By Emilina Lomas
So you want to lose weight? You may have seen or heard the term ‘if it fits your macros’ (IIFYM) and those who say that you can eat whatever you like and still lose weight, as long as you’re burning more calories than consuming. But this isn’t scientifically accurate, proper nutrition is the key to sustainable, long term weight loss. 100 calories of veggies is not the same as 100 calories of candy. Here’s some examples as to why.
Fructose and glucose are the two main simple sugars in your diet and gram for gram they provide the same number of calories, but the way they are metabolized in your body is completely different.
Firstly, glucose is metabolized by all your bodys tissues whereas fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. Too much fructose consumption over time can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and many other illnesses. It can also cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is becoming more common in individuals of a normal weight due to the mass consumption of sodas.
Secondly, Ghrelin (the hunger hormone), tells your brain when to eat and when to stop eating. Fructose increases ghrelin levels meaning it stimulates hunger despite being full , whereas glucose produces increases in satiety hormones (hormones that make you feel full) such as leptin.
But not all fructose is bad! Within the same fructose group, different food items can also be metabolized differently. For example, a banana is not metabolized the same as a soda, bananas have a fiber coating which is broken down very slowly by the body and does not spike insulin levels like soda. Whereas a soda goes straight into the bloodstream, spikes insulin levels and does not make you feel full. Frequent insulin level spikes have been linked to weight gain, highly fluctuating energy levels, heart disease, decreased human growth hormone (HGH) production, chronic hormonal disruption, diabetes and more.
This brings us on to our final point: each food within the same macronutrient group has a different glycemic index (scale from 1-100 that ranks how much a food spikes your insulin levels). White Potatoes has just as much a grams of carbohydrate as sweet potato, but they have very different glycemic indexes. Sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index scale making it more nutritious overall and white potatoes rank higher making it less nutritious overall.
So calories aren’t the only important factor, it’s also the nutrient density and glycemic load of the food item, and understanding how it’s metabolized in the body. Consuming an abundance of nutrients helps improve your overall health, regulate the hormones associated with feeling full, help to regulate body weight, help you build and maintain lean muscle mass and so much more!
Proper nutrition is key for long term and sustainable weight loss: so if you’re on the fence on what to eat, choose veggies!