Losing Weight for Health Means Tracking More Than Calories
If you want to lose weight, you can usually bank on cutting calories and exercising as your main two strategies. That said, if you’re doing it because you actually want to be healthy, then you’re going to have to pay attention to a lot more than that.
Ever heard of the Twinkie Diet? Or the McDonald’s Diet? Yes, if you can stand doing that day in and day out (has anyone actually done it?) you may meet your weight goals on the scale. However, in terms of nutrition and overall wellbeing, you may not meet any goals at all.
Remember, all calories are not created equal. You will get an awful lot more for your body per-calorie from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leans meats and healthy fats than you ever will from highly refined, processed and packaged products, especially junk food. Yes, you could technically eat the right number of chips to meet your calorie goals and you may even lose weight, but will you do much for your wellness? Not at all.
In fact, the reason I’m writing this post right now is that I’ve just finished reading about a study on the impact of highly processed foods. What did it find? People who eat these convenience foods on a regular basis will, on average, experience an earlier death. That’s right. The junk food we love so much and that some of us (me!) call comfort foods is actually killing us. It is shortening our lives.
Moreover, it isn’t doing it kindly. It doesn’t just cause us to gracefully drop in our tracks, pain-free a year or two before our salad-eating counterparts. Instead, it is leading to chronic, painful, and very expensive conditions. These include heart disease, diabetes and over a dozen types of cancers.
The research was published in the JAMA Internal Medicine medical journal. The research analyzed the data of over 44,000 people over a span of seven years. It found a direct connection between eating a diet consistently high in heavily processed foods with a risk of dying younger.
With every 10 percent increase in the amount of these types of junk food that an individual ate, there was a 14 percent higher risk of dying younger. During the time span of the study, 602 of the people died. Of those, 34 were from cardiovascular disease and 219 were from cancer.
This has given me a lot to think about. Realistically, I know I can’t eliminate junk food from my diet. I don’t even want to. I love junk food. But for me, it’s going to become a treat. Maybe something I enjoy for dinner and dessert one day on weekends or something like that. I’m definitely banning myself from it during the week. I’m working hard to lose weight. I’m not going to go through all this to die young!