More and more research is disproving the theory that “a calorie is a calorie, regardless of the source.” This is no surprise to many of us, who can tell by anecdotal experience that people who eat really well – and by this I mean whole, natural foods – don’t really have to count their calories to maintain their weight. I couldn’t tell you how many calories I eat each day, and don’t really worry about it. Sounds crazy to you? Read on, my friend.
A study came out about two years ago that followed two groups of people: one who ate a snack of pretzels each day, and one who ate the same calories in the form of nuts for their snack each day. Other than that their diets were the same. Guess what – the nuts group lost weight while the other group did not. Same calories, different result.
Research being conducted right now on added sugars and their effect on the body is even more surprising. Calories that come in the form of added sugars – natural sugar or high-fructose corn syrup – are more likely to be stored as fat. And not just in our fat cells, but also in our liver and muscle cells as well. This causes not only weight gain but leads to diabetes and heart disease as well. Oh, and can contribute to cancer growth.
In fact, this sugar research is one of the few studies that actually influenced the researcher’s behavior. In interviews with many of them, they were pretty adamant about avoiding sugar most of the time.
Now lets be perfectly clear here: the opposite of added sugars is not meat. The opposite of added sugars is no added sugar. And I don’t mean fruits and vegetables – candy bars are a problem, carrots are not.
This is a huge bummer for me, because I love sweets. And I believe that we all need to live and enjoy life. So how do we reconcile these two ideas? Stay healthy vs. enjoy life? Believe it or not, they can go together.
Eliminate the every-day, run-of-the-mill sugar. Choose foods like yogurt and marinara sauce without added sugar. Cut out soda and other sweetened drinks. Switch to water, iced tea, etc. You know how I feel about those artificial sweeteners. 😉 Leave the candy on who-evers desk alone. And the supermarket cookies – they are not doing you any favors.
Then your healthy self can enjoy that slice of birthday cake every now and then. And a piece of fresh peach pie in the middle of August. An occasional restaurant dessert or a homemade brownie. Enjoy the really good stuff once a week, and leave the other stuff alone. It is really hard to cut out sugar but once you get over the hump it loses some of its appeal. Not all, but some.
And the rest of your calories? When you eat mostly whole, natural foods – like nuts – instead of stuff that comes out of a plastic bag and will last through the next ice age – you won’t have to worry so much. Nourish your body with fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, good-quality meats and dairy products, and you won’t have as many sweet cravings. It sounds pie-in-the-sky, but its true.
Then kiss that calorie counter goodbye – you won’t be needing it any more.
If you are one of those people, and you know who you are, who gave me the stink eye when I first suggested this to you, and then you tried it and now you are a believer, please leave a comment! The rest of the world needs to hear from you.