You have probably heard or read that consuming excessive amounts of food can increase your waistline and cause you to gain weight. But what if I tell you that consuming too many calories can actually help you lose weight? Sound paradoxical?
As a nutritionist, I get asked this question all the time. And to be honest, it’s a tough one to answer. There are many different considerations when answering this question. Let’s look at them.
Does It Matter Whether The Food Is Calorie-Dense Or Calorie-Light?
Have you ever tried to lose weight by cutting down on the food you eat? If so, you probably noticed that the moment you deprive yourself of a few calories, your body starts a counter-attack and starts storing calories as fat. That’s why most diets fail.
On the other hand, when you replace food that is high in calories with food that is low in calories, you are likely to feel fuller for longer. That means that you will be less tempted to eat the foods that are usually high in calories and you will have more control over your weight. So, it matters whether the food is calorie-dense or calorie-light. The dieter’s dilemma.
How About Protein?
Let’s say that I want to lose weight. Should I focus on reducing the amount of carbohydrates that I consume or should I focus on increasing the amount of protein that I consume?
The short answer is: it depends. Let’s say that we have a pound of raw meat for lunch. It contains 0.5 grams of carbohydrates and 23 grams of protein. Weighing scales are not accurate, but close enough to give us the idea. Let’s say that I choose to have the protein-rich food. First, my stomach starts rumbling. Then I reach for the food. After I eat it, I start to notice a change in my body. I feel a bit fuller and my clothes start fitting better.
Now, if I want to lose weight, I should probably eat less meat. After all, less meat means fewer calories, and fewer calories means I will lose weight. The problem is that after I cut back on meat, my body starts craving it. That’s because the protein that I deprived it of was needed for growth and repair. That means my body will start storing any additional protein as fat.
Now, that’s a problem because my body doesn’t need to store any additional fat. What if we continue down this road and choose to have chicken instead of the raw meat? Same difference. My body starts storing the chicken as fat because it doesn’t have the protein to use for muscle growth and repair. This is why, if you are serious about losing weight, you should focus on eating more protein-rich foods and less fat-rich foods.
The take away from this example is that it depends on your goals whether you want to reduce the amount of carbs you eat or you want to increase your protein intake. You see, your body doesn’t store calories itself. It stores nutrients that it needs for growth and repair. So, if you deprive it of nutrients, your body will start storing calories as a defense mechanism. This is called a malnutrition strike.
How About The Fat Content?
Another important factor to consider when talking about calories is the fat content of the food. In general, the greater the fat content, the greater the calories. The reason is simple. Fat is an essential part of a cell’s structure. It helps form cell membranes and it provides energy to the cell. That’s why most fats are calorie-rich.
Now, some fats are more calorie-rich than others. Let’s say that I want to lose weight. Should I choose a low-fat diet or a high-fat diet to achieve my goals?
If you are talking about avoiding heart disease, you should choose a low-fat diet. That’s because a diet high in fats can increase your cholesterol levels. And to reduce your cholesterol levels, you have to eliminate certain foods from your diet, such as eggs and milk. So, if you have heart disease or metabolic syndrome, a diet low in fats can help improve your condition. But for those of us who don’t have heart disease or metabolic syndrome, a diet high in fats can provide extra calories that we need to shed off those extra pounds.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, let’s say that I want to gain weight. Should I choose a high-fat diet or a low-fat diet to achieve my goals?
If you are talking about avoiding heart disease, you should choose a high-fat diet. That’s because a diet high in fats can decrease your cholesterol levels, which in turn can reduce your risk of heart disease. It can also provide energy for your body’s various functions, such as breathing and digestion. This is why most athletes, bodybuilders, and people who perform intense physical activity usually consume more fat than the average person.
Now, if you have heart disease or metabolic syndrome, you should probably avoid a diet high in fats because it will increase your cholesterol levels. But for those of us who don’t have heart disease or metabolic syndrome, we can benefit from eating some fats. Especially good fats, like olives and avocados, which provide essential nutrients while also adding some calories to our diets.
What About The Sugar Content?
Just like we talked about the fat content of the food, the sugar content is also important to consider when talking about calories. The reason is simple. Sugar is essentially fat with no nutritional value. So, in terms of calories, sugar has no value at all. This is why most diets high in sugar are also high in calories. This also means that sugar can cause you to gain weight, just like any other food that is high in calories. But the difference is that when your body stores sugar, it stores it as fat.
If you want to reduce your waistline, you should choose a diet low in sugar. This is because consuming sugar can cause your body to produce more insulin, which in turn can lead to insulin resistance. The more you consume, the more your body will resist the effects of insulin, creating a vicious cycle. This is called the sugar bomb phenomenon. Your body will always fight to keep the sugar it consumes in check, causing you to crave it even more. This is why you should always avoid food with high sugar content if you are trying to lose weight.
The bottom line is this. Eating more calories than you need can increase your waistline and cause you to gain weight. This is especially true if you consume more calories than you need from carbohydrates and proteins. But if you consume more calories than you need from fat and carbs, your body will start storing calories as fat. This is why if you are serious about losing weight, you should focus on reducing the amount of carbs you eat and increase your protein intake. The way to do this is by consuming less food and more water. You can start by cutting out sugars and refined carbs from your diet, which will reduce your cravings for these foods and allow you to lose weight without risk of becoming malnourished. Now, if we look at what we talked about in the beginning of this article, it should come as no surprise that eating too many calories will increase your waistline. And here’s another important point to make. If you want to reduce your waistline, it’s best not to rely on dieting alone.
Say that I want to lose weight. Should I do it with a keto diet, which is high in fats and low in sugars, or should I try a paleo diet, which is high in protein and low in fats and carbohydrates? Which one should I choose and why?