Bariatric Diet; The Calorie Counting Myth
As you make your way through your weight loss journey following bariatric surgery you will encounter an overwhelming amount of dieting advice. The trick is being able to figure out what advice is truthful and what information is not. One of the most popular myths that are an unreliable dieting strategy is counting calories.
Calories are a measure of how much energy a food contains. The dieting advice sham is that eating fewer calories equals weight loss and vice-versa. Sounds simple right? You should know by now though that weight loss isn’t as simple as that. Calories are just a small piece of the dieting puzzle and solely focusing on them is not a recipe for sustained weight loss and health.
In our previous bariatric dieting blog, we emphasized the importance of a balanced diet containing complex carbohydrates, good fats, and lean proteins. These are examples of good calories that keep you full longer and release hormones that tell your body to burn fat. There are foods and beverages that contain bad calories that may appear to be low in calories but will lead to weight gain. Bad calories can come from processed foods, unnatural sugars, and refined grains (think frozen/ packaged meals, soda, chips, white bread, etc.) These foods can be modified to be low in calories but lack the nutrition our body needs. They often contain chemicals that stimulate our appetite and make us want more of them. We burn through them quicker causing us to be hungry sooner which leads to overeating. These bad calories also trigger our body to store fat and slow our metabolisms by spiking blood sugar and insulin levels.
A great example is to compare a hand full of trail mix containing nuts and raisins (no, not the kind with chocolate and salt, sorry!) vs. a few “low-calorie cookies”. On paper, the trail mix may appear to be higher in calories and if we believed the calorie counting myth, we would choose the cookies. In reality, when we eat the trail mix our body is receiving complex carbs and good fats that keep us full and satisfied longer while triggering our body to burn fat. When we eat the cookies, we find ourselves hungry again soon. These cookies will also make the body store fat, slow the metabolism, and have those unnatural chemicals that make us crave more cookies. Looking at the bigger picture, the correct choice of a snack is the higher calorie trail mix!
Focusing your dieting efforts on nutritious, balanced foods rather than counting calories is the best way to maintain a healthy appetite and metabolism. That isn’t an open ticket to pig out on those good calories though, you need to remember to eat smaller portions and spread the portions out throughout the day for the best weight loss results. For bariatric patients, a healthy diet, quality supplements, and physical fitness routine will be the best way to achieve long-term, healthy, and sustainable weight loss. Now stop counting those calories and focus on nutritious meals!