Calorie counting is a proven method that helps in losing weight. It helps keep track of the calories consumed and enables you to correct your eating patterns. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to health. What might work for one person doesn’t have to work for another, despite age and gender. In addition, the response to the food might also differ. Therefore, counting calories are a great start to your weight loss journey. It initiates the body into a healthy mode wherein you start watching what you eat. Weight management results from understanding how much food your body needs and, at a psychological level accepting that you have a threshold of food consumption. Therefore, calorie counters are an essential part of your weight management process.
However, this method has one major drawback: calorie counting focuses on the amount of food consumed and its respective calorie values, not on its quality. While this may help in losing weight, it is not very sustainable. Eating to improve metabolic health is an excellent addition to calorie counting.
The experts now see calorie counting as an integral process, aided by understanding the food response to your blood glucose levels. For example, HealthifyPro 2.0 enables you to use technology efficiently and understand your glycemic response to each food. This wearable device also calibrates your metabolic profile based on the available data. As a result, your virtual coaches will assess your requirements, ensuring to deliver a customised diet and lifestyle that works for your body.
The HealthifyMe Note
Having good metabolic health translates to getting higher energy yield from a lesser amount of food consumed. Therefore, relying on eating food that can improve your metabolic health is an excellent way to increase the sustainability of calorie deficit diets. In addition, stable blood sugar, along with monitoring how many calories you are consuming and how much you are burning, is a sure-shot way to improve your metabolic health. As a result, you lose weight and are less prone to diabetes, PCOS, blood pressure, heart issues, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Calorie Counting: What Does It Lack?
Being on a calorie deficit diet is the way to lose weight. A calorie deficit means that the individual should consume fewer calories than the body burns. It is achievable by calorie counting. This method helps identify eating patterns and allows you to make necessary changes to lose weight. It also keeps you on track and helps you reach your goals.
While calorie counting is an incredible way to lose weight, it does not focus on the quality of the food consumed. Before beginning the process, it is crucial to understand that not all calories are created equal. For example, 100 grams of apple and 100 grams of pizza have the same number of calories. However, their nutritional quality and effect on health are entirely different. To conclude, it is essential not only to count the number of calories but also to focus on the food quality.
While calorie counting is a good practice, it does not stand well on its own. There’s an essential missing factor in this equation: metabolic health. Metabolic health plays an incredibly huge role in weight and fat loss. Being metabolically healthy ensures getting maximum gains for minimum effort. A metabolically healthy body provides a higher energy yield from a lesser amount of food. It translates to lesser cravings and greater sustainability of calorie deficit diets. It also gives the additional benefit of speeding up the weight loss process.
Having proper metabolic health means having adequate glucose metabolism and lipid profile. The main criteria for being metabolically healthy are having higher insulin sensitivity and stable blood sugar levels. Glucose spikes occur in every individual and not just in people with diabetes. These glucose spikes cause an increase in insulin levels.
Insulin helps the body to direct the glucose into tissues for energy. It also converts the excess glucose into glycogen stored in muscle and the liver. This glucose content, when goes beyond the storage level, results in fat production. The process is lipogenesis. Glucose spikes usually cause lipogenesis due to the excess availability of glucose in a short period.
Individuals consuming foods with a higher glycemic index and more specially refined carbohydrates are also prone to insulin resistance. During this situation, the body cannot respond effectively to insulin and thus, resulting in metabolic syndrome and Type-2 diabetes in the long run. Hence, consuming foods that boost metabolic health and avoiding highly refined foods causing glucose spikes is essential.
The HealthifyMe Note
Not all calories are equal. Unfortunately, only counting calories without focusing on nutrients can be counterproductive. For example, you eat a 700-800 calorie meal for lunch consisting of fried snacks and desserts. Also, suppose before that, you have had breakfast with sugary cereals and sweetened yoghurt. Now, you have almost exhausted your calorie grant by lunchtime. So you skip dinner. As a result, you feel hungry and exhausted. Therefore, it causes poor sustainability of calorie deficit diets. Hence, focusing on foods that can help improve good metabolic health, which further aids in weight loss and staying within the right calorie limits, is crucial.
Every food source shows unique health benefits because the body’s response differs from one individual to another. However, here are some healthy foods to add to your daily diet.
According to a meta-analysis, increasing total dietary fibre reduces body fat, improves glycemic response, and reduces blood pressure, Triglycerides, and low-density cholesterol. Fibre-rich food includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Here is a list of a few fibre-rich foods.
- Green leafy vegetables
- Brussels sprouts
- Brown rice
- Kidney beans
- Chia seeds
Omega-3 Rich Foods
A systematic review has shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. Omega-3 fatty acid helps in improving insulin sensitivity and acts against hypertension and dyslipidemia. It is also known to prevent cardiovascular and neurological disorders. The primary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Cod liver oil
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Foods with high protein, such as fish, meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds, may temporarily speed up your metabolism. It is a result of the fact that they demand more energy from your body to process. Food’s thermic impact is responsible for this (TEF).
