Shhhh…Wanna Know a Fat-Loss Secret? It’s Not About Calories!

By F!L!W! Chief Dietitian Samantha Mark, RD, CDN

“I’m counting calories.”

“How many calories are in that?”

“How many calories should I have in a day?”

Calories. It’s all we seem to talk about these days. What exactly are they? Most simply, calories measure the energy in foods and beverages.

Too many calories can cause weight gain while consuming fewer calories can lead to weight loss. (A Registered Dietitian can determine your individual needs based on your age, gender, activity level and other factors).

However, eating healthy is about more than just counting calories. They’ll always be important, and you should always try to stay within a healthy range, yet it is also important to consider what goes in your food. But how?

When shopping, after you have reviewed the food label and determined the nutrient value, consider the ingredient list (located directly underneath or to the side of the food label). It lists all of the ingredients in the food product in descending order (the most common ingredient is listed first). Many processed foods can have long lists that are full of additives (all of which are safe for consumption, of course).

One ingredient that should catch your eye: sugar. Too much of it in your diet can lead to weight gain, so be conscious of the amount you consume each day. (The American Heart Association recommends no more than about nine teaspoons of added sugar for men, and no more than about six for women). If sugar is among the top three ingredients, opt for a similar food that has a little less (unfortunately, the amount of sugar listed on the label does not distinguish between natural and added sugar).

High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup and brown sugar are just a few other ingredients to watch for.

One sure way to control the amount of ingredients in your food: buy “natural”. For example, in most cases frozen broccoli’s only

ingredient is broccoli. But buying a broccoli dish that comes in a sauce adds a slew of other ingredients.  If you are a juice drinker(try limiting yourself to four ounces per day) buy a 100% fruit juice, a pure juice product without added sugars.

Be smart in your choices. If you are very concerned about additives, opt for organics.

When shopping with a weight management agenda, it is very easy to get caught up on calories. But remember: calories give us a goal range for a healthy amount of food. We still must be mindful of what’s in the food.

Use the food label to help you count calories but use the ingredient list to make your foods count.

Until next time,

Sammi (@flwsammi)

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