All Calories Are NOT Created Equal

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Reboot = Less Counting and More Eating/Drinking

In today’s diet-crazed culture, calorie counting and tracking daily tallies for protein grams or fat percentages are rampant. A quick search for “diet” shows that there are hundreds of free or inexpensive iPhone apps to track the details of what you eat, your exercise and weight loss. Google returns an incredible 628,000,000 results for the search “diet”. Yet with all this technology and information we are a global society that is confused about what, when and how much to eat. All of this calculating has led us away from viewing our diets as what it is truly supposed to be made up of: Food. Instead we all get caught up in the “shoulds” of quantifying macronutrients like carbs, proteins and fats. Enter a Reboot and relief from number crunching.

What is a calorie? A calorie (also known as kilocalorie) is a measurement of energy. It is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.* But most of the time we don’t talk about the science of calories but boil this measurement down to “too much” or “not enough.” The science of calories shows that restricting or having a bit less then we need to maintain our weight is best for promoting longevity and other aspects of health and wellness.** We are all too familiar with the down-sides of “too many” calories like weight gain and increased risk for many diseases. The big question is, does it matter where we get our calories from?

This is a hot topic that is disputed by just about everyone you ask in the medical field or on the street. Some say we should eat a “Low Carb, High Protein Diet” or a “Low Fat Diet” or a “Low Carb, High Fat, High Protein Diet” or a “Moderate Protein, Low Fat Low Glycemic Index Diet”, the list goes on and on (and on!). Other research shows that it doesn’t matter where the calories come from just the total amount are relevant. Are you feeling confused? By breaking down foods into macronutrient categories, we move further away from nature. In nature we eat food. Or in the case of your Reboot you are eating and drinking food. This is what I’d like us to focus on.

To make these energy sources truly “count” with regard to your health, getting most if not all of them from plant foods is best. One of the best parts about the Reboot is that because of the nature of the foods you are ingesting – all fruits and vegetables with some herbs and spices which are each packed with potent phytonutrients– you can tune in and listen to your body to figure out the “right amount” for you to consume each day. There are some general guidelines such as:

  • Strive for mostly veggies with some fruits (like 80% veg and 20% fruit)
  • Drink or eat 4-6 times per day
  • Drink plenty of water

Hard and fast calculations and counting are not a requirement of the Reboot, and can actually get in the way of allowing you to tap into your own internal cues for hunger and fullness. Learning how to self-regulate your eating and knowing when to have more and when you are finished can take practice, but this system is something we are hard wired with as humans. Unfortunately we un-learn this skill due to cultural and societal cues.

The types of foods we choose to eat or drink can also help us to stay in tune with our hunger and satiety signals. Foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains are full of the nutrients our body is requesting. When we experience hunger it is really our body asking for energy and nutrients. The easiest ways to recognize when we are full is to include high fiber and high nutrient dense foods that are minimally processed. The fiber expands in our stomach triggering nerves that tell our brain we’ve had enough. The nutrients get delivered around the body and these delivery sites also signal to our brain that we’ve consumed enough through different pathways or mechanisms. With juice, although the insoluble fibers are removed, the soluble fiber remains to play its role in hunger and fullness recognition.

However, I believe that the main reason juice helps us feel so satisfied is the huge amount of nutrients we can easily absorb through the delivery system of fresh juice. The flipside of this is true too. Consuming foods and fluids that are highly processed and lacking in fiber and nutrients means that we have a harder time figuring out when we are full. This leads to overeating and is the root cause of the phrase, overfed and undernourished. We end up eating or drinking too many calories with too few nutrients. Since our body doesn’t get the nutrients it was asking for in the first place, we keep eating and end up taking in more energy then we need, which gets converted to fat.

If you have weight to lose and find at any point in your Reboot this weight loss slows or stalls you may want to take a closer look at the quantity and combinations of produce you are juicing or eating. Here are tips on breaking through a weight loss plateau.

If you have any questions about how to create the best Reboot plan for you don’t hesitate to reach out.

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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