So, I am not a nutritionist or a dietician. Heck, I don't even focus on nutrition for weight loss in most cases. I don't count calories or disect my every meal for the proper concentrations of micro and macronutrients. Sure as I eat a grapefruit every day of winter I help my clients food journal and make sure they are not calorie/nutrient deficient, food is incredibly important! I just don't subscribe to any one thing. Mostly for my sanity.
But here is something I just came across and I feel that it needs some hashing out.
I recently tested out a new app on my phone that is stellar at motivation, behavioral change facilitation, health coaching, engagement, calorie and step tracking but there were a few things that were red flags for me. These issues are not only found on this app, I see them in other point system weight loss programs as well, some of which I have zero doubt you've heard of or maybe tried.
The potential problems I came up against:
When calculating my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the amount of energy (calories) we need in a day to sustain life (AKA lounging around in bed all day), I came up with a number that was higher than the system put me on. Ok, that was a mouth full. In other words my calorie intake was set at 1200 cal but according to my calculations the minimum I needed to be in bed all day is actually closer to 1400 calories/day.
Why does this matter? Well, for one, our bodies need to have a certain amount of intake to function properly, that includes functioning in the fat metabolism department so we can lose weight. Second, I'm a pretty active person and much of my weight comes from muscle, not just an oversupply of fat. Muscle requires more calories than fat does so there's a potential that I'm even further in the negative.
My major concern with this is that (particularly as a woman) my body might go into "starvation mode" rather than actually burn the fat like I wanted it to. So, setting calories too low can really backfire on you. Not to mention, since the focus was on calories not on macronutrients, there's no telling if my calorie reduction left any major gaps in my diet; which would also send signals to my body that things are off and send it into a tissy to get it back on track again.
I feel the need to get into this because there are a lot of programs out there that put a really heavy focus on calories or points and for the most part they are great, there are some key situations where they can really trip you up.
For instance, another client of mine was telling me about how bananas were "0" points on the program she was using, which sure makes it seem like they don't have many calories right? So, maybe you could eat a couple in a day or simply not give them a thought. But the average banana is about 105 calories and a lot of that is sugar and if you're honing in on other low point but high calorie foods, you could be spinning your wheels big time and mentally that can do a serious number on your psyche.
So, the moral of the story is make sure you eat ENOUGH food to sustain your daily activities in a healthy way. You can still have a significant daily calorie reduction and be above your BMR. And secondly, be mindful of the healthy foods that might be sneaking in the calories you were trying to leave out. If you are using a point system check on the foods you gravitate towards from time to time just to be sure you are on the right track, or have a buddy, health coach, personal trainer, program mentor double check your work.
Eat lots of colors and enjoy!
I am an Exercise Physiologist and mother of two lovely ladies. I love teaching my community about health and wellness and I love helping likeminded people implement natural solutions into their everyday lives.