Q: If I eat 100 calories of jelly beans, isn’t that the same as eating 100 calories of another snack like turkey and avocado?
A: There’s a reason why people say “a calorie is a calorie”. In all fairness, a calorie is a calorie in its most simple form.
And for years, it was drilled into our heads that counting calories was the only way to lose weight.
Calories are a measure of the energy generated from food once inside the body, and they abide by a simple law of physics: energy in minus energy out equals weight loss or gain.
This is true both in a test-tube and in tightly controlled weight loss experiments, where people are basically locked-up and fed exactly the same number of calories from different types of diets.
Time and again, subjects will lose roughly the same amount of weight, regardless of whether the calories come from low-fat, low-carbs or diets somewhere in between.
However, this is far from the complete story.
The human body is quite complex and there are many factors at play at all times.
Hormones, emotions, cravings and even our social schedule influence the amount of calories we consume and how our body processes them.
So, I’m going to explain why 100 calories of jelly beans is not the same as 100 calories of fresh turkey and a slice of avocado. Stay with me.
If all calories were created equal, many of us would choose to live in a land of gummy bears and swedish fish. But food isn’t made up of calories alone.
Let’s go back to those jelly beans.
The only nutrient jelly beans provide is sugar. Sugar does nothing good for our bodies and actually does whole lot of harm!
During digestion, sugary treats stimulate the hormone insulin to be released. Insulin is good in the way that it helps cells uptake nutrients we eat, but it also inhibits the breakdown of fat and encourages the creation of it when we take in those excess calories.
Translation: if we don’t need those jelly bean calories they’ll be turned to fat- fast!
This spike in insulin and blood sugar also causes us to feel hungrier sooner, which likely means our hand goes right back into the candy bag and pops another 100 calories in our mouth before we’ve had time to even think about it.
And the last nail in the coffin (pun intended) for living on calories from sugar alone, is that we will actually die from it. Seriously… sugar alone would eventually kill us. We need nutrients, vitamins, and phytonutrients that real whole foods provide to fuel all bodily processes.
Now, a portion of turkey and avocado can also provide the body with 100 calories. But, these calories are loaded with protein, fiber, healthy fats, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and many other vitamins and minerals our bodies needs to perform at an optimum level of health.
These nutrients help with body processes from building muscle to improving energy to boosting the immune system to helping prevent cancer, heart disease and a whole host of other benefits.
Guess what else these calories do for us? They help to keep you satisfied and full – so we aren’t as likely to go back for seconds – and they keep fat storage hormones in check.
By helping to control blood sugar, our insulin release is more stable and we release less fat storage hormones.
So the important takeaway is to watch your total calorie intake, but most important is to eat whole, real unprocessed foods. And, don’t forget to read the ingredient list of any packaged foods you do eat to get the full nutritional picture.
Jelly beans can never replace the nutritional benefits provided by consuming whole, real foods – even if you eat the same amount of calories.
Alas, a calorie is not a calorie!
What Yo Yo Dieting Actually Does To Your Body
Yo yo dieting sounds something like this:
“I want to be 130 pounds by bikini season.”
“I want to wear my size 4 dress to the bridal shower in 3 weeks.”
“I don’t get rid of the size small belt because I know it will fit when I get back to working out eventually.”
All of these quotes come from actual clients of mine, but chances are they sound awfully familiar to you or someone you know.
You work hard to lose weight, only to find it creep back on with a few extra pounds to boot, to then again buckle down to lose again, gain again, lose again, gain again.
You have your fat jeans and your skinny jeans, you have your handy rice cake and boiled chicken repertoire constantly on standby, and you’ve bookmarked all your favorite Drop Weight Fast workouts on your laptop so they’re there when it’s time to get serious.
You’re a pro at this.
Now here you are trying to figure out how to lose weight, yet again.
