The other day as I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I came across a recipe that someone had shared, with the usual comment “Super healthy so you’re going to lose weight just by eating this!” or something to that effect. Normally I would just keep scrolling, but this one really caught my eye given all of the so called “healthy” ingredients that the recipe was calling for. While they may have in fact had some sound nutritional benefits, the ingredients were also INSANELY high in calories. Over the years I’ve become quite adept at adding up calories in my head merely based upon portions sizes, and after closer inspection (and a bit of research just to be sure) I discovered that these supposedly “super healthy weight loss pancakes” were actually 1100 calories per serving! 1100 calories!!! And that’s not even including the massive quantities of “healthy toppings” such as coconut, maple syrup, and peaches, that the recipe provided as optional. While again, all of these foods may in fact be “healthy”, people seem to rationalize that if something is “good for them” that it will help them to lose weight, and that calories from “healthy” foods don’t count.
After a quick rant to Coach Donna on the subject, she was in agreement that there was a blog article in there somewhere. So here it is people: HEALTHY RECIPES ARE MAKING YOU FAT!
We live in a world where there are a million brands trying to sell you weight loss by taking this next great pill, doing this next great exercise, avoiding this next “worse food” that’s making you fat, or eating this next great superfood that will make you skinny. In reality, weight loss comes down to one key principle: calories in vs calories out. In other words: calories consumed in the form of food, versus calories expended through physiological functions and activity. That’s really all there is to a basic weight loss plan. Calories from avocado and flaxseed count just the same as calories from a Big Mac.
While the title of this article might make it seem like my issue is with kale and gluten free pasta, my real issue is with the fact that people are demonizing processed foods, and glorifying high calorie foods merely based upon their nutritional profile or lack of gluten or whatever the latest nutritional demon is this week, all the while overlooking the very large number of calories that so many of these “healthy” foods contain.
For instance, take the “healthy” pancakes that I saw on Facebook and compare them to a serving of Aunt Jemima’s boxed pancake mix. One serving of Aunt Jemima’s is 110 calories, vs. 1100 for the gluten free, coconut everything, pancake recipe that is “good for you”. Let me just say, there is nothing good for you about type 2 diabetes, and that’s exactly where all of these healthy recipes can take you if you don’t pay attention to the calories in the foods you eat.
Are we saying you should eat processed food instead of cleaner alternatives? No! By all means, eat your veggies! Eat nutritionally dense foods that contain all kinds of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. But don’t just assume that because a recipe claims to be “healthy” that it will help you to lose weight. Weight loss is achieved through a caloric deficit, regardless of the source. The kinds of food that you eat are entirely up to you, but just be sure you aren’t overlooking this key detail. If you want to lose weight, how calorie dense, and how much of a food you eat is the key factor in accomplishing this. Processed or “clean”, all calories are equal when it comes to weight loss.