Weight Loss: It’s More Than Just Calories In & Calories Out

I’ve had it with telling people telling me that there’s not
more to it than that. Sure, for most people that haven’t been yo-yo dieters
their whole lives and have a healthy metabolism, it’s true. However there are
some exceptions, and I’ve come across plenty of clients who have struggled with
this diet myth. Speaking from personal experience, I know that it’s the kinds
of foods that I choose and at what time I eat them, rather than the calories in
them, that make a bigger impact on my weight and energy.

When I worked as a weight loss counselor for another
organization, their approach was to balance blood sugar and to cut calories and
fat way back. Balancing blood sugar is right on. When your blood sugar is
steady, you’re much less likely to experience cravings.  Cutting fat way back is dead wrong.
Yes, it’s true. You’ve got to eat the right kind of fat and enough of it, to
lose body fat. Completely eliminating trans fat is essential for weight loss
and minimizing omega 6 inflammatory oils from vegetable oils like sunflower,
safflower, canola, and soybean oil is a good idea too. But eliminating avocado,
nuts, seeds, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and oily fish is self-sabotage.
You might lose weight initially, but you’ll be moody, dried out, wrinkly and

Also, based on activity level, body size, and gender, 1200
calories daily for an extended period of time can shut down the body’s
metabolism, making it harder to maintain weight loss down the line. Sure, you
might lose weight initially, but a large portion of that will be metabolically
active muscle. When you lose muscle mass, your resting metabolic rate drops
down. That means that you burn less calories over a 24 hour period while you’re
at rest. The more muscle you’ve got, the more calories you burn doing
absolutely nothing but sitting on your behind.

Food is information and your body is a complex chemistry
lab. Let’s say you eat 200 calories worth of frosted flakes. All the sugar and
carbohydrates are going to spike your blood sugar, causing you to release
insulin which is…guess what? A fat storage hormone! Choosing a higher protein
snack with a healthy fat would be a much more intelligent choice for fat loss.
A handful of nuts would be a great option, for example.

Besides the ratio of carbohydrate, fat, and protein and the
time of day at which you eat (try to front-load as much as possible with larger
meals earlier in the day so that your liver can detox at night rather than
digest), there are a few other factors to consider:

Food allergies and sensitivities: If you eat foods that you’re sensitive to, your
body retains water weight, making it difficult to lose inches and pounds.

Thyroid imbalance: With
chronic low-calorie dieting, the thyroid can become sluggish. Thyroid regulates
how many calories you burn on a daily basis. Get your T3, T4, and TSH levels
all checked out to make sure. Testing for thyroid anti-bodies is also a good
idea to differentiate between Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. Many people are
currently being misdiagnosed with hypothyroidism rather than Hashimoto’s.

Hormonal imbalance: A
salivary hormone profile can test for cortisol levels as well as other sex
hormones. High cortisol will prevent weight loss. Excess estrogen may make it
difficult as well.

Lack of Sleep: Not
enough sleep (anything less than 8 hours per night) can increase ghrelin (the
hunger hormone) and decrease leptin (the satiety hormone). So if you’re tired,
you’ll feel more hungry and less full.

Heavy Metal Toxicity: The
body protects the brain and nervous system from heavy metals by storing toxic
metals in fat cells.

Over-exercising: Yep!
Too much time on the treadmill can raise cortisol levels. Your body senses it’s
in fight or flight mode and weight loss is put on hold. If you burn out your
adrenal glands, this can lead to thyroid issues long term. The better solution
is to practice interval training, strength training, and stretching.

Losing weight is hard. There are many psychological, social
and emotional factors involved. Calories in, calories out only addresses the
body and in a very naïve, mechanistic way. New research is coming out on how
sugar works in the brain. Turns out that sugar is more addictive than cocaine!
There are some people who are wired differently than others and we are
discovering genes that make a person more likely to be an addict. So give me a
break about calories in and calories out. To simplify weight loss in this way
is an insult to the intelligence of all the folks out there who struggle with
their weight on a daily basis. It’s like telling an addict or an alcoholic to
just stop using drugs because it’s bad for them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m currently
working on a 12 week mind, body, spirit “learning to love and respect your
body” program for women who struggle with their weight. I’ll keep you all





About nutritionthatworks

Sylvie Nalezny has a Master's degree in Holistic Health Education and is a certified Nutrition Educator. She has worked as a Nutritionist specializing in weight loss and overcoming sugar addiction and as a Wellness Coach, helping people to create healthy habits.

8 responses to “Weight Loss: It’s More Than Just Calories In & Calories Out”

  1. Donald Gerard says :

    Wow, Sylvie, this is really good basic information not only for someone trying to lose weight, but for people who simply want to be healthier. You may have written about this in your other articles yet, but how does one know when they’ve reached their optimum body fat level? Also, is there a different diet approach if you want to lose inches instead of weight?

  2. Sylvie Nalezny 2009 says :

    Thanks for reading my rant Donald! And thanks for your question. Regarding optimum body fat, I refer to the World Health Organization’s guidelines. For men, it ranges between 8-25% and for women between 21-36%. The range depends on age and activity level. I also like to use the waist to hip ratio which should be .95 or below for men and .80 or below for women. I like the using the ratio because you use your own body as a standard, rather than someone else’s. To get the ratio, simply measure the smallest part of your waist (usually right where the belly button is) and divide that number by the widest part of your hips. As far as losing inches, rather than weight this will happen sometimes naturally! This is why it’s so important to measure body composition rather than the number on the scale. 

  3. Laura says :

    You have some great information here. I’d love to see examples of internal training and strength training programs that would be beneficial. It’s an area where I struggle. . .both in putting together a program and in finding a good program.

  4. micro-scopy says :

    Will there be a doomsday in 2012?

  5. medernel says :

    Who will win the Champions League??

  6. kinokanada says :

    I’m pregnant!

  7. Lightfist says :

    Good! All would be well written:)

  8. exercise to lose love handles fast says :

    exercise to lose love handles fast

    BLOG.REALFOODNUTRITION.COM: Weight Loss: It’s More Than Just Calories In

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