Sandy Hall is a teen librarian from New Jersey where she was born and raised. She has a BA in Communication and a Master of Library and Information Science from Rutgers University. When she isn't writing, or teen librarian-ing, she enjoys reading, marathoning TV shows, and long scrolls through Tumblr. A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT is her first novel.
Calories In-Calories Out 1 Week Make Over For Weigh Lossby Sandy Hall
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"Just eat less and move more." It's the standard advice given for weight loss and one of the first "rules" of healthy living that I ran afoul of. It didn't work that way for me. To which adherents usually explain, rather testily, that it's math and you can't argue with math. "It's calories in versus calories out! Simple!" But in my experience there are more variables in the equation than that.
Back when I was first trying to lose weight the healthy way (let's be honest, I've been trying to lose weight by various means my entire life), I figured if some diet and exercise were good then more must be better. I slashed my calories and upped my workouts and over a period of a few months, I lost a few pounds and then plateaued. So I took my calories down more and added more exercise (by which point I'd officially left "the healthy way" in the dust). And I gained weight. If the math was correct, how could I be eating less calories than a child, exercising like a professional athlete and still be gaining weight? My math didn't add up.
The reason is pretty clear in hindsight: I'd killed my metabolism. Indeed, I had that medically verified when my doctor told me my thyroid was underfunctioning due to the strain I'd put on it from overexercising. So the math equation has a third variable, metabolism. And that variable is influenced by hundreds of other variables like genetics, sleep, stress, pollution and, yes, food. Our "simple" equation has morphed into quite the complex formula. New findings from a longitudinal study from Harvard that followed 120,877 healthy, non-obese, and well-educated adults for 12-20 years confirm is that it's really not about the calories.
It's not often that research actually makes me stand up and do a fist pump so here's the money quote from lead researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health. "What you eat makes quite a difference. Just counting calories won't matter much unless you look at the kinds of calories you're eating." And this is what it has taken me the better part of a decade to learn about myself. Note: he doesn't say that counting calories doesn't work, ever, just that it's more important to worry about the nutrient density of your food than the caloric density.
He adds, "There are good foods and bad foods, and the advice should be to eat the good foods more and the bad foods less. The notion that it's O.K. to eat everything in moderation is just an excuse to eat whatever you want."
The rub comes in defining what is a "good" food and what is a "bad" food. (My one little quibble with the study: must we call them "bad" and "good"? Food is not a moral choice, it can't be bad or good. Could we call it healthiest and least healthy? Or something?) The researchers tried to quantify this by looking at correlations between intake of certain foods and weight gain. The list is mostly unsurprising – hey chips and pop are bad for you! – but I found it very interesting nonetheless.
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