All Calories Are Not Created Equal
At the core of weight loss, success is about expending more calories than you consume. But calories alone mean nothing when it comes to improving health and body composition. While both counting calories and counting macros can be effective for weight loss in the short-term, there are some key differences in how they lead to long-term success.
Placing the emphasis on balanced macronutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrates – provides sustained energy while burning fat and building muscle. Not only does it result in weight loss, it also supports improved cardiovascular health, better glucose control, and healthy adrenal and thyroid function.
A macro-balanced diet will lead to greater satisfaction, fewer cravings, and more mindful food choices in the long-term when compared to a calorie-restricted diet. This often leads to intuitive eating – the point at which you can just look at your plate and know that it is well balanced and nutrient dense without tracking.
When tracking macros, protein should be a priority in meal planning. Our bodies depend so much on protein and all the micronutrients contained in protein sources like zinc, B12, iron and others. Most people need at least 30 grams per meal but individual needs will vary depending on the person and their goals.
Additionally, healthy fat should be consumed with every meal not only because it tastes good, but because it is essential for brain health, hormone production, nutrient absorption and is an excellent fuel source. When eaten in balance with protein and carbs, fat also helps to blunt your blood sugar response and helps you maintain a steady stream of energy, not a roller coaster of high and low blood sugar that only ends in a crash.
And finally carbs need not be completely avoided – at least not when they come from the ground in their whole, unprocessed form. Refined sugar, on the other hand, we can do without. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds all contain “healthy carbs” that full of antioxidants and micronutrients. They also contain fiber to help with good digestion and feed healthy gut bacteria.
Focusing on whole foods nutrition and tracking your macros will yield long-term results when compared to counting calories. It isn’t hard to do but in working with a professional, your plan should be individualized for your needs, optimized for your goals, and inclusive of all macronutrients.