes, it can turn on or off genes! Many assume that a gene is a gene and you can’t change it but it’s simply not true, you can’t change the genes that you were born with but many of them can be switched on or off depending on lifestyle factors, including food.

The content of the food is way more important than calories. We put foods into 2 main categories. Nutrient Foods and Anti-Nutrient Foods. Nutrient foods nourish and support your body to function well, balance your blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and regulate your hormones. Anti-nutrient foods are often hard to digest, contain little to no nutrients and can be hard work for your body to try to digest. Your body may need to use extra resources and energy to try to deal with a “food” and you end up losing valuable nutrients especially minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium in your body’s effort to deal with this “food”. This causes inflammation and can put stress on your digestive system and your liver and leave you nutrient deficient and feeling drained.

Did you know that what you eat either manages or messes with your hormones! Eating a meal/snack that is is high in sugar/carbohydrate and low in fat messes with your hunger hormones; effectively stopping you from feeling satisfied and making you feel hungry!

Below is an example of this with two different snacks. Shack 1 (nutrient) contains good quality natural fat and protein that will help you to feel full, is much lower in sugar/carbohydrate. It contains good bacteria, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It will nourish your body and give you energy and vitality.

Anti Nutrients

Snack 2 (anti-nutrient) contains very high sugar/carbohydrate, 3.8 tablespoons of added sugar (The World Health Organisation recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for adults to maintain good health). It is likely to contain margarine or vegetable oil, both of which are inflammatory to the body. This snack will drive your blood sugar levels up, requiring your body to make lots of insulin, promoting inflammation and weight gain. A high sugar meal also drops your immune system for several hours after consuming it. This snack would have very minimal vitamins and minerals and would be likely to leave you feeling bloated and tired.

Recently a documentary called That Sugar Film by Damon Gameau showed that you can gain or lose weight eating the same amount of calories by changing the type of food you eat. In his 60 day experiment, Damon ate 40 teaspoons of sugar per day (which is what an average Australian is reported to eat); he ate no junk food such as soft drinks, chocolate or lollies, he got these 40 teaspoons from so called healthy foods (cereal, juice, muesli bars and yoghurt etc). By day 18 he had developed non alcoholic fatty liver disease and an unstable mood, by the end he had gained 8.5kg, 7% body fat and 10cm around his waist! When his diet went back his normal diet of healthy fats, protein and fruits and vegetables, his weight and health went back to normal. During and after this experiment he didn’t change the amount of calories he ate or his level of exercise he only changed his food choices.

It is time to start looking at the food itself. Your body continually makes new cells replacing the old (using nutrients provided in your diet). You really are what you eat so forget obsessing over calories and focus on the quality of your food – nourish yourself!

Rebecca Dixon and Fiona Kane

Clinical Nutritionists

Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre

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