But, honestly, between weekend pizza you can’t seem to nix and the bag of candy that speaks to you everyday at 3pm, you’re exhausted from constantly having to choose whether or not to deprive yourself – eat it, don’t eat it, eat just a little, skip it altogether, ok have a bite, cut a whole piece, no wait a sliver, maybe if you eat it fast enough with your eyes closed it won’t count, keep it out of sight because if it’s in your eyesight it’ll disappear into your belly, ugh you can’t believe you ate that, ugh your pants are too snug…
You already know how losing and gaining weight messes with your head, but do you know how yo yo dieting really messes with your body?
Whoa, hormones. Yo yo dieting, including severe calorie restriction and dramatic dietary changes can increase the hormone cortisol, wreaking havoc on your health.
It increases your risk of developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
There’s tons of evidence that people who live the longest are those who are constantly eating slightly less than they need to be satisfied and maintaining a low body weight for their height.
This is, in part, due to hormones being optimized. If you restrict your calories too severely, hormones don’t work as efficiently and your overall health becomes compromised.
Nutrient deficiencies pop up and you may end up with dry skin, brittle hair and nails and a crappy immune system.
The bottom line is that dropping too many calories messes with your hormones, which messes with your health.
Metabolic meltdown. So here’s the deal: if you over-restrict your calories, your body responds by slowing down your metabolic rate, or your ability to burn calories.
It also causes muscle loss.
Yo yo dieting doesn’t appear to permanently ruin metabolism, but the process of losing muscle (which is what your body uses for fuel when there isn’t enough calories from food coming in) is never anyone’s goal.
You need your lean body mass to support your bones, keep you fit, strong and burning calories, so don’t compromise it by breaking it down to use for fuel!
Here’s a new way of thinking: don’t exercise to lose weight, exercise to maintain your lean body mass (which helps with weight loss) and to keep your brain focused on your fitness.
The more fit you feel, the more motivated you’ll be to skip dessert.
Eliminate eliminating. Extreme weight loss is hard on your brain, heart, liver and kidneys. These vital organs need carbs and calories to do their jobs, and without enough nutrition, they’re at risk for damage.
Severely decreased calories can also cause nutrient deficiencies, which in prolonged states can damage bones, skin and immune functioning.
Bottom line, reducing carbs and calories is fine. Cutting them out completely is not. If you eliminate a whole food group entirely, you’ll end up back on the whole yo yo dieting cycle again, guaranteed.
Say no no to yo yo. Rather than embarking on a ridiculous 1000 calories a day diet or ditching all carbs for good, solid research promotes eating a little less of everything at every meal and snack in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Learning to feel ‘satisfied’ instead of ‘full’ is key to ending that up and down cycle.
It’s easier said than done, but, it can be done. Be focused, consistent and patient.
The Fastest Way to Lose Weight This Week
You’re searching high and low for the fastest way to lose weight this week. You’re in a panic. You’re stressing. You’re kicking yourself for eating pizza over the weekend and missing your Sunday morning hot yoga class because you were hungover.
Whether it’s for a date with the hot new guy at the office (our lips are sealed), your best friend’s birthday bash in Vegas, that tropical vacation you’ve been waiting on for months, or you just want to jumpstart your weight loss plan, you need to drop a few pounds stat.
We’ve all been there.
If you want to look amazing in your LBD but the zipper is wayyyy tight and your favorite jeans aren’t sit-downable at the moment, read on for the fastest way to lose weight in a jiffy.
And no, starving yourself is not the answer.
Eat real food. Often. Stop worrying about what extreme diet you need to start, stop counting calories and start thinking about the real food you’re going to eat.
Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and at least one snack a day (no skipping meals!) consisting of whole, real foods.
I’m talking loads of veggies, lean protein such as grass fed steak, chicken, fish and eggs and healthy fats as in cashews, pecans, olives, avocado and coconut. Ditch the packaged and processed foods – especially anything that includes added sugar.
If you need an exact plan, I’ve got you covered here.
