Calories in and calories out.
We have been told that the balance between these two is the key to weight loss for a long time.Â Burn more calories than you eat and you will lose weight.Â Eat more than you burn, then squeezing into your tight jeans is going to get a bit harder.
Just cut 500 calories a day and you will lose 2 pounds a week.Wow!Â How easy could that be?Â Start cutting those 500 calories a day on July 3rd this year and you will be down 50 pounds by Christmas!
How simple is that?
But we all know itâ€™s not going to work out that way.Â While itâ€™s true that calories in and calories out determine weight loss (there is no percentage in arguing with the First Law of Thermodynamics), the issue is that tracking calories doesnâ€™t work for the majority of people.
Let us explain why.
Tracking Calories = Foolâ€™s Gold
Itâ€™s time to give up on the idea that counting every calorie helps most people lose weight.Â But itâ€™s not going to be an easy change.Â Calorie counting is right up there on the â€œGenerally thought to be true, but isnâ€™t.â€ list just like a â€œlow fat dietâ€ being the healthiest diet used to be.
The truth is that even we have been believers in the calorie tracking method. Â After all, itâ€™s what weâ€™ve all been taught since forever. When we first saw the great new apps for tracking calories like Lose It and My Fitness Pal, we thought they would revolutionize weight loss.Â And they have worked for some people, but most of our patients were right back where they started 3 or 6 or 12 months later.
What went wrong?Â Why are most people not losing weight and keeping it off using these well-designed, user-friendly apps?Â Â We started asking our patients and it turned out that there are several reasons why they werenâ€™t working.Â A big one was that people had a hard time sticking with it.Â Tracking every calorie only works if you, wellâ€¦..track every calorie.Â You have seen this, or maybe experienced it yourself.Â Initially there is a lot of ambition and enthusiasm, but eventually life catches up.Â Â You get busy and skip a few meals.Â Next thing you know, you havenâ€™t documented your food intake in months.Â Congratulations to those that are compulsive enough to stick with it for more than a month or two, but for the rest of us mere mortals, it sounds good in theory, but doesnâ€™t really work out in real life.
Why Counting Calories Doesnâ€™t Work for Weight Loss
Not being able to stick with it is an important reason that tracking calories doesnâ€™t work out for most people, but the biggest reason is because all calories are NOT the same(at least when it comes to weight gain and loss). While it is true that all calories that you eat are treated the same by your body (either burned as fuel or stored as fat), what is also true when it comes to weight loss is how those calories impact your sense of hunger and fullness.Â For example, if you eat 500 calories for lunch that fills you up, you will eat less throughout the rest of the day.Â However, if those same 500 calories donâ€™t give you the same sense of fullness, you will likely eat more as the day unfolds.
That some foods may do a better job of filling you up for the same calories is not a new concept.Â We know from past studies that some high calorie foods are associated with weight loss (nuts) while others are associated with weight gain (potato chips), but some new data may show us why.Â Â A recent research paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23280226 (this is the hyperlink for the article)shows us that different foods have different effects on blood flow to the areas of our brain that determine how full we feel and provides further evidence that all calories are NOT the same.
Previous research has found that fructose (as compared to the same amount of calories of other sugars) leads to increased feeding and weight gain in rats.Â This raised the question of whether fructose intake in humans (important since high fructose corn syrup is an ingredient in many processed foods) could have the same effect (weight gain and increased feeding) in humans.Â Â More recently, researchers at Yale studied blood flow to the parts of the brain that control hunger and fullness in response to 2 different sugars, glucose or fructose.
What the Yale group found is that the brain did react differently to fructose consumption.Â The research subjects that had fructose felt less full and hungrier than when they were given the same number of calories of glucose.
If Calorie Counting Doesnâ€™t Work for Weight Loss, What Does?
We have been in practice for over 35 years between us and have seen a lot of patients succeed at long term weight loss and even more that have failed.Â What we have discovered from our conversations with these patients is that there are 2 primary determinants of those who successfully lost weight.Â First, they were physically active.Â Not gym rats necessarily, but regularly active (usually walking).Â The other was that they ate real food.Â Most of them didnâ€™t diet (restrict calories), but just changed to eating healthier foods.Â Whether they did it on the Mediterranean diet, Plant based diet, Paleo diet or even on their own diet, the common theme was little processed foods(and therefore little high fructose corn syrup).
So thatâ€™s the secret in a nutshell.Â Eat real food.Â Youâ€™ll be healthier, you will feel better and you will discover that real food is delicious.
Oh yeah, youâ€™ll weigh less too!
[box]Dr. R. Todd Hurst, MD is a board certified cardiologist and Dr. Lisa Hurst, MD is a board certified internist. Â They foundedÂ Achieve-Life,Â aÂ healthy, permanent weight loss program, after years of watching fad diets fail their patients.Â They’ve developed tools and resources that can guarantee your weight loss and now off you the opportunity toÂ tryÂ the differenceÂ for free!Â We share your excitement of FINALLY having the tools you need to achieve your weight loss goals![/box]