When looking to lose weight, the first thing many turns to is their diet. Turning to diet first makes perfect sense because what you eat and how much you eat plays a large part in your health.

Many of us try taking on a new way of eating to help shed off those pesky pounds. Taking on challenges such as low carbohydrate intake, cutting out sweets, or eating more protein may be options we explore. But many fail to focus their attention on where the calories they consume are coming from. Where the calories come from greatly affects how the body will react.

Diet Fads of the Past

The truth is that there are still old fads that have been perceived as being true. These diets include:

  • The Raw Food Diet
  • Alkaline Diets
  • The Blood Type Diet
  • The Werewolf Diet
  • The Five-Bite Diet
  • The Cabbage Soup Diet
  • The Grapefruit Diet

Why do most Fad Diets not work?

The reason that these fad diets tend to fail, is that they focus on the wrong aspects of your diet. The focus tends to be:

  • Focusing too heavily on how food is prepared
  • Cutting back calories in a general, unfocused manner
  • Dropping calories at an unsafe rate

Calorie Sources and Why They Matter

It is important to balance out calories and make sure that they are from the appropriate sources. Cutting back on calories alone will not do the job.

Calorie Source Example

  • A Snickers bar contains 215 calories.
  • A protein smoothie made with chocolate whey protein powder and a banana also contains 200 calories.

Somebody eating a diet based on calorie intake alone may think that both are an okay option for the same result. But now let’s break things down and see why these are not equal sources of calories.

We will use NUTRABIO® chocolate whey protein powder as an example source of calories.

Protein Smoothie: 1 serving of NUTRABIO® and 1 small banana

Banana

Amount Per 1 small (6″ to 6-7/8″ long) (101 g)
Calories: 90
Total Fat: 0.3 g
Saturated fat: 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 1 mg
Potassium: 362 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 23 g
Dietary fiber: 2.6 g
Sugar: 12 g
Protein: 1.1 g
Vitamin A: 1%       Vitamin C: 14%
Calcium: 0%        Iron: 1%
Vitamin D: 0%       Vitamin B-6: 20%
Vitamin B-12: 0%    Magnesium: 6%

NUTRABIO®

Serving Size: 1 Scoop
Calories: 110
Servings Per Container: 29
Total Fat: 0.5g
Total Carbohydrate: 2g
Phosphorus: 62mg
Magnesium: 22mg
Calcium: 140mg
Sodium: 50mg
Potassium: 170mg
Dietary Fiber: Less than 1g
Protein: 25g
Cholesterol: less than 5mg

Now let’s take a look at that Snickers bar:

Snickers Bar

calories, snickers bar

Amount Per 1 serving 1.56 oz bar (44 g)
Calories: 215
Total Fat: 11 g
Saturated fat: 6 g
Trans fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Sodium: 83 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 28
Dietary fiber: 0.8 g
Sugar: 20 g
Protein: 3 g
Vitamin A: 1%  Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 4%   Iron: 1%

Can you see the difference?

Both the Snickers bar and smoothie are within that 200 to 215 calorie range. But if you take a look at the contents, they have some differences that are important to note.

  • Saturated Fat: The protein smoothie contains 0.1 g of saturated fat as opposed to the 6 grams in the Snickers bar. A 2,000 calorie a day diet allows about 13 grams of saturated fat, making this one candy bar take up half of the daily limit.
  • Protein: The smoothie contains 26 grams of protein with 25 being from a high-quality source. The snickers bar contains 3 grams of protein which is not necessarily good quality. Quality sources of protein help promote several health benefits such as muscle growth and healthy hair.
  • Sugar: The smoothie contains 12 grams of naturally occurring sugar from the banana. But the Snickers bar contains 20 grams of sugar which includes corn syrup and added sugar. (Read about the difference between naturally occurring and added sugar here.)
  • Vitamin Content: The Snickers bar contains very little vitamin content. While the banana in the smoothie contains good amounts of vitamin C, B-6, and Magnesium.
  • Dietary Fiber: The small banana contains roughly 3 times the amount of dietary fiber when compared to the candy bar. Dietary fiber plays an important role in preventing heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some types of cancer. Many people do not get enough fiber in their diet due to selecting the wrong foods.

So there you have it. Not all foods are created equal!

The Takeaway

When losing weight, it is important to look at your macronutrients as well as the foods you eat. Some great areas to start  for general dieting are:

ReplaceWith
High-fat meatLean alternatives
Processed/simple carbohydratesWhole grain options
Processed snacks such as chipsProduce and healthy nutrition rich alternatives
High sugar drinks such as soda and fruit juiceWater, tea, and other healthy alternatives
Simple calorie cuttingPrecise Macro tracking (as needed)

Calorie Calculator for Tracking

When tracking your diet, especially if working off of macronutrients, there are tools available to help you. One great tool to take a look at, which allows you to customize macros, is MyFitnessPal. This free app/website is a great start to really seeing just what you are putting into your body and where you can stand to do some adjusting.

DISCLAIMER: The nutritional information shared in this article is in relation to general nutrition. When undergoing bariatric surgery, it is important that patients adhere to dietary guidelines specific to their needs.

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