Which is more important -- eating the right amount of food or eating the right type of food? It’s almost as puzzling as “what came first – the chicken or the egg?” This is an age-old debate and like many other areas of nutrition, there is not a clear-cut answer to a complicated question.
When it comes to overall health, both quality and quantity are of utmost importance. However, when it comes to simply weight loss, quantity may win slightly over quality in this particular debate. This boils down to the fact that if you overeat healthy foods, you can still gain weight.
Generally speaking, a calorie is a calorie, meaning that every calorie provides the exact amount of energy regardless of the source.
Always Control Your Calories
So in theory, as long as you control the number of calories you consume, you can control the amount of weight lost or gained. Although this is the most important factor in weight loss, quality is also important.
There are clear limits to this notion that all calories are the same. If you took this theory to the extreme, you would think that someone who at 1,500 calories of junk food would lose the same amount of weight compared to someone who ate 1,500 calories of healthy, nutritious food but that isn’t necessarily the case. But it is not wise to load up on the unhealthy stuff. Junk food can cause chemical reactions that work against weight loss. For example, high sugar foods cause a release of insulin, which encourage fat storage and weight gain.
Always Strive for Nutrition
Additionally, nutritious foods are much more filling. This means that when you eat whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, lean proteins and dairy there is a healthy amount of filling nutrients like fiber and protein to cause the body to full and satisfied. This makes it much easier to stop when full and to keep to a specific calorie level, thus making weight management easier. Foods void of these nutrients, yet full of unhealthy fats and sugars, can cause cravings for more unhealthy foods, making it harder to stick to a certain calorie level. It can and often is a vicious cycle of over-eating unhealthy foods in greater amounts.
Watch Out for Unhealthy Foods
When it comes to chronic disease prevention, we know that so-called “bad quality” food is also bad for your body. Unhealthy foods are void of cancer fighting nutrients and void of antioxidants known to fight off many chronic conditions.
High intake of salt, saturated fat and sugars significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer, just to name a few conditions and diseases. And this is true even if someone is maintaining a healthy weight for his or her height. Of course, the risk of developing conditions and diseases increase if one is overweight or obese, but still poses a risk if someone is at a healthy weight.
It's Easier Than You Think!
Most people who succeed in losing weight and improving their health do so by making changes in both the quality and quantity of what they eat. You can’t gain weight without eating too many calories or lose weight without eating fewer calories. But what you eat is equally important for a variety of other reasons.
By changing both quality and quantity, improving one’s health becomes easier and more enjoyable.
If you are looking for a diet or meal plan that not only leaves you feeling and looking great, but also ensures that you are receiving proper nutrition, take a look at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating. Our meals are created by registered dieticians and adhere to the most current recommended dietary guidelines.