I don’t know about you, but I find calories incredibly confusing. Well, not calories themselves, I understand they are a measurement of energy, but how many calories am I supposed to eat a day? Is there a minimum? A maximum? Does it matter what kind of food they come from? Or is a calorie a calorie?
I am a big fan of diet shows, and I was watching Secret Eaters with my usual glee (I’m a Sugar Snaffler, always think of myself as a savoury person, but I love a sugar rush!), when I decided to write this blog about my general calorie confusion. The woman was eating 4,400 calories a day, and had been advised to cut it to 1,800. Of course, she was given a diet plan of healthy, nutritious food to follow, and lost a significant amount of weight. But a lot the fad diets, Slim Fast, Cookie Diet, Herbalife, seem to rely on the fact that you can drastically decrease your caloric intake, and replace food with sugary tasting chemicals. This implies a calorie is a calorie. As long as you’re eating less of them than your body needs to function, you will lose weight. Whether or not a fad diet is a sustainable and long term answer to weight issues, is another issue entirely (my view, no.).
Has anyone read/watched any of Dr Sam Feltham’s experiments? They’re fascinating. He is trying to prove his theory that a calorie is not a calorie, and the type of food the calorie comes from is more important than the number of calories consumed, (the word “calorie” has lost all meaning for me, calorie calorie calorie). He has embarked on a number of experiments, eating the same amount of calories, but from different food sources. I recommend you read them here. And he does seem to have proved that a calorie is not a calorie, no matter where it comes from, and it does matter what kind of food you eat.
So the confusion deepens, it both matters how many calories I eat, and it doesn’t matter as long as they come from healthy food. Science is letting me down and confusing me. Don’t even get me started on the five small meals a day, constant snacking, intermittent fasting debate (I’ll probably bring this up in the next few days, I’m currently trying intermittent fasting).
I’ve decided that best way to deal with the pesky calorie situation is to not count them, and to eat healthy food when I’m hungry, and stop eating when I’m full. This is tricky, but I started doing this at the beginning of lent (day after pancake day), and I’ll keep it up until Easter. 40 days and some Sundays gives this solution long enough to see if this works for me. If not, well, I will try and avoid going back on the Slim Fast!