“Calories in, calories out” has translated into a 95% dieting failure rate.
This overly simplistic equation assumes your body is a machine. And the only “input” it registers is a calorie.
In reality, your body is an intelligent ecosystem, responding and recalibrating to environmental “inputs” like:
- The information contained in calories (called nutrition!)
- Emotional stress
- Environmental stress (significant calorie cutting, antibiotics, water quality, etc).
The inputs will register as stress or support. The more they register as support, the more calories you burn. The more they register as “stress”, the less calories (and more hungry you become!) you burn. Calories out matter more than calories in.
For example, consider a 150 pound woman who wants to lose 20 pounds and cuts her calories down to 1,200. This will signal “famine” or stress to the body. She’ll burn less calories daily.
Or take the traveling four out of five days/week executive who religiously puts in five miles a day on the treadmill. This much cardio with this pace of life will register as a stress. This exercise intensity with this lifestyle registers as a stress because it increases cortisol (which creates carb cravings!) while simultaneously slowing down her metabolism.
They’d both support their body and burn more with less calorie cutting and exercise!
Or as some of my clients discover, adding in more healthy fats registers as support and they lose more weight eating more as their “calories out” is so much greater.
One of the foundational ways to support your body is to get your gut healthy.
When your gut is healthy, you support your body and yourself because you:
- Absorb the maximum nutrition from the calories you eat so you support your body’s needs, making you feel satiated
- Support your body’s natural detox ability, eliminating bloating and puffiness
- Feel more emotionally resilient as you support the serotonin and dopamine production made in your gut, decreasing cravings for “bad” foods
- Create a diverse gut microbiome which naturally changes your taste buds and supports you wanting to make the “clean”, healthy choice
- Eliminate stress signals in the body that create anxiety, depression and mood swings and restore calm
An unhealthy gut stresses the body, reducing your caloric burn. The more you stress your body, the more defensive it gets.
For example, unfolding research (which is thrilling scientists) shows how gut health affects weight. In one example, antibiotic use stresses your gut and is then shown to contribute to weight gain. An unbalanced gut also stresses the body because it can cause cravings for “bad” foods. And processed carbs are the fastest way to watch the scale go up.
Just how stress makes your life more difficult and you more short-fused, the same happens to our body. Weight-gain is a symptom your body is on the defensive.
While much of this research is still unfolding, what we do know is that when we support gut health, weight loss becomes easier.
Nutritionally, a healthy gut involves simple support.
Gut support includes:
Gut stress and what you need to remove includes:
- Processed foods (artificial sweeteners included)
- Processed carbs
- Excess alcohol
Since my clients are tired and stressed from counting calories, I teach them to measure supportive health metrics like gut health because you get immediate, positive results.
For example, some of the fun you can expect as you support your gut health:
- Regular bowel movements which supports the neurotransmitters in your gut, reducing anxiety
- Eliminate bloating (my clients usually think they have big bellies but it’s often bloat)
- Better sleep which makes cravings and life better
- Changing taste buds that crave veggies and clean foods
- An overall sense of calm and confidence
- Glowing skin
- Absence of allergies to increase your energy
- Beautiful blood work and a decreasing need for medications
Can you see as you support your body, you also make life easier and more enjoyable for yourself?
As one of my Truce with Food clients who improved her gut health in the program discovered,
“My bloating and gas are gone and my skin is glowing. To think I thought I was doing everything right all these years! But my system was stressed, not supported, because I wasn’t eating the right foods for me. No wonder it was so hard. Food tastes good again and I’ve lost a couple pounds.”
Focusing on a generic calorie deficit won’t work.
But making life easier by focusing on your gut health? You’re firing on all cylinders, metabolism included!
This foundational importance of supporting your body’s needs means you have to understand it. That’s why in Truce with Food, we focus on what foods actually work to keep you and your gut supported, healthy and happy.
The first step support your gut health is to learn what diet – vegetarian, Mediterranean or Paleo – works best for you.
Or if you’d like a more in-depth understanding of your gut and it’s connection to weight loss and health, check out our Insatiable podcast episode Why the Gut Biome Negates Calories: