Q: “What about all those protein shakes, health bars, and all-natural snacks I see in the grocery stores? Won’t those help me lose weight and keep me under my calorie targets?”
This is a question our coaches get all the time. We know it can be confusing to know what to eat when you’re trying to lose weight. Let’s break this question down and learn more about why it’s better to count nutrients, not calories.
“All Natural” Usually Means Added Sugar
While diet foods have come a long way, even the healthier, all-natural options leave a lot to be desired. Often these options rely on added sugars like maple syrup, dates, and agave to make their foods more palatable. While the source of these sugars may come from less processed sources, the impact they have on our body is the same.
More Sugar Leads to More Stored Fat
Our body’s metabolism is a smart system that moderates our energy use and storage. When we consume foods made of simple sugars, irrespective of the source, those sugars are easily absorbed into the bloodstream causing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). To protect against damage, our pancreas triggers the release of the hormone insulin to remove sugar from our bloodstream. Insulin converts this excess sugar to body fat and stores it in our cells, muscles, and liver.
High Protein Can Lead to Higher Insulin
While high-protein shakes and processed snacks have really surged in popularity, they don’t always support your weight loss goals. While protein can have a blood-sugar stabilizing effect, too much protein consumption, especially from easily absorbable sources, can actually increase insulin secretion. This is great if you’ve just worked out and need sugar to help you build muscle but can have a detrimental effect if you are already on your way to being insulin resistant or pre-diabetic.
Count Nutrients, Not Calories
While it’s true that you need to consume less energy than you burn for weight loss, science shows that for long-term success, it’s more important to consider what you eat than simply how much.
Our metabolism is a smart system designed to keep us thriving. When we give our bodies what we need – nutritious, whole foods, fiber, and water – we enable our bodies to slow digestion and absorb nutrients effectively. This triggers our body to release the hormone leptin, which signals to our brain that we’re full and satisfied. This keeps our hunger down, leading to fewer cravings, more stabilized blood sugar, and greater weight loss in the long run.
In contrast, eating low-calorie, higher-sugar foods puts us on an endless cycle of dopamine that keeps our cravings high without giving our body the nutrients it needs. Ultimately, these foods are likely to have us eating more, consuming more sugar, and storing more body fat.
In summary: Eating whole, unprocessed food is the best way to work with our body’s metabolism, keeping us feeling full, nourished, and satisfied. Studies have shown this is the best way to long-term, sustainable weight loss. No calorie counting required.
Looking for more answers to your food and weight loss questions? The plantable 28-day Reboot program comes with up to 3 months of free, unlimited access to our certified health coaches. Find out more about how the 28-Day Reboot and our coaches can support you in reaching your weight loss goals
National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3393628/