One of my favorite aspects of training & coaching is starting with a brand new client. They are always eager to get going & full of questions I love answering. As I do with most clients interested in improving their nutrition, I requested she come in with a few days worth of a detailed food journal. Super helpful for both of us to look through!
I saw what is fairly standard for many who have gone through the Weight Watchers, Atkins or similar dietary protocols:
- Breakfast: Blueberry WW Muffin
- Snack: Atkins Protein Bar
- Lunch: Frozen Microwave Diet Meal
- Snack: Protein Cookie
- Dinner: Plain Salad w/ Bland Chicken & Low Fat Dressing
- Dessert: Diet Ice Cream Bar
Total Calories = 1200
She was super proud to have stayed under the “ideal” 1200 calorie diet yet was frustrated she wasn’t loosing weight. Not to mention was having sugar cravings (hello all the sweet “diet” foods), had low energy, frequent migraines & a general sense of feeling YUCK!
It’s super frustrating to see this approach given so much mainstream media attention. Yet it makes total sense! It’s easy to sell X brand “diet” food or protein muffin or whatever is marketable. It’s hard to brand & sell, say broccoli? LOL
In frustration she bluntly asked me if all calories are created equal? Fair enough. Calories DO count & i’ll never say as long as you just eat “real food” you will always lose weight. I’ve absolutely seen people overdo all the avocado or go NUTS on their portions to create a caloric surplus. BUT I 100% believe that not all calories are created equal. Why?
YOU CAN EASILY BE IN A CALORIC SURPLUS YET BE NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENT.
In fact i’d say that’s MOST people these days. All those diet foods are calorically dense but nutritionally devoid. AKA they lack the needed macronutrients, vitamins, minerals & key components to allow our body to work optimally. Ex: Eating 300 calories of nutritionally dense wild caught salmon IS NOT the same as eating a 300 calorie giant cookie. One has healthy protein, fats, omega 3’s & the other has processed flour & sugar. Salmon will keep you full longer & not trigger blood sugar spikes, sugar cravings & energy lows like said delicious but not so nutritious cookie. Make sense?
While my client totally got what I was saying, she was concerned that meant she could never have her sweet treats! Instead we struck a bargain. Over the course of a month, we’d work on swapping out each processed meal for a more whole foods based option. All while including a treat each night if she was really craving it. Deal she said! So in came egg based breakfasts, veggie based lunches, & protein, veggie & whole food carbs at dinner. The funniest thing happened! She lost weight, had more energy, stopped being starving all the time & by week 3 she no longer craved that daily sugar hit. All while eating more food & still having a dessert here & there!
Long ramble short, filling the majority of meals with mostly whole foods will give your body the nutrients it needs to work optimally. We shouldn’t have a constant 3pm energy drops, all day cravings, 24/7 bloating & other “common” but NOT normal side effects from food. Fill the majority of your diet with real food & it means those little imperfect foods won’t make or break your health.
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