Are you looking for a low calorie diet? Do you know someone else who’s looking for a low calorie diet? You’ve come to the right place. Not because I’m going to give you tips for a low calorie diet, but because I’m going to give you every reason why you SHOULDN’T even consider being on a low calorie diet. And if you’re already on one, I’m going to encourage you to STOP today so you can have better energy and more vibrant health.
A Low Calorie Diet: Does It Work?
Recently I had a conversation with a friend that started when she told me she had eaten a candy bar on her way home from work one day because she was starving – she hadn’t eaten all day. I responded by telling her that I also keep snacks in my car and purse for when I need a “pick me up.” I told her I often snack on raw nuts and seeds between meals because they are a great source of protein and tend to be a very substantial snack. She responded by saying that she couldn’t eat nuts and seeds because, at least in her opinion, they were way too high in calories.
I responded with a simple explanation of what a calorie really is and she returned a facial expression that let me know she was completely confused.
This is when it hit me. She was counting her calories but had NO idea what a calorie really is. It also hit me that many people are like this – walking around counting their calories while having no idea what a calorie really is or why it is important.
Busting the Calorie Myth
I’m going to explain to you why a low calorie diet and a “calorie counting mentality” (as I like to call it) can actually be harmful to your health.
I know, I know. This sounds ridiculous. How could a low calorie diet possibly be harmful to a person’s health? I mean everyone’s talking about them.
But let’s face it. We aren’t doing something right. While everyone is counting the amount of calories going into their bodies, the collective society continues to get heavier and heavier.
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From the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, more than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese and more than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity. Even more horrifying is the fact that more than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese!
We aren’t doing something right, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put an end to this. I’m ready to take a stand for what I know to be true. Low calorie diets might be the fad, but they aren’t the answer.
I’m ready to be honest with you. I’m going to answer the question, “what is a calorie?” and explain why you DO need calories, and a lot of them!
A Calorie: What is it?
So, what is a calorie? A calorie is simply (drumroll please)…. a unit of energy.
Did you know that? A calorie is nothing more than a unit of energy. That is actually what you’ve been counting all this time – the amount of energy going into your body. And for some reason you believed it was a bad thing!
A calorie is not a bad thing!
You see, in order to achieve real success (and real health), we have to rethink. Rethinking involves unlearning something we were previously taught, and then learning something new.
So I’m asking you right now to unlearn what you’ve previously been taught about calories. Remove any thought from your mind about calories being bad and instead believe me when I say that a calorie is only a unit of energy.
Low calorie diets tend to be low nutrient diets, and limiting our nutrients is not beneficial to the body! When we put food into our mouth, we are not feeding our mouth. In fact, we aren’t even feeding our stomach (or intestines, for that matter). What we are feeding is (another drumroll please)… our cells! We’re feeding those most basic building blocks that make up all of our tissues, organs and systems. Our cells need energy from nutrients to function properly.
When we’re talking about calories, (in my opinion) all foods fit into one of four general categories: (1) low-calorie, low-nutrient foods, (2) low-calorie, high-nutrient foods, (3) high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, and (4) high-calorie, high-nutrient foods.
A person with a “calorie counting mentality” might argue that a person should be eating only low calorie foods: those in categories (1) low-calorie, low-nutrient foods, and (2) low-calorie, high-nutrient foods.
BUT the whole purpose of this blog post is to convince you that a person (including you!) should only be eating high nutrient foods: those in categories (2) low-calorie, high-nutrient foods, and (4) high-calorie, high-nutrient foods.
You see, I’m more concerned with counting the number of nutrients in my food as opposed to the number of calories. I know that I consume a substantial amount of calories, but my body needs them because it needs energy. I could not possibly function without these calories!
I want to give you a real idea of what I’m talking about – I understand you might be feeling confused and overwhelmed by all this new information. Remember, I’m asking you to rethink. I want you to throw out every false belief about calories being bad for you. They aren’t, and here is what I’m talking about.
Examples of High-Calorie Foods:
Below are all the ingredients (as well as calories in each ingredient) that I put in my Moringa Mint Morning Smoothie:
- 335 Total Calories
And here is another great example of a morning breakfast smoothie I used to make often, and still keep in my arsenal! (This smoothie could be split between 2 people, but the point still remains that calories are not something to be avoided or even counted).
- 998 Total Calories
This does not include the Tablespoon of Hemp oil I eat before making my smoothie, which has a whopping 120 calories!
The point I’m trying to get across is that I consume nearly 500 calories before leaving the house (and please note, this is a typical day for me). I regularly drink one of these smoothies (or another very similar) for breakfast. They are a nutritional powerhouse and keep me full and energized for hours. Literally, hours!
These smoothies are made up of both low-calorie, high-nutrient foods (i.e. Aloe Vera Juice) and high-calorie, high-nutrient foods (i.e. raw eggs, Chia seeds, Flax seed oil and full-fat coconut milk). While some of the foods are low-calorie and some are high-calorie, they are all high-nutrient foods! This is what keeps me healthy – counting my nutrients instead of my calories!
Are you following me?
Questions to Ask Yourself:
Instead of asking how many calories you’ve had in a given day, I want to recommend asking a new question: How many nutrients have I had today? I have provided the following list of questions you can choose to ask yourself instead of asking how many calories you’ve had:
- How many servings of vegetables have I had?
- How many servings of fruit have I had?
- How much fiber have I had today?
- How much protein have I had today?
- Have I had healthy fats and oils today?
- Have I eliminated my bowel today?
- Have I eaten foods that support good digestion and gut health?
- Have I gotten an appropriate amount of physical activity today?
- Have I had too much sugar or too many processed foods today?
- Have I had the recommended 8 glasses of water today?
- Have I been sleeping a recommended 7 to 8 hours each night?
All of these things (and more) play a role in our overall health, which includes our weight. If you have a “calorie counting mentality” and it’s just not working for you, I’d stop counting calories and pursue a new method of evaluating your diet – think about counting nutrients instead!
Related Post: How to Get Healthy: The Secret
Remember, low calorie diets tend to be low nutrient diets, and limiting our nutrients is not beneficial to the body! We NEED calories because they provide our cells with energy from the nutrients in our food!
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