Have you ever wondered how high the quality of your diet really is? Whenever you sit down to eat something, are you thinking more about how many calories might be in your meal or snack or of the nutritional content of the food that you are about to consume? For the past couple of decades, most of the people who have been trying to lose weight have focused more on how many calories that they are eating throughout the day than anything else in order to start seeing results. The reason they would do this. If you are aware of how many calories your body is going to require in order to maintain what their current weight is, you can easily tweak your diet so that you will be eating far less calories. On top of that, you can even burn more calories by increasing the amount of time that you exercise. If you are able to do both of these, voila! Your excess weight is going to start melting off, or so you would think.
In actuality, losing weight is much more complicated. You see, your body is going to be making subtle adjustments that are based off of the source of the calories that you are consuming, which means that the quality of the food that you are eating really is going to matter when it comes to your weight loss results. If this weren’t true, then nobody would ever have to worry about reaching a plateau. For example, when you start to restrict your calories, your body is going to respond by adapting to this reduced amount of energy, which in turn will slow down your metabolic rate. Your appetite hormones such as ghrelin and leptin are also going to be impacted, meaning that you will feel hungrier more often. This is exactly why reducing your caloric intake alone is not considered to be a very good long-term game plan when it comes to losing weight.
Diet Quality for Reducing Calories and Weight Loss
You may be wondering why the quality of your diet is so important. This is because whatever it is that you eat and drink is going to create a certain metabolic environment within your body that is going to either help or hinder your ability to lose weight, regardless of what your daily caloric intake is. With that being said, you are not able to completely ignore calories, but reducing your caloric intake without changing the food quality that you are eating is ultimately going to end up slowing down your overall weight loss and make it much harder to maintain any of the weight that you have already lost.
For example, you may have heard about how there are some people who have been able to lose weight by going on a strictly fast food diet, meaning that they are gobbling down Big Macs and Whoppers every single day. While yes, they are able to lose weight, it is only going to be initially. This happens as they are simply controlling what their caloric intake is, but what happens in the long-term? This is a very positive chance that it is not something that is going to be favorable for them. In fact, chances are that they will slowly gain back every single pound that they have managed to lose, but then even more. So, they will eventually end up being even heavier than when they had initially started. /and that is not even factoring in any of the impact that an all fast food diet is going to have on their overall health.
The quality of your diet really does matter. A study that was done had researchers place two different groups of rats on a different diet. One of the groups had a high-glycemic index diet that consisted of many carbohydrates, which would induce a very rapid insulin and glucose response. The other group was only allowed to eat the complete opposite, or a very low-glycemic index diet. At the end of the study, the rats who were fed the high-glycemic diet had much higher insulin levels, as well as an increased amount of fat storing enzymes. On top of that, when the researchers reduced the number of calories that the rats on the high-glycemic diet were allowed to consume, they still managed to gain more body fat. In fact, they actually gain just about 70% more body fat when compared to the rats who were on the strictly low-glycemic index diet.
So, what does all this mean you’re probably thinking? It means that if your diet consists of French fries, soft drinks and cookies, it will create an environment within your body that is perfect for storing fat, regardless of how many calories you are consuming per day. Besides, it is extremely difficult to eat a low-calorie diet when you are consuming energy dense foods.
Foods that are considered to be high-glycemic foods, just like most other processed foods, spike your blood sugar levels very quickly, which results in a flood of insulin being released into your blood stream. This insulin is going to turn the hormones that are responsible for storing fat on, and the hormones that are responsible for breaking down fat off. When you eat high-glycemic carbs and your blood sugar levels rise very quickly in response to that, it is going to fall just as quickly, resulting in you being hungry again much sooner. With that said, you are going to feel much hungrier after you have just finished eating 250 calories of some processed carbs than if you had just eaten 250 calories of vegetables or a whole grain carb.
So what happens when you replace these high-glycemic carbs with carbs that are rich in fiber, have healthy fats and lean protein? You will have a slower rise in your blood sugar levels, meaning that your bodies insulin response is going to be much smaller. On top of that, your insulin levels are not going to be staying high for very long either. The end result is that your hunger will be controlled for much longer and there will be much less of a stimulus telling your body that it needs to store fat.
Fats vs. Carbohydrates: Why Fat is Not the Enemy
For years and years, it was recommended by both nutritionists and dieticians that you follow some sort of low-fat diet, as the belief was that fat is actually more calorie dense than carbohydrates. Unfortunately for those who actually followed their advice, this is not necessarily going to always lead to the results that you are expecting. When you do follow a diet like that, you are only going to feel hungrier and end up eating even more. This is just another example of the reason why calorie quality is so much more important than calorie quantity.
On top of that, there are also some metabolic effects as well. One study that was done by eating a diet that was low in carbohydrates but high in fats (roughly 60% of total caloric intake), led to an extra increase of energy expenditure to the tune of an extra 325 calories per day when compared to a diet that was considered to be low fat (roughly 20% of total caloric intake). That is a huge difference! With that being said, this happened because while you may be eating more calories when you are on a high fat diet, you are also going to be expending more energy at the very same time. Research has also revealed that when you are on a high fat diet, it will boost your levels of enzymes that are responsible for oxidizing fat in your body, whereas a diet that contains mainly high processed carbs and other high glycemic foods will have the exact opposite fat, meaning that your body is going to go into fat storage mode.
Wrapping it All Together
While the number of calories you consume on a daily basis is still very important, what you should really try to focus on is improving the overall quality of the foods that you eat. This is true whether you are looking to lose some weight, or even just maintain the weight that you are currently at. If you are able to make low-glycemic foods such as lean proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables the foundation of your regular diet and limit your consumption of high-glycemic foods, you will not only lose or maintain the weight you want to be at, but will also feel better and be healthier at the same time. So, if you are going to eat carbohydrates, be sure that you are only selecting ones that have not been processed and contain a higher amount of fiber. This extra fiber will help to reduce your glycemic response even more, and it will help you become healthier at the same time. Instead of counting all your calories, be sure that you are focusing more on your diet quality and you should see and feel your health improve.