According to research, diets high in protein boost TEF the greatest. For instance, compared to 5-10% for carbohydrates and 0-3% for fats, they raise your metabolic rate by 15-30%. By assisting your body in maintaining its muscular mass, protein-rich diets also lessen the metabolism decline that sometimes relates to weight loss. Additionally, protein might help you feel full for longer, which might help you avoid overeating.
According to research, chilli helps in improving metabolism. It is known to mobilise fat and increase energy expenditure and thermogenesis. The active substance of chilli known as capsaicin activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is mainly responsible for increasing energy expenditure. Chilli is also known to improve insulin resistance, helping glucose metabolism.
Studies indicate that ginger aids in the prevention of diseases via its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties through constituents such as gingerols. It also has practical anti-hypertensive and glucose-sensitising effects. It also benefits metabolism and weight by increasing satiety and fullness.
Studies show that turmeric has an active substance known as curcumin. Curcumin aids in improving insulin sensitivity, suppressing fat formation, and reducing blood pressure. It also helps in reducing inflammation and improves lipid profile.
Research shows that garlic increases insulin sensitivity, acts hypotensive, and has hypolipidemic properties. Therefore, garlic can be an excellent food to add to the regular diet and improve the body’s overall metabolism. It also has relatively high anti-inflammatory properties.
Data shows that onions are a great tool to combat metabolic syndrome. It helps lower low-density cholesterol levels, increases insulin release, and improves insulin sensitivity. It also lowers lipo genesis and has hypotensive properties.
Specific dietary regimens like low carb diets, paleo diets, intermittent fasting, and plant-based diets positively contribute to overall well-being. The studies unveil the extensive beneficial effects of the regimens on metabolic health. These diets can be used as an adjunct to calorie counting to achieve more sustainable weight loss results.
Low-Carb Diets Can Help with Metabolic Health
When you eat a low-carbohydrate diet, your overall blood sugar control improves. The reason is that low-carbohydrate diets restrict the amount of sugar available to be turned into glucose by the liver. It, in turn, will lead to less insulin secretion and reduce blood sugar levels. Additionally, low-carbohydrate diets help improve triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
There are some things to remember when starting on a low-carbohydrate diet. First, make sure you consult your healthcare professional to know whether this type of diet is right for you. Second, ensure that you are getting enough protein and fibre. These two nutrients are essential for maintaining good blood sugar control and reducing the risk of heart disease. Finally, keep in mind to drink plenty of water. Keeping the ideal hydration level is essential to see benefits like better blood glucose control and reduced risk factors for heart disease.
Foods to Consume in Low-Carb Diet
- Fibre-rich fruits and vegetables. These include apples, grapefruit, oranges, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, and cucumbers.
- Whole grains. Examples include brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, and whole-wheat pasta.
- Low-fat dairy products. These include milk, yoghurt, cheese, and eggs.
- Lean protein sources. These include chicken breast, fish (such as salmon or trout), legumes (such as lentils), and tofu.
The palaeolithic diet emphasises increased consumption of lean meat, fish, shellfish, fruit, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Conversely, it excludes grains, legumes, cereals, dairy, processed foods, refined sugar, and added salt. It is mainly plant-dominant and recommends unprocessed meat, seafood, and fish. It also emphasises eating local and seasonal foods with beverages such as water, herbal tea, and occasionally, fruit juice. The paleo diet is high in vitamins and minerals.
A meta-analysis suggests that the palaeolithic diet improves blood pressure, lipid profile, fasting blood glucose levels and blood pressure. In addition, it can reduce the risk of metabolic disease by increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing lipogenesis.
Foods That Can Sabotage Your Progress
Some types of eating cause spikes in blood sugar that lead to the body releasing more insulin and storing fat. It will force you to burn fat less effectively with high insulin levels throughout your system. Eating at this rate can also lead to an increased risk of chronic disease. Also, insulin resistance can cause metabolic changes, making us less efficient at burning fat.
- Artificially sweetened foods and beverages
- Processed and ultra-processed foods and oils
- Refined foods like white rice, white bread, doughnuts, and baked goods
- Red meat
- High-sodium foods
You will likely lose weight by consuming more energy than your body needs and creating a sustained energy deficit by consuming less food and exercising more. Counting calories might be effective but will require constant effort instead.
Sustaining a calorie-restricted diet in the long term isn’t easy. Your heroic efforts can seem less effective week by week and overtime. However, there appears to be an underlying missing piece (beyond just calories-in-calories-out) that leads to sustainable weight loss. Since not all calories are created equal, one should always aim to have optimal metabolic health to bridge the gap. Being metabolically fit directly translates to the body being highly efficient, which results in maximum energy yield from the same food. It will make the process more sustainable.
A metabolically fit body also burns fat faster. Healthy lifestyle modifications like sleep, diet, exercise, and de-stressing procedures will enhance your metabolic health. Certain foods like garlic, ginger, turmeric, and chilli increase metabolism and can be consumed more frequently in your diet. Avoid the consumption of white rice, refined flour products, artificial sweeteners, high sodium foods, and processed foods as they can affect metabolism and glucose negatively. Specific diets like intermittent fasting, low-carb, and paleo diets also control calorie intake and boost metabolic and overall health.