It’s no wonder why most people still ask the question, “How many calories should I eat to lose weight” with so many fitness and weight loss myths circulating in the media surrounding workout routines and diet plans.
You know how the old saying goes:
“Losing weight is as simple as calories in vs calories out…..”
In other words, if you burn more calories each day then you consume you will create a caloric deficit forcing your body to delve in to fat stores on your body to get the calories for energy that it needs to function.
This implies that if you bust your butt exercising to burn calories coupled with restricting your food consumption you will reach your ideal weight.
Well if it’s so easy why are something like 35% of Americans overweight? Are we just bad at math?
If it’s the right way to lose weight then why do many of us gain most of the weight back and more after we worked so hard to lose it?
Here is why:
Counting Calories Doesn’t Work
You probably already know that in your heart because chances are you’ve probably gone through at least 1 or 2 weight loss cycles in your life already and you are looking for information on how to tackle another.
If it’s not calories that matter than what?
It’s insulin. You need to control the level of insulin that’s circulating in your body at all times.
Before I elaborate, let me first explain what insulin is.
Insulin is one of the most important hormones in your body. After we eat, our food is digested and broken down into different molecules, one of which is glucose.
Glucose and the other molecules are released into our bloodstream and it is insulin’s job to clear all of the glucose and find a home for it.
Note: Some people don’t produce insulin or their insulin does not respond to glucose in their bloodstream. Therefore these people can’t clear glucose from their bloodstream – they’re called diabetics.
Glucose can be used for energy, can be used by the brain, can find a home in muscles, or be converted to fat and stored on our stomachs and thighs.
The more glucose in our bloodstream the more insulin produced. The more insulin produced the greater the chance of the food you ate being stored as fat.
Look at this chart:
When I say control insulin, I mean that there is a “sweet spot”, a special zone (the green zone in the chart above) where if we keep insulin levels within we will lose weight much quicker than if we counted calories.
On the other hand there is also a “rotten spot” (the top blue zone above) where if insulin levels are too high for too long than most things we eat will be converted to fat.
Let’s walk through an example.
Let’s say you asked me, as a Fitness Professional, how many calories should I eat to lose weight, and I told you 2000.
So you go home and in one day all you eat is 2000 calories of your favorite ice cream. Ice cream, which is loaded with sugar, happens to be one of those foods that cause your insulin level’s to spike through the roof and into that nasty top blue zone. Any extra glucose from the ice cream not used by your body for energy will definitely be converted to fat.
But let’s say I was to tell you what foods you could eat to make up your 2000 calories that would keep your insulin level within the zone for fat loss and you chose to eat those foods all day. In this case, your 2000 calories worth of fat burning foods would not be stored as fat and actually help create an environment in your body suitable for fat loss because you stayed in that sweet, green zone.
In summary, you could eat the same number of calories of foods that promote fat storage and foods that promote fat loss and the calories wouldn’t matter. Whether or not you gain or lose weight is completely dependent on what foods make up your given caloric intake.
Knowing that information, my friend, what is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If you AGAIN choose to count calories to lose weight do you really think you will keep it off THIS time?
How can we make THIS time different?
BTW, if you want to learn a little more about the whole glucose – insulin- fat relationship I wrote about it in a little more detail here.
A Better Way to Lose Weight
So you now know that you do NOT need to count calories to lose weight, rather controlling your circulating insulin levels is the better diet plan for success.
So I want to share a better way to lose weight – a simpler, easier, and less life consuming way – one that is guaranteed to help you achieve easier and permanent weight loss.
A way that will keep you in the insulin sweet spot so you can actually be burning fat most of the day instead of storing it.
In the simplest of explanations, know which foods accelerate fat loss and know which foods prevent fat loss.
Isn’t that so much easier than measuring and weighing all your food, counting calories, and having zero flexibility in your diet?
The truth is, when you count calories to lose weight you actually underestimate the amount of food you truly need to consume.
You actually need quite a bit more food than you would think if you’re using conventional calorie counting to lose weight.
The way I see it, there are two ways to approach weight loss:
1. You can starve yourself while eating all the wrong foods and still gain weight.
2. You can stuff yourself full of all the right foods and reach your ideal body weight.
Which would you rather do?
Foods That Accelerate The Burn
Stop wondering “How many calories should I eat to lose weight” and start filling up primarily on foods that accelerate fat loss.
