Some people cut too many calories and their bodies think “this is famine time; I’d better hold on to all my fat; who knows when the next meal is coming?” That’s how the body reacts to restricted calories – metabolism slows down to gather reserves. There are a lot of malnourished overweight people. How can that be? Often they have eaten too many of the wrong things, gained weight and it’s tough to get it off. Men seem to have an easier time than women losing weight due to hormone monthly fluctuations that women experience.
However, eating is a hormonal event – the dance of insulin (when blood sugar gets too high) and introduction of glucagon when blood sugar gets too low. The best is a balanced blood sugar – no dips into bad moods, no highs into anxiety or hyperactivity from too much sugar. So what’s this got to do with cutting calories in a safe, smart way?
As long as you have a balanced blood sugar you will feel well and if you need to lose weight, you will – as long as you don’t gorge. Your Krebs cycle that produces energy (ATP) is powered initially by protein, carbohydrate and fat. So if a person is cutting down on all carbs, the cycle can’t be completed properly, energy will be lagging. If a person cuts down on all fat, your brain (made up of 60% fat), starts to feel sluggish. You may get depressed and have aches and pains and irritability. Your nerves are covered by a myelin sheath – made from fats – essential fatty acids that we must get from the diet. Do you shun fat? Nerves will be jagged.
If you cut down on protein you’ll be depriving neurotransmitters in the brain and gut of amino acids. Protein is also necessary for skin, hair, nails and teeth. Also, protein feeds your muscles and without it you can get muscle wasting and many other ills.
So cutting calories isn’t the ideal way to lose weight, otherwise a person can eat a chocolate cream pie for the day and be done with it – then you’ve provided your body with necessary calories, devoid of nutrients.
It’s all about the nutrients and the types of foods you’re eating which will a) determine your nutritional status and health, and b) keep weight in check. Too many simple carbs – from soda pop, sugary cereal, candy and white flour products such as pies, cakes, donuts turn into sugar in the body and pack on the pounds.
Tips for balanced blood sugar, balanced nutrients and feeling great:
- All meals need to start with protein – for women about 2 – 3 oz. depending upon one’s weight and the amount of exercise they do. Men generally need more protein at each meal, 3 – 4 oz. Those with mental health challenges may need ½ – 1 oz. more than the above average. Proteins are lean choices of poultry, fish and seafood, beef, eggs, low fat dairy (not non-fat dairy as some fat is necessary to help digest protein – plain yogurt, low fat sheep, goat or cow’s milk cheese, whey protein powder.
- All meals need to include carbohydrates – for lunch and dinner about 1 – 2 cups of green vegetables, plus ½ cup of a starch such as sweet potato, or a slice of bread, 2/3 cup of quinoa or buckwheat or squash. For breakfast, whole grain cereal – small bowl or whole grain toast. Try staying off wheat for a couple of weeks and choosing other grains or root vegetables and see if bloating disappears. With the large amount of gluten (gliadin) in today’s form of wheat, many people are experiencing relief (and weight loss) when switching to another type of carbohydrate.
- All meals need to include fats: – many to choose from such as olive oil or coconut oil – 2 – 3 tsp., a handful of raw nuts or seeds, a few olives, ½ avocado, 2 tsp of organic mayonnaise. Choose one per meal.
- Don’t skip meals. You may need a small snack late afternoon or ½ hour before bed of you feel low in energy, hungry or shaky
Healthy snacks include:
* Add to a cup of yogurt – some blueberries or blackberries and slices of bananas and a few almonds or walnuts
* Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or almond butter.
* Stuff a ½ of whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
*Small baked potato – Yukon Gold or sweet potato. Top with 1 oz. Swiss, mozzarella or Feta cheese – heat in toaster oven.
* Spread almond or natural peanut butter on apple slices.
*Blend almond milk or rice milk (or yogurt), frozen or fresh strawberries and a ¼ cup berries for 30 seconds. Add a spoon of flax or chia seeds. For an added brain boost, add rice or whey protein powder.
* Cup of vegetable or tomato soup.
* Wrap a slice of turkey around an avocado slice. Enjoy!
* One or two squares of dark chocolate – 70 – 85% cocoa.
* A small piece of fruit and a few walnuts
Eating whole, natural foods is the way to go. Drop junk food, processed foods – you’ve already cut your calories.