The C Word

Calories: we have come to believe these are the end all be all when it comes to weight management and body composition. We have been taught that if you take in less energy than you put out, you will be healthy and lose weight. There are even programs out there that encourage you to eat whatever you want as long as it’s within a caloric range. Yet we follow these programs or low calorie diets, eating low fat and low calorie foods or simply foods that fit our allotted caloric intake for the day, and we gain weight, bloat, and feel like crap. Well guys, calories aren’t everything. Not even close! I’ll let Rob explain. (Contact info at end of post!)

 A calorie is a calorie, right? Kind of. The IIFYM group would have you believe calories and macros are the end all be all. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating clean or eating junk. As long as you eat according to your macros and calories, you’ll lose fat. In the grand scheme of things, calories do matter. Up to a point. So do the quality of the calories. I like clients to think of food as Q2. Quantity and Quality. They both matter. 
    Solely focusing on calories may help you lose weight in the short term but doesn’t equate to health in the long term. There are some ladies that look lean, muscular and fit. You’re thinking, “wow, they’re healthy”. Right? Not at all.  They may look great on the outside but they’re falling apart on the inside. On the other hand, some women are following a strict diet but see no progress. Yet, the complaints that I hear from both types of women are the same.
    Common complaints I’ve heard from female clients:
  • I feel and/or look pregnant after eating
  • My fingers and toes blow up like little sausages
  • Sometimes I get kankles
  • My energy is so low, I’m dragging throughout the day
  • I seem to get sick every other month
    If you only focus on eating a certain amount of calories and macros and not focus on quality, you’re screwing with your hormones. Here’s a picture of myself holding a head of organic cauliflower and a small bowl of M&M’s. Both foods are the equivalent of 150 calories but have a completely different metabolic and hormonal response. 
    Organic foods pack more of a nutritional punch. Research by Virginia Worthington has demonstrated organic food contains more vitamins and minerals than conventionally grown veggies. Obviously, you’re getting more vitamins in cauliflower than M&M’s. The other benefit of organic food is it virtually has no pesticides. Pesticides work by preventing the pest from reproducing. Therefore most pesticides are hormone disruptors. Guess what?  That’s exactly what happens to you as you consume non-organic foods. Now, eating 1 M&M won’t do that but an accumulation of non-organic foods can disrupt your hormones. 
    The type of carb in cauliflower versus M&M’s is vastly different. Cauliflower has fiber. There’s insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps to move your bowels. The soluble fiber is considered a pre-biotic (food for your good guys). This helps proliferate the good guys so they can win the battle over the bad guys.
    Level blood sugar is so critical for handling stress. Your BFF for blood sugar control is PFF. Protein, fats and fiber (PFF).  Fiber helps flatline blood sugar which helps control the release of insulin. The more you control insulin, the leaner you get. 
   Inflammation to the gut is a stress to your body. The sugar in M&M’s will cause inflammation in your gut. The effect of inflammation manifests into a viscerosomatic reflex inhibition. What?! In English please! Viscero means internal organ. Somatic means muscles. A  viscerosomatic reflex is an interrelationship of organs to muscles. A perfect example of a viscerosomatic reflex inhibition is a heart attack. The issue is in the heart. Yet, a person grabs their chest because it feels like it’s cramping. 
    If you eat according to your macros but eat junk, this inflames your viscera (small intestine). This in turn inhibits core muscles from firing. The function of the core muscles go way beyond the ‘6-pack’. The abdominal wall is important for holding in the internal organs and regulating intra-abdominal pressure. This becomes dsyregulated due to inflammation. This is one of the main reasons women have that pregnant look after eating.
    This inflammatory effect of sugar also suppresses your immune system. Research demonstrates that 1 teaspoon of sugar can depress the function of macrophages (think pac-man eating bad guys) for 2 hours! Not good for the person who is sick every other month.
    The hormonal and metabolic systems may be dysfunctional, even though you’re eating according to your macros. Calories and macros are important for fat loss but so is quality. Think Q2. Quantity and Quality when it comes to your food. We all know beauty is skin deep. Just as true beauty comes from the inside of a person, true health comes from the inside as well.  

There you have it! The number one question I get asked is how many calories do you eat and while yes I sometimes count macros, I always make sure I’m eating the best quality food I can. Right now it’s the only thing I’m focusing on (in addition to healing my gut and hormones) rather than tracking macronutrients, and my body composition is much better than it was on a strict diet. So many variables come into play to determine body functionality and composition, but oftentimes we just have to eat better not less. 

To contact Rob, visit his website or contact him via information below!


IG: @robertyang