calorie intake

"The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?" Review

If you still believe in the “Calories In/Calories Out” theory (and you’re still not losing weight), you’ll want to read these reasons why you should rethink your approach (from the Business Insider article "The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?").

In glaring black-and-white block letters on the side of your favorite cereal, they vie for your attention — calories. Yet while they're the most prominent part of a nutrition label, calories don't tell the full story.

That's according to registered dietitian and nutritionist Nichola Whitehead, who says the most important thing to look for on a nutrition label is not the calories, but rather the ingredients.< br>
"It's what you're putting into your body that counts," says Whitehead.

While calories can provide a very rough estimate of how healthy something might be, they leave out a number of important factors. Calories don't tell you, for example, how satiated or full something is going to make you feel, how beneficial it is for your digestion, or whether it contains the vitamins and minerals you need for healthy skin, hair, and nails.

This guidance can be applied to whole meals as well as processed foods.

Take the following two breakfasts as an example. Meal one consists of a piece of wheat toast with butter, a couple scrambled eggs, and a coffee. Meal two includes a bowl of frosted cereal in low-fat milk, a glass of orange juice, and a coffee. Both meals have almost exactly the same number of calories.

While they tally up identically as far as their calories are concerned, the two plans are far from equal.

The cereal and juice meal is based around sugar and refined carbohydrates, which the body breaks down quickly, creating a constant need to refuel with caffeine or a snack. The eggs and wheat toast meal, on the other hand, is what Whitehead would call "balanced" — it contains the right mix of proteins and complex carbohydrates that your body needs to be properly fueled in the long term.

Because they score high on something nutritionists refer to as the glycemic index, essentially a measure of how a food will impact your blood sugar levels, foods like processed cereals, white bread, and white rice fall into a category known as "empty calories." Foods like this will "give you a rapid amount of sugar, but you’re going to feel hungry shortly afterwards," says Whitehead.

This is where ingredients play a key role in sizing up the content of what you're eating. When you see things like sugar, corn syrup, fructose, or white flour listed as the first ingredients on a food, that can be a good indicator that it's not going to keep you full or energized in the long term. Instead, look for things like whole grains, lean proteins (chickpeas, beans, or chicken breast), and vegetables.

"It's what kinds of foods you eat that matters when it comes to how healthy your body is, how satiated you’re feeling, and how much energy you’ve got," says Whitehead. "Calories are just a tool."

Personal Trainer Wisdom: “A caloric reduction in your diet will automatically result in weight loss” is the biggest weight loss myth that still resonates in the minds of my personal training clients. I don’t blame them. Less food intake, the more weight loss. In some cases this is true. For instance, if you typically consume 3000 calories per day and cut out 500 calories, this dramatic drop may result in weight loss… initially. There will be a point, just like it has for my personal training clients over the last 12 years, when that will stop, though.

Your body is a very complicated, efficient piece of art that depends on a base of dietary fuel. While you can function on a filler-food diet, it doesn’t change the body’s nutrient-dense requirements. What happens when you don’t choose nutrient-dense foods? Secondary systems will be recruited by your core system to compensate for this deficit. You may continue to release the hunger hormone, ghrelin, until it receives what it needs. Your body may also slow down your metabolism to preserve what it has received and/or minimize the stress to itself.

On the flipside, you most likely will be increasing your blood sugar levels with an onslaught of refined (simple) carbs and increasing the amount of inflammation in your body, too…2 important factors that will also affect your ability to lose weight.

Furthermore, as the article describes above, the combination of calories play a pivotal role in digestion and absorption. What does this mean for you? Any diet that requires a single food as a meal, solely on liquid (unless it is a smoothie), fasting, and an abundance of inflammatory foods/drinks (dairy, grains, processed foods, refined sugars, red meat, and alcohol), may stop your weight loss, increase your weight, and compromise your health.

Photo Credit: –Should we consider a bigger picture when reading a nutrition label?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?" on
"The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?" Review
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