Are you one of those people who base their eating habits on the number of calories consumed during the day? Whatever your answer might be, I will explain to you why counting calories is overrated. Eating can be easier than you think.
If you answered yes to the previous question I don’t blame you. For some reason a lot of diets shown in the market are based on calorie consumption, and why? Because…
Calories are the measurement to calculate the energy in our body.
Making eating easy
We tend to believe that we need a certain amount of energy in our body to survive. It’s recommended to consume for a woman between 1600 and 2000 calories per day, and for a man between 2000 to 3000 calories.
But we also need to consider the person’s biodiversity, meaning the age, sex, weight, height, environment, level of physical activity and daily routine. Therefore the calorie intake varies a lot.
For example. A man that works from 5-9 at an office desk, will consume different amounts of energy compared to a guy that works in construction, who is in constant movement and uses strength often.
We aim to make eating an easy task since we need to do it several times a day and keeping the count can be difficult.
Therefore we won’t focus on counting calories, but in considering the nutrients we obtain from the food we eat.
Types of carbohydrates and Insulin Effect
The main sources to obtain calories in our body are fats, proteins, carbohydrates and sugars. They help the organism to live and function. All of them, even when we mainly focus only on the number of carbohydrates and sugars we consume.
Some of the main functions of carbohydrates are to produce and store energy in the body.
Did you know that foods have different types of carbohydrates? Yes, they do, processed carbs and unprocessed carbs.
The processed ones are the ones already converted into powder such as flour (which comes from wheat) and sugar (from cane or beets for example). The unprocessed carbs are naturally on fruits and vegetables.
Depending on which ones we consume, is the way they will be absorbed in our body.
Which brings us to the insulin effect. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to process the sugar or glucose from the carbohydrates and convert them into energy.
In the iThrive docu-series about diabetes and obesity, Dr. Jason Fung from the Intensive Dietary Management Program stated in his interview that the insulin effect depends on two things:
- The processing
- The frequency of eating
The processing of carbohydrates depends on the kind of carbs we eat. For example, it’s not the same eating brownies and kale even when they might have the same amount of calories.
The brownies with processed ingredients such as flour and sugar are absorbed easier by the body, even when they are unnatural to it. Provoking the levels of insulin to spike, which might cause type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, kale and other leafy greens contain natural carbohydrates, from which the body absorbs the glucose slowly, therefore the level of insulin is low.
In resume, processed carbs provoke a high insulin effect and unprocessed carbs a low insulin effect in the body.
Eating frequency and Food portions
Nowadays we usually eat 3 times a day, plus a few snacks. As a consequence our body is in constant digestion mode, keeping the body busy, instead of giving it the time to take care of other main functions.
Like everything in life, the eating frequency has to be balanced. We need to balance the feeding and fasting in our routine.
It’s important for the body to have fasting periods during the day in order to continue the digestive process and during the night so the body can cleanse itself. I recommend having a light dinner by 8 pm the latest to fast for at least 8 hours.
Moreover, the food portions in the last two decades have increased tremendously. In fast foods have duplicated and triplicated, including animal protein. And in soft drinks, the increase can go to 6 or 7 times more. Therefore the amount of calories consumed has increased too.
- Are you interested in eating less animal protein? read the post about how to reduce your meat intake and what to eat.)
- If you want to manage your sugar intake, check the tips to reduce sugar intake and the tricks we fall into.
Human beings do not need to eat that much, we just need to eat enough healthy foods to provide the necessary energy to the body to carry out its functions.
Due to the quantity and quality of modern food diets, the amount of carbohydrates accumulated in the body is really high. In the beginning, the body will store it as fat, but when the liver is not able to process the glucose anymore (insulin resistance), the fat will start to store in organs and muscles. Creating illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Therefore we need to be mindful of the kind of carbs we put in our body and not really the quantity. We become addicted to processed food, but not to natural foods. Have you ever thought about that?
Some natural, whole foods contain high-calorie intake, such as bananas, oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potatoes, nuts, and more. And are the ones feeding the body with vitamins, minerals, lots of nutrients and of course providing energy to the body.
Choose wisely the kind of carbohydrates you want to put into your body. The unprocessed ones (mentioned before) are the ones who provide the right energy and nutrients to the body, hence the food portions are smaller than processed foods.
“Eat from the garden, not from the factory”.Jon McMahon
Make your eating habits easy. Instead of counting calories, feed your body with unprocessed carbohydrates that are absorbed slowly, and provide the energy and nutrients the organism needs to carry out its functions.
If we nurture our body properly, we actually consume smaller food portions and we might eat less often.
I hope this post can serve you to understand counting calories it’s a myth.
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