Here is an overview of what those foods are:
- Meat – preferably grass fed beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
- Fish/Seafood – preferably wild caught
- Eggs – preferably from pastured chickens
2. Healthy Fats
- Coconut – oil, milk, and the meat
- Butter – preferably from grass fed cows
- Lard – preferably from grass fed animals
- Egg yolks
- All veggies – starchy veggies in moderation
- Berries are best
- All other fruit in moderation
5. Herbs and spices
- Add to food for increased flavor
The general rule of thumb when it comes to foods that accelerate fat burning is to eat whole foods - those that have only 1 ingredient as in those foods in the previous list.
I also suggest some form of low carb diet where you limit the amount of sugar that you consume.
You need to know that, as the list of ingredients grows for any food, that the health and fat burning power of it greatly decreases. Which leads me to…
Foods That Promote Fat Accumulation
The foods in numbers 1-3 below promote fat storage because they are broken down by the body into glucose.
The foods in numbers 4-5 promote fat storage because they act as chemicals and toxins in your body and clog up your liver. If the liver doesn’t work properly it can’t filter out your blood.
1. Sugar – enemy #1
- Obvious sources – candy, cake, pie, cookies, etc
- Less obvious sources – salad dressings, cereal, sauces, packaged fruit, orange juice
- Bread, cereal, pasta, rice, etc
- Most alcohol, especially beer and wine.
4. Bad fats
- Partially hydrogenated oils
- Canola, vegetable, seed oils
5. Processed foods
- High fructose corn syrup
- Artificial sweeteners
- Partially hydrogenated oils
Sample Meal Plan
Now I know I’ve provided a ton of new and useful information, most of which should have you stop thinking about how many calories should I eat to lose weight.
But you may have some concerns about how to actually combine the foods that accelerate fat burning so that you can construct several meals out of them.
Here’s what a normal day might look like when you stop counting calories and start eating foods that burn fat:
- Bacon and eggs cooked in the bacon grease
- Salad made with greens and lots of your favorite veggies
- Chicken strips stir fried in coconut oil
- Homemade balsamic vinaigrette
- Grilled steak (your favorite cut)
- Mashed sweet potatoes with butter
- Green beans sauteed in bacon grease
By loading up on proteins, good fats, and veggies you are guaranteed to satisfy your appetite and keep you satiated for hours. You won’t even feel the need to snack!
And the good news is when you eat like this all day long there is no restricting your food portions, weighing or measuring your food, logging everything you eat and counting their calories, or having food take over your life.
You just eat until you feel full and that’s it! All because you are eating to control your insulin levels.
You will lose weight immediately if you start eating like this with a sustained weight loss until you reach your ideal body weight.
Other Amazing Benefits
If you decide to start using this type of diet plan and stop counting calories you will absolutely start losing weight much more effortlessly than you ever have while starving yourself.
The awesome thing is that you may see additional health benefits from this type of diet plan. A few possibilities include:
- decrease acne
- controls PMS and menopausal symptoms
- control diabetes
- decrease risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease
- decrease symptoms of arthritis
- decrease symptoms of fibromyalgia
- decrease irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and colitis
- controls allergies
- gives you a wicked energy boost
- improved sleep
So, I’ve made my case and hope that I have convinced you that counting calories to lose weight is not the best way to lose weight long term.
Whether you’re convinced or not you have nothing to lose but to give this insulin controlling, whole foods diet plan a shot for yourself.
Either follow my sample menu above or create one for yourself using the foods that accelerate fat burn. Just be sure to avoid the foods that promote fat storage that I listed above.
You really have nothing to lose except unwanted body fat!
The next time you think about how many calories should I eat to lose weight forget it and eat as many 1 ingredient, whole foods as you want.
Your Weight Loss Coach,
Susan Campbell, MS
*If you’re interested in reading a little more about the type of diet that I describe above, please check out my Amazon ebook, Low Carb Diet Strategies You Don’t Know About.
Inside, I discuss the 5 little-known low carb diet hacks to help you lose weight quickly starting today.
I also provide a little more background about the relationship between food, insulin, blood glucose, and leptin, all hormones responsible for the amount of fat you carry.
I also provide a list of foods to consume and avoid, and a few sample recipes to get you started.
Click here now.