This article was written by Nicole Eckert, Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. Check out her holistic living blog: holisticole.com for amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs. Stay inspired by Nicole’s passion – follow her on Facebook & Instagram (@holisticole). BE vibrant.
When it comes to healthy living, the biggest mistake you can make is by getting too caught up in the debate of which diet is the healthiest, and labeling yourself – as you choose your ‘side’. It’s almost as if we are programmed to fit ourselves into a ‘food group’ in order for us to feel safe and confident in our choices.
What I find rather entertaining is how promoters of the paleo, ketogenic to vegan diet share how their lifestyle is ‘ideal’ for everyone, yet with all three diets being so restrictive and respectively different, which one is REALLY the best?
It makes it all rather confusing, doesn’t it?
In a world where we are constantly pressured to fit in and choose our side – I’ve found the real secret to health and happiness is when you stand on your own, and make the choices that are right for you.
This year at the Natural Products Expo, pediatrician and author of the best-selling book ‘Fat Chance’, Dr. Robert Lustig, shared his humble and honest view on some of the most controversial topics in the health industry, with the answers and reassurance we all needed on:
- Why calorie counting is actually an inaccurate approach to weight loss
- How low-fat diets and low-carb diets can provide the same results
- Why saturated fat is not the big bad wolf
- Potential risks with consumption of red meats are not due to the saturated fat content
Why Calories Are Nonsense
A ‘calorie’ by definition is a unit of physics and an equation for how much energy you would need to add to a gram of water in order to raise it by one-degree centigrade.
If you cannot begin to process how that would even work, or what that means, then why are calories the basis to almost every diet imaginable?
As a medical professional, Dr. Lustig has spent years arguing that sugar is what causes our health problems, and it is actually unrelated to the ‘calories’ and respected weight gain.
It’s one thing to know how many calories are in your food, but what’s more important – is thinking about how many of those calories you are actually absorbing.
In the case of fiber, did you know that you’re only absorbing 75-80% of the so-called calories within? Where did the rest go? Fiber is actually fuel for your microbiome, and a percentage of those calories are spent to make your bacteria thrive.
That sure adds to the never-ending equation of calorie counting.
In addition to that, Dr. Lustig also explains how we metabolize our foods at different rates. When you consume protein, you’re actually investing energy to produce energy (ATP). Translation: When consuming protein in comparison to carbohydrates, from a calorie standpoint, you actually lose energy in the process, leaving you with a net energy loss. So if you measure a carb and a protein in a calorimeter, they will be so-called “equals”, except one has to potential to raise your insulin levels and be converted into fat cells.
Counting calories has appeal because it makes us feel a sense of control. It’s a helpful tool for most because in many cases it helps us to restrict overconsumption, however it can also put you at risk by making you fear higher calorie, yet nutrient-dense foods, such as avocado, coconut, chia seeds and hemp hearts – all because of a silly inaccurate measurement that we label them with.
BE VIBRANT TIP: If you enjoy keeping track of your daily energy consumption, keep a food journal that focuses on ingredients and also, how you’re feeling. For many of us, calorie counting works because it’s our motivation to avoid the slice of cake, out of the fear of needing to track it and be reminded that we consumed it. By keeping a food journal, you will still be in-tune with what you are consuming, but you can focus more on your quality of nutrition, opposed to a misleading caloric number.
Diets All Work the Same When They Have This In Common
I’m with Dr. Lustig when he says he’s sick of hearing the vegan, paleo and ketogenic groups fighting over how each of them is right. Are they the same diets? Not by a long shot. But the results can be the same.
It’s not about restricting.
A study by Stanford University found that healthy low-fat diets are just as effective as healthy low carbs diet for weight loss.
A key thing to note about this particular study was that the participants were following a healthy low carb diet and a healthy low-fat diet. These programs were both free from the processed and refined foods, with these foods removed, both groups experienced equal weight loss and benefit.
It’s about choosing real food.
It’s not about being a die-hard vegan or paleo, it’s about eating real food in its most natural state. Foods with few ingredients that make you thrive & be vibrant. In this study, both groups simply ate real food, and they got better, and that should be the takeaway, says Dr. Lustig, in regards to this particular study.
BE VIBRANT TIP: You don’t need to categorize yourself into a food religion. You just need to eat real food. Sometimes that real food is a from-scratch turkey burger in a collard wrap or eggs with sprouted toast for breakfast, sometimes it’s a plant-based dessert that uses superfood ingredients and natural sweeteners – you can have the best of all worlds. Just eat real food, and spend more time finding your best health (hey, it’s in your kitchen).
Eat Some Saturated Fats
It’s not the big bad wolf, really. Check back to this article on the real cause for heart disease where another medical professional, admitted that he was wrong and what he was taught, was wrong.
Saturated fat is not the cause for heart disease, as it was once believed, and according to Dr. Lustig, it’s taking a long time for the medical industry to take back such a huge mistake.
Saturated fat is not one item. We have plant-based and animal-based saturated fats. Of the animal kind, they are not one-in-the-same and some, such as those found in poultry and coconut oil, are actually preventative, however, they get lumped into the same category.
Find out which fats you should be avoiding. Here’s the tricky part, many of them are Heart & Stroke Certified, yet are toxic at their core.
Not All Red Meat is Bad
If you’re someone who feels better with the inclusion of animal proteins. This section is for you.
Our forever frowned upon food category is red meat. But as a real food lover, quality proteins are not denounced. The key is moderation, what we’re choosing to pair it with and how we’re cooking it.
When it comes to red meat, the saturated fat is not the issues, says Dr. Lustig.
How the animal was raised is what really depicts the healthfulness. Just check out this article on why grass-fed beef is better. Avoid charing your meat and always utilize spices for their phytonutrient content, choose pasture-raised and grass-fed and always pair animal proteins with a healthy serving of vegetables (not potatoes) that should at least three times the size of the protein serving.