Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, is the James Beard award-winning lead dietitian on the Cooking Light Diet.
Watch the video to see Carolyn explain what NOT to focus on (calories) when you’re trying to lose weight, and what TO focus on instead. The good news is that the Cooking Light Diet was built to focus on all the right things, making it easy to get started with a healthy meal plan.
For years we focused on the calories in, calories out concept – meaning that to lose weight, the calories that you took in each day from food and drink needed to be less than the calories that you were burning.
But if you’ve ever followed a low-calorie diet or watched calories, you’ve probably noticed that the math just doesn’t always seem to add up when you step on the scale.
Part of that has to do with the body being a lot more complex than simple math. But the other part has to do with the nutrients in those foods.
This is 1400 calories: Coffee drink, bagel, sub sandwich, some chips.
This is also 1400 calories from the Cooking Light Diet: Scrambled eggs, pita pizza, sheet pan of nachos, some snacks. It’s a lot more food. And this is a great example of how looking at just the calories doesn’t always determine the healthfulness of the food.
This is also why looking at just calories shouldn’t be your only concern when you’re trying to lose weight.
So do calorie matter? Technically, yes, because calories are what we base our underlying nutrient needs on. Also, an excess of any calories from any food – carbohydrate, fat, protein – can cause you to gain weight.
But you don’t necessarily need to focus your weight loss on a specific calorie goal. You need to also look at the foods within those calories and the nutrients in them. Also, focusing on high-quality foods while you’re trying to lose weight has a big impact on satiety, energy, hunger and cravings.
So how do you focus on enjoying good food without worrying about calories? Focus on whole, less-processed foods, and simple family-friendly recipes. Or you could find a meal plan that helps you do that like the Cooking Light Diet!.
“I think before the Cooking Light Diet, diet food meant rabbit food and not diet food meant whatever I wanted. And there was very little in between for me. And I think that’s why in the past diets never worked.
It’s variety. And so that fridge is full of tons of variety but all very healthy and very balanced variety.”