Quality or Quantity
What do you think is most important when it comes to what you’re eating and trying to become healthier or lose weight? Is it the amount (quantity) of food you’re eating? Or is it the type (quality) of food you consume?
In my opinion, it’s quality. When I work with clients, I tend to focus on quality of diet changes before I adjust calories. When look at food quality I think, fruits and vegetables, less processed, and higher nutrient density (basically more bang for your buck when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and calories). Fruits and vegetables have nutrients that support your metabolism. They also tend to have more fiber, making you feel satisfied for a longer period of time. If I start a client out by cutting calories and they're still eating junk, they will most likely complain to me that they're still hungry. If I suggest adding one cup of vegetables to each meal, they'll get the nutrients, gain a good habit, and they may start eating less on their own because they feel less hungry. By introducing changes to quality of food first, I tend to take care of both nutrient density and caloric intake issues at the same time.
Now, does calorie counting and cutting calories work for weight loss? It definitely can! I’m not going to lie, you can most definitely overeat fruits and vegetables causing an excess in calories, though I find that is far more difficult than overeating sweet or salty snacks. If you cut back your calories, you’re bound to lose weight to a certain point. This can lead to the issue of undereating which is a completely different problem and something I will cover in an article in the future. Quantity of food can affect your body weight, which does have some effect on health. However, there are more health benefits from eating a nutritious diet (quality) along with weight loss versus just weight loss alone. This is another reason why I encourage quality of food changes; most of us are looking for not only weight loss, but healthier lifestyles as well.
I did want to add a note based on a study that I read recently. One way your body burns calories is by breaking down/digesting the food you eat. This calorie burn is small compared to what you use on a daily basis just to sustain life, but it is calorie burn, nonetheless. In this study, processed foods burned FEWER calories than whole foods giving greater net calories with processed foods. This science is fairly new, but I will be interested to see where it goes!
What are you focusing on in your health journey quantity or quality?