Begin your day with breakfast and eat every few hours or when you feel slightly hungry and stop when you feel slightly satisfied. Not sure what that feels like? Check out this hack.
Eating real food combined with listening to your body is your new winning combo.
Fact: Eating real food makes you feel better and that alone can make you look better. If you’re skimping on nutrients or need a way to boost your protein check out our Nutritious Life developed green powder and vegan protein powder. It’s the fastest way to up your nutrition game.
Get 45 minutes of movement in – every day this week. I’m a fan of mixing up exercise and getting in HIIT workouts one day, long bouts of cardio or a hike on another and pilates and yoga on other days.
But, most of all I’m a fan of being consistent with exercising and moving, in whatever way, shape or form makes you feel your best.
The fastest way to lose weight means sticking with whatever movement makes you feel good. When you feel good you’re more likely to be consistent. Also, when you feel you good, you eat well and you sleep well which, guess what…helps you eat well again. This is what a Nutritious Life is all about.
This week, I want you focused on being consistent with your exercise and doing it daily. You don’t even need to hit a gym to get it in, here’s a quickie workout I do just about anywhere.
5 mile run sound good? Do it. Spin class right up your alley? Get that in. Hike in the hills all you want to do? Go for it.
Fact: Yes, you’ll shed pounds by burning calories when you exercise, but exercising also increases blood flow which helps with circulation and gives your skin a healthy glow. Exercise can also help reduce stress which will help you sleep better, both of which are needed to calm your nerves.
Aim for 8 hours a night, settle for no less than 7. For some reason sleep is still one of those things that we give up to fit everything else into our busy schedules.
Many of us still feel like we should get a gold star when we triumphantly go without sleep to log more hours at a bar chatting it up with friends or burning the midnight oil at our desk. Unfortunately, no medals awarded here.
Sleep should be a top priority. It’s right up there with what we put into our bodies, especially when we want to be looking and feeling our best.
This week practice good sleep hygiene by picking a bed time and sticking to it and allowing yourself 15 minutes of winding down time before your head hits the pillow.
Fact: They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing. While we sleep, our body’s natural antioxidant melatonin, a sleep hormone, fights off free radical invaders. If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, you’re reducing the amount of time that melatonin gets to fight off wrinkles and those bags under your eyes will only get worse.
By getting enough sleep at night, you not only look and feel well-rested, but your immune system will be strengthened.
Drink 8 glasses of water and 2 cups of green tea a day. For two days before your special occasion, drink a cup of dandelion root tea as well. Trust me, this one is important. Being properly hydrated is linked to metabolism, energy and skin health.
Fact: Sounds counterintuitive, right? But by drinking water throughout the day, you reduce bloating, flush out toxins, hydrate your skin to achieve a healthy glow, and keep your digestive organs in good working order.
Green tea has been shown to boost metabolism and dandelion tea will help flush you out, further reducing toxins and any bloating.
Cleanse! No time or money to book that expensive facial? Have no fear, your DIY cleanser is here.
Give this easy homemade cleanser and mask a try and you’ll almost be able to feel the antioxidants and nutrients seep into your skin making it soft, smooth, and younger looking. Don’t forget to moisturize twice daily.
Pink Dairy Cleanser: Each day this week, use this quick and easy cleanser by mixing 2 teaspoons milk, 2 teaspoons pink grapefruit juice with pulp, and 2 teaspoons Greek plain yogurt or sour cream until smooth.
Soothing Green and White Mask: 7 days and 4 days before the big day puree ¼ can white beans and 5 cucumber slices in a food processor until smooth. Gently massage the mask onto your face and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing off.
Fact: Pink Dairy Cleanser – the yogurt will gently exfoliate and stimulate collagen, to help firm your skin. The pink grapefruit will protect your skin from sun damage and the formation of free radicals. Soothing Green and White Mask – This refreshing mask will help sooth redness and inflammation and leave your skin feeling serene.