The Good Life – with Dr Libby
How many of us have been told that if we burn more calories than we eat, weight loss will be inevitable? How many of us have then discovered this doesn’t apply to our body no matter how hard we work? The answer – not all calories are created equal. Our bodies react very differently with calories from different sources. They may go through similar digestive processes but the biochemical reactions they trigger can be completely different.
Compare how 1000 calories from fizzy drink are metabolised in the body versus 1000 calories from broccoli. When you consume a fizzy drink your body quickly absorbs the fibre-less sugars and the glucose spikes your blood sugar, which stimulates insulin and subsequently signals to your body to store body fat. Inflammation is increased, triglycerides are raised (essentially fat in your blood), and leptin, one of the hormones involved in appetite regulation, is blocked. If you were to consume 1,000 calories from broccoli – a high fibre option that barely registers an effect on your blood glucose – you don’t trigger the same biochemical reaction at all. Firstly, you wouldn’t even be able to consume 1,000 calories from broccoli, as that would be close to 21 cups – leptin would kick in and let you know you’ve had enough and you would experience the feeling of being full.
I have witnessed this for almost two decades in clinical practice. When my patients stop counting calories and focus on nourishing their body by eating real food, good fats and plenty of vegetables, they have a rapid improvement in their overall well-being, but they also feel satisfied. It changes their relationship with food completely. Often they end up eating more calories yet the weight starts to fall off, and often for the first time in years.
Some naturally high fat (and therefore high calorie) foods are some of the most healthful we can eat in terms of promoting weight loss and reducing our risk of diabetes or heart disease. Avocados are a great example – a high calorie food full of helpful good fats. Focus on eating more real foods, avoid processed and packaged food and focus on your health rather than your weight. Consider the other health-promoting components the food contains; the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as these are essential to our health and well-being. An avocado doesn’t come with a nutritional label, so when you move towards consuming more plant foods you naturally stop counting calories. Most people will tell you that you have to lose weight to be healthy, when these days, you actually have to be healthy to lose weight.