Calorie Restriction without Calorie Quality|Destined for Weight Loss Failure

Posted on February 20, 2011


Most people, at some time in their life will try to lose weight. After a baby, after college binge-ing, before a wedding, before a race – at some point – everyone will probably try to shed some weight. And there are thousands of gimmick-y ways to drop that weight – what you don’t think about at the time though, is that the vast majority of them do you more disservice long-term than what their benefit is short term.

The latest one you’ve probably seen is from yogurt maker Yoplait – they say if you eat one of their yogurts, a fruit, and a grain for breakfast for 2 weeks, along with some kind of sensible food elsewhere in your day, you’ll lose weight quickly. If all you know about nutrition is what the calorie label says, you’d think “yep! healthy!” But that’s not the case at all. When you break down the functional nutrients in each food item, you’ll see that the yogurt/grain/fruit combo is a DISASTER for your health & weight.

Here’s the problems with this plan:
Yogurt – 
1) If it’s not Greek Yogurt, it’s not worth your time. Regular yogurt has a high amount of sugar and very low protein. Greek Yogurt is the opposite of that – as long as you’re getting plain or vanilla – don’t ever get swayed into buying fruit already mixed in yogurt, add your own and save calories and sugar grams. Protein feeds muscles. Sugar feeds fat cells. If it does not have a solid amount of protein, 11g or more is good, you’re feeding your fat cells predominantly. Not what you want to do when trying to lose or keep fat off. 

I always recommend Stonyfield Farm Oikos Greek yogurt, because it’s organic, and I try to avoid non-organic dairy because of the extremely low quality of the milk produced by factory farmed cows. If you want a high quality Greek Yogurt, but don’t want to pay a little more for the Oikos quality, Chobani is another fine yogurt. I checked out the new Dannon and Yoplait Greek Yogrts for you – Dannon Plain is the only one I’d recommend. Even the Dannon Vanilla has fructose in it – and as you’ll see in our next segment, you want to avoid fructose at all costs!!

2) Yogurt contains casein – a protein found in dairy products (but not in whey protein powder). Casein has the same brutal effects that gluten has on the body to someone sensitive to it. You do NOT have to be diagnosed with a casein sensitivity to experience the effects of casein on the body. Casein is very difficult to breakdown, is highly addictive, and in the body, has an opiate-like effect on the brain. It raises the inflammation level in the body & high inflammation = fat storage. If your inflammation levels are high, you will have difficulty losing weight.

Fruit –
Fruit sugars, known as fructose, break down in the body differently than table sugar. Do not believe any commercial that tells you “sugar is sugar.” It is not!! Regular sugar breaks down in the bloodstream, and then is either used for energy or stored as fat. Fructose is a sugar that breaks down in the liver and forms triglycerides – the chemical form of some fat in the body – the fructose part of your fruit literally will break down as fat. Think your cholesterol levels are controlled by how much red meat you eat? You actually also need to take a look at how much fructose you eat if you’re watching your cholesterol.

Fruit is best kept to a minimum if you want to be lean and fit. My naturopath wants me steering clear of fruit unless I’m eating it with a protein, and then only occasionally. I eat berries, an occasional apple, and 1/2 a banana when I have a long run scheduled. That’s about it for me. Here’s a chart on fructose grams in fruit so you can make your own decision. (scroll down on the linked page for the chart)

The Yoplait people want you eating some kind of grain along with your casein-opiod/yogurt & your fructose-triglycerides/fruit. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know my stance on glutenous grains. I AM gluten intolerant – you may not be – but you definitely are better served to keep gluten to a minimum in your diet. Gluten, like casein, is highly addictive, raises inflammation in the body (making it easier to hang on to fat), & causes breakdowns in the intestinal lining of the gut (where the majority of your immunity is stored, and where 80% of your serotonin, the chemical in our body that makes us feel happy is stored).

Eating a diet rich in gluten serves little purpose. There are bountiful amounts of gluten free grains – I enjoy many of them and want you too as well! I eat Rudi’s Gluten Free toast with my eggs in the morning, gluten-free oats for pre-long distance run meals, corn tortillas for my mexican-style lunches, and quinoa along with my grass-fed beef burgers for dinner. So as you see, you can still eat grains and get enough carbs in your diet for energy, without dipping into the gluten-y grains that cause such problems. This excellent in-depth article outlines just how awful gluten is to anyone’s body.

The Bottom Line:
Yoplaits’ plan is for you to restrict your calories to see the weight loss. But calorie restriction without calorie quality will ultimately fail you. The number of calories you eat does matter. The TYPE of calories you eat matters as much or more than just meeting a certain calorie number at the end of the day. 

You could eat ‘x’ amount of calories all from 100-calorie pack snacks, instant oats, frozen meals, and Yoplait ‘Light!’ – but you’d be sacrificing a large amount of nutrients that your body needs while ingesting a large quantity of anti-nutrients. Your body requires certain nutrients every single day, multiple times per day. Your biological systems that regulate your weight NEED the proper nutrients – not getting them can have a disastrous effect on your weight loss efforts. I’ll say it again people, foods & drinks that inflame your body make it extremely difficult to lose fat. Inflammation = fat. Bottom line.

Sit down to each meal/snack in your day knowing that you’ve picked a solid protein as the foundation, have a food that looks just as it did when it was growing on a vine/in a tree, and are eating a bit of fat from a healthy source. It’s really not that hard, your weight loss results will be much more long-lasting, and you’ll have a much better chance of fending off much of the inflammatory diseases that are raging in this country today!