Keeping It Simple: What to Count to Make Your Diet Work For You

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If you’ve come in and received nutritional counseling at Elevation Medical Weight Loss, you probably noticed that we take a more relaxed approach to dieting than many would expect.  As a result, this leads to several frequent followup questions. Before we continue let us be clear, healthier and more nutritious food choices are always preferred for general health and wellness. What we want to address today are the nuts and bolts of our dietary recommendations, and what matters on a daily basis so you can make more informed decisions when circumstances limit your food options.

In the strange and surprisingly vast world of online bodybuilding forums you will frequently run across the acronym, IIFYM (if it fits your macros). “If It Fits Your Macros” is a school of thought that so long as you eat the appropriate amount of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) you will get the results you want. When you come in for a consultation with myself or Dr. Cooper, we will typically give you two numbers; a calorie goal and a carbohydrate goal. We focus on these two numbers because when it comes to fat loss, these are what you need to get right in order to get results.

Calorie counting is important, since you can physically only lose as much weight as the amount of fat you burn for fuel. There are, of course, other factors that impact weight loss.  But when it comes down to it, the single most important factor is whether or not you consume fewer calories than you expend. Calories will also tend to control your food choices a bit, since fat has more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein, you can only eat so much fat while staying within your targeted calorie range.

When we provide nutritional counseling, we spend a significant amount of time discussing the importance of reducing or (nearly) eliminating carbohydrates from the diet. The reason for this is two fold:

  • Firstly, consuming carbohydrates can cause insulin spikes, and since insulin is an anabolic hormone this is the last thing you want while attempting to lose weight. (anabolic hormones essentially tell your body to grow with no concern for how, and in most cases make you grow wider)
  • Secondly, your body prefers to burn glucose (carbohydrates) because it is easier than burning fat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you are constantly fighting your appetite the last thing you want to do is to put off burning fat for later. Basically, the fewer carbs you consume, the more time you will spend burning body fat as your primary fuel source and the time your body spends adjusting to a constantly changing diet.

While there is always more to learn, especially about nutrition and health, if you remember to focus on these two elements of your diet you should see the progress you want. By keeping your calories low and largely avoiding carbohydrates, you can put you body in the best position to burn fat and when it comes to losing weight, every little bit of help is welcome.

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