Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eat Less, or Eat Better. Pick One or Both

We all know how to lose less. I know the "experts" say to eat less and exercise more, but I don't agree with the last part. Sure you have to exercise but you can't "out-snatch a doughnut", and you shouldn't "use" exercise to try to balance out those binges...but that's a different blogpost. The point of this blogpost is that your current bodyweight is supported by the amount of calories you eat. It's not a mystery. To lower the weight of your body you need to change the amount of calories you are eating. You need to eat less, but how about different? Can you eat more "better" foods and still lose weight?

Are the calories in a bowl of oatmeal better than the calories in a bagel? Are the calories in a bagel better than the calories in a cupcake? Nutritionally some foods are "better" than others, of course.

"Better" more nutritious foods are usually lower in calories so it stands to reason that you can, in fact, eat more of them.....But at the end of the day it's calories in, calories out. Pure science. You can still overeat "better" foods and not lose bodyweight.

You would think that I would be used to the amounts, and the kinds of foods that are so readily available, but everyday I'm amazed at the abundance. You can't drive 1 mile without passing a dozen markets, bakeries, fast food, ice cream/frozen yogurt places. You can't go into a market without being assaulted by shelves of candy or seasonal treats the moment you step in the door or stand next to the cashier. And to be honest, I'm tempted, practically everyday, to buy and eat things I would never normally even think about if they weren't everywhere, God forbid they go "on sale".

All I can say is that it's a good thing I always have "better" food at home, and 99% of the time it's ready for me to just come home and serve it up....coming home to get it is the key! If I'm going to be away from home for an extended period I pack some snacks with me, a piece of fruit, some nuts, lately a couple of slices of meatloaf, but sometimes I let myself be away from home longer than I planned thinking I can wait.....but when you get hungry......

It would be so easy to buy something. (I actually had to quit practicing at one particular yoga studio because it was next to a Subway and the smell of fresh bread at noontime was way too
distracting.) It's rare that I cave in, but I do find myself seriously debating it in my head. If I didn't have good food at home I'm not sure I could resist to be honest. That's why it doesn't surprise me that most people don't. Most people don't give themselves the option of better food.

Calories add up fast and if given the choice of 1/2 cup Hagen Daaz to 2 c yogurt with a tablespoon of brown sugar, I'd chose the yogurt. (Of course I could never eat only 1/2 ice cream...that's just impossible.....) Most often I choose more nutritious foods that are less calorie dense, but lately I haven't been motivated to eat less calories overall. So in the mean time I'll keep eating well and when I can eat less I will.

You can't fool yourself into thinking you can overeat just because a food or meal is "healthy". Take a salad for instance....rule of thumb.....measure out the salad dressing first (up to 200-250 cal), then the protein (3-4 oz = 150-200 cal) and add as many veggies as you can while keeping the flavor of the salad enjoyable. Once you start to add more are overeating! But a larger salad is way "better" than a cheeseburger and fries (around 600 cal), especially if you don't make either of them yourself.

Eat less when you can, if you want to weigh less. Know the calorie content of the foods you eat to make educated decisions, whether you are eating a bowl of oats or a cupcake. Extra bodyweight doesn't "just happen".


Maribel said...

"educate yourself" that is the key! I've learned so much about food in the last year. I mean, I already knew a lot about food, but I feel like there's so much more to learn.

Remember when I was at a plateau and I couldn't figure out why? Breaking out all the ingredients in my oatmeal was a big eye opener. In my mind I was eating "oatmeal", but add the honey, nuts, or whatever else you add and the count can jump.

Diana said...

Grocery stores, bakeries, and all the other stores out there spend many hours and dollars on how/where to put food in the stores....we as amaricans have, unfortunately, gotten stupid because people rely on what they are being told must be "right" or the "truth". People allow others to make up there minds for them...they listen to the words of Oprah, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, they are Gods delivered here to fix all our problems and "tell" us what is right. All those folks really don't give a rats you-know-what about us. It's always just the all mighty benjamins in the end. We are continuously bombarded by food, all processed. It's sad, it really is. I can obviously go on and on, but I'll put this rant to rest!

Candice said...

Tracy, this post hits home for me, especially right now. I've cut out sugar, all refined foods.. been working out at least 5 days a week, and I have been hovering at the same weight.

It's a sore realization that even though I eat clean, I am still very much over eating. (Still eating for emotional comfort - even though it's a warm kale salad.) My treats consist of overeating green tipped bananas and almond butter and cheeses. And perhaps too much bacon.

Thanks for this post, going to be more thoughtful of my portions. Cheers!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I remember quite well when you hit that palteau...and the first thing I told you was that you were eating too many calories!

I need to write more about this because it's such an emotional subject when we think we are working so hard and being "so good" and it seems like it's not paying off. Removing yourself from the bad emotions and looking at it from a purely scientific level sometimes provides the relief we need....but that depends on how screwed up you are....kidding.....

Tracy Reifkind said...


I don't think it's stupidity, I think it's laziness.

I consider myself pretty educated when it comes to nutrition and the only time I'm tempted is when I'm lazy because it's so easy and convenient....even though I know I can be home in 15 minutes or less eating better foods sometimes I just want to pop those mini toostie rolls in my mouth!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Bananas, almond butter, cheese and bacon....that'll do it all right!

Carla Coates said...

Eat less and better and exercise! lol, Thank you for this blog Tracy. I have been following it since I read 4HB. Right from the time you started it. So many of the feelings you have, I also have. "Can never get enough, need to eat A LOT to feel satified, if I buy it I eat it", etc. My story is similar to yours. Was over 200 pounds and lost 100. I have been able to keep most of the weight off for 4 years by eating basically veggies, proteins, and exercise. Then menopause hit and I gained about 20 pounds in the last year and have not been able to get the weight off.I tried Tim's slow carb diet but I was one of the 2% of people it didn't work for, and I stuck to it pretty faithfully. I was eating too many beans!! I have had to cut the beans out for now. I am very carb sensitive. The thing that brought me to your blog really was the kettle bells. I have been doing them now 3 times a week for over two months and am finally seeing results. Like you say consistency. I love the kettlebells. They are very addicting for me, I can't wait till my next work out. I appreciate this blog so much cause it really motivates me to keep going when I was almost ready to give up. I will NOT be fat again.

Anonymous said...

When I met you at RKC in August I would never have guessed that you had been following a similar path to me. I was 2 stone overweight and lost this 10 years ago. Keeping the weight off has been a constant battle, sometimes reaching a plateau, sometimes putting back on and then losing more-this summer I was the lightest I'd been since 1984! Like you I'm constantly adapting my diet and looking for ways to improve. I try to take food with me too when I know temptation will be too much. I like your blog because you combine both kettlebells and diet.
Chris Skeats

Tracy Reifkind said...


I'm not a big fan of beans for weightloss, but then again, it's not what you eat but how much you eat...and if you want to get all "psycho-analytical" about it, how you eat, in other words do you have certain feelings that drive you to eat, or overeat?

My kettlebell training keeps me in touch with my body and how it feels. It doesn't feel good to be fat anymore so it's a non issue.

congratulations on your own success!

Tracy Reifkind said...


How are you? I'm not sure you mentioned to me your own story when we met? I don't think so. anyway, looking back I should have spent more time hanging our with his team and all of you guys but sometimes I have to be careful not to step on anybody's toes....

Thanks for your comments!