balance on.....blogging beginnings and counting calories

Welcome to the the first ever balance weight loss blog! It’s taken a fair bit of reading web pages that we didn’t really understand to get to this point, so it’s nice to be able to start writing!

We’ll be posting regularly on weight loss, health and well being, including:

  • News - the latest research and press coverage for all things weight loss, health and well being.
  • Recipes - we’ll be giving you a range of healthy alternatives to your all-time favourites, ideas for healthy snacks and recipes using a range of healthy foods. All will be based on our ‘ten pillars of nutrition’.
  • Exercise advice - at home, outside, or in the gym, we’ll show you how to fit activity into your everyday lives with practical examples of awesome exercises and simple, effective training programmes.
  • Success stories - we love to praise those who’ve achieved their goals, so we’ll be sharing their achievements and how they did it with you, to motivate you and give you ideas for your own journey.
  • Our own research and reading - we like to keep on top of the science and we’re keen to share what we find with you. We’ll put together articles on a range of topics, everything from sleep to stress management, from food to fitness, from what works for your mind to what works for your body. If you want us to write about anything in particular, just ask and we’ll create a post just for you!

We thought we’d start with a look at something that appeared in the news recently. These days, you can’t go more than 24 hours without seeing a TV programme or a news story about weight loss, food, exercise, health and well being!! In many ways this is fantastic as it raises people’s awareness of the subjects and gets them thinking about their own health. We do however work with people who tell us they’re confused by all the conflicting information that they read and see from day to day. “Fish is really good for you as it’s packed full of Omega 3” or “the seas are polluted so be careful with fish as it may be full of chemicals”, “make sure to get your five portions of fruit and vegetables each day”, or “fruit is high in sugar and may increase your risk of diabetes.” Which one is true? Who should I trust? Sometimes it’s not easy to know, so we’ll be helping to make it simple to understand by offering you a balanced view (pun very much intended)!

Last week the Daily Mail had a story about a research study that they say tells us that counting calories is meaningless. Is this the case? 

Have a look for yourself

The findings suggest that the calories on food labels might not be correct, especially in processed foods where they may often underestimate the calories. It also showed that different people processed foods differently and as such may absorb different amounts of calories from the same foods. There’s a lot of good messages in this article to take away, including:

  • Just counting calories may not be an effective way of losing weight, and certainly won’t guarantee good health.
  • People are different! Foods that work for one may not work for another. You’ll need to learn over time how you respond to different foods and use a little trial and error to discover what works for you.
  • Real foods are best! If it grew in the ground or on a tree, or it lived and died and not much happened to it afterwards, it’s probably good for you. If it was processed, and it’s advertised on TV, it’s probably not!
  • Healthy cooking can be a recipe for success - steaming is particularly good for you and the odd bit of raw food can be great. Don’t go mad on this, there have been a number of cases of people experiencing severe health issues with extreme raw food diets, and there is research to suggest it lowers HDL cholesterol and raises levels of markers of inflammation in the body. In fact, most fad diets like this purely work because they restrict you from consuming as many calories as you normally would, there’s no magic going on.

To count or not to count?

When we work with clients we don’t ask our clients to count calories and arguably you don’t need to. If you eat real foods you’ll get full fairly quickly and absorb the nutrients you need. If you eat processed foods it’s easy to over-consume as they don’t contain what your body needs, leaving it hungry for more. They do however have refined sugars, trans-fats and other unhealthy substances that play around with your blood sugars and insulin levels, making you hungry again soon after.

This is not to say that calories are irrelevant, far from it. If someone eats too much they can gain weight, if they don’t eat enough they can lose weight. This is undeniable. If somebody finds it helps to count calories by measuring portion sizes and it works for them, well that’s great and it should not be discouraged. People need to find their own ways to achieve balance in life and balance on the scales!

If you’re considering making lifestyle changes to lose weight, remember that for thousands of years before food labelling and 'low-fat’ or 'lite’ foods existed, people successfully managed their weight by being in tune with their body’s, eating when they were hungry and stopping when they were full. Oh, and you won’t see a fat lion very often!!

We hope you enjoyed our first instalment, we’ll be back soon with lots more to help you balance your life and balance your scales. :-)