Calorie in, calorie out – right? Wrong.

The diet industry was based on this premise – you need to burn more calories than you eat. Sounds so simple and easy. The reality, however, is that this could not be further from the truth.

The human body is a complex and only party understood biological instrument. Our energy systems are incredibly complex – Krebs Cycle, anyone?   And what we are most definitely NOT is a mathematical equation. So it is quite simply ludicrous to believe that what goes in < what goes out = weight loss. Ask anyone who has ever tried to count calories and lose weight. Ask the $60.5 BILLION dollar (as of 2013) weight loss industry. Do you think there would be that much money to be made in weight loss if it were that easy?

Something that I intuitively believed to be true was this: when we eat whole food it affects our metabolic pathways very differently than when we eat fast or processed food. And then Dr. Stephen Devries said something in a lecture I attended that blew my mind:

Calories in a serving of almonds = 170 calories
Calories absorbed in a serving of almonds = 129 calories

Happy dance time.

That is a 32% overestimation. That’s a lot. He went on to say that a commonality amongst people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off is that they consume nuts. And that a serving of nuts “appears to decrease caloric absorption over 24 hours by approximately 3%”.  Conclusion?  Eat nuts, y’all!

So when we EAT FOOD, NOT TOO MUCH, MOSTLY PLANTS (thank you Michael Pollan) we don’t need to fixate on calories.   That’s because the satiety of whole food is very, very different than the satiety of processed, high-sugar food. Think about it. Eat a plate of broccoli. Could you even eat a whole plate of broccoli? And, if you did, you would be full. However, eat a slice of chocolate cake. Easy, right? Well that chocolate cake has about 10x the amount of calories the broccoli has, but eating the cake was a hell of a lot easier. Because, my friends, the more fiber, protein, and water a food has, the higher the satiety. The fuller you feel. And that causes you eat to less naturally rather than trying to eat less by deprivation.

Which never works because life is too short and there is just way too much chocolate cake out there to be eaten.

In celebration of the power of nuts – here’s a recipe for you:


Taken from Giada’s Feel Good Food

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 large egg white
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups raw cashew nuts
  • 1 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray a heavy baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white and salt just until foamy. Add the maple syrup, rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the nuts and sunflower seeds and toss until coated.
  3. Spread the nut mixture on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the nuts are crisp and brown, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool before serving or storing.

Eat well.