Volume 9, Issue 3

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Page 14 | Abby's Magazine | My mother has been a dieter for most of my life. Over the years she has tried every diet imaginable in order to manage her weight – including one that involved ea ng mostly pineapples! But I was completely surprised when she recently asked me a simple, yet crucial ques on. "Ka e (Mom calls me Ka e), you know how they say you should only eat a certain number of calories per day to lose weight?" "Yes, what about it?" "Well," my mom con nued, "does it ma er what those calories are made of?" I was stunned. Mom, how did you miss that memo? Food Shapes Our Metabolism You can't discuss weight loss for very long before someone pipes up with, "losing weight is simply a ma er of ea ng less and exercising more". Rest assured, the person who says this has probably never struggled to lose weight. Calories in versus calories out was the golden weight loss rule for decades. It is based on the no on that if you burn more energy than you take in you can expect to lose weight, and vice versa. But the concept is oversimplified. The foods we ingest do more than provide energy (calories). Food also shapes our metabolism. Different foods trigger the release of hormones that will dial our fat storage up or down. Simply coun ng calories ignores this effect. Macronutrients We hear a lot less about calories these days, and lot more about carbs, protein, and fat. These are macronutrients, "macros" for short. They, along with dietary fiber, are the building blocks of food. Carbohydrates and proteins each provide roughly 4 calories per gram. Fat delivers 9 calories per gram. This is one reason why fat was villainized for decades. But fat does more than provide calories. Fat fills you up, leading to a feeling of fullness or sa ety that can last hours longer than quickly digested carbohydrates. Conversely, food high in refined carbohydrates will cause insulin to spike, which encourages the body to store fat. Protein, fat, and fiber tend to have the opposite effect, or at least they don't s mulate as much fat-storing insulin produc on. The currently popular low carb, high fat (LCHF) and ketogenic diets mostly avoid calories in favor of minimizing insulin levels. Even with rela vely high caloric intake from plenty of fat, most people lose weight following these types of ea ng plans. The Great Calorie Caveat Calories on a label or in a chart don't accurately account for the energy we absorb from our food. Calories calculated – in a laboratory crucible – do not reflect what happens in the human body. For example, the measured caloric value of coarse and fine ground flour is the same, however studies in people show we absorb more calories from finely ground flour. This is a major caveat to consuming a diet based on coun ng calories. Coun ng Macros Considering switching to Team Macro in the weight loss game? The amount of protein, fat, and carbs you should be ea ng depends on your goals. A popular macro ra o for weight loss is a diet that's roughly 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat. Carbohydrate intake is typically higher for athletes, and lower for people following a ketogenic diet. To turn those percentages into countable grams, we need to call on our old friend, calories. For easy math, let's say your daily caloric intake should be 2000. Carbs: 4 calories per gram 30% of 2,000 calories = 600 calories of carbs per day Total grams of carbs allowed per day = 600/4 = 150 grams REALLY COUNT? By Kate Rheaume, ND Do Calories

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