Quantity vs. quality of calories consumed

I read a thread on here the other day where a European wrote about shopping in an American grocery store. He was appalled at the amount of processed crap we not only eat, we consider normal.

It also seems like this forum is big on caloric intake vs burn, and not big on quality of those calories.

I am not trying to bash in any way, and I know speaking in generalities will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, but I don't agree with calories being the almighty yardstick.

If weight loss is your one and only goal, then strictly speaking, calories in vs. Calories burned is a fine technique. We have all seen the studies where the patient are nothing but twinkles and lost weight. Is anybody else not disgusted by the overall style of food we as Americans eat? No other rich country in the world eats such garbage, and pays top dollar for it too! I've also seen the sixty minutes specials showing the poor family trying to eat fresh vegetables on a budget, and my heart goes out to those people. But for most of us there is no excuse. Eating whole, natural, nutrient rich foods not only will make you feel better and feel healthier, your calories will go much further too.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and a myriad of other health issues can and will occur if you eat processed, high fat, high sugar, high sodium, foods over an extended period of time.

I love MFP and it has been an integral part of my latest weight loss endeavor, but I also think it is important to pull the curtain back and dig a little deeper. Think of calorie counting as one tool in your tool bag, but not as the only tool you own.
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Replies

  • Meerataila
    Meerataila Posts: 1,885 Member
    No one will argue that health requires better nutrition than you'll find in the cookie aisle.

    But if you want to keep it simple, the laws of physics say calories in calories out is all that matters.

    Compliance when people are eating foods that make them hungry and sick is another matter.
  • No_Finish_Line
    No_Finish_Line Posts: 3,662 Member
    agree that calories in/out should only be thought of in terms of weight loss.
  • sassyjae21
    sassyjae21 Posts: 1,217 Member
    :yawn:

    puppy-falling-asleep-o.gif
  • J72FIT
    J72FIT Posts: 5,948 Member
    Why must it be one against the other? The two work great when you put them together...
  • kelsully
    kelsully Posts: 1,008 Member
    Why must it be one against the other? The two work great when you put them together...

    ^^^ they also have a bit of a tendency to go hand in hand as you can often eat MORE high quality food for the same amount of calories of crap
  • oinkerjnn
    oinkerjnn Posts: 85 Member
    I guess my point is America has made a huge industry out of weight loss. Weight watchers, lean cuisine, gyms, DVDs, trainers, and what not, bombard us constantly.

    Yet you ever see a breakfast buffet in Europe? Its insane! Fresh croissants, nine types of house cured meats, homemade cheese, egg poaching machines, thick churned homemade butter, etc. and nobody is fat!

    Can you spot the glaring difference between the two? Their food is natural! It came from an animal. Or they grew it in a fields without hormones. Or pesticides. Or other nasty stuff that enables big agriculture to build a bigger tomato, a fatter chicken, and a cow that requires less food.

    I love my country and I'm not trying to paint this rosy picture of Europe like they have no social issues whatsoever. That's not the case. I just think as A nation Need to wake up and smell the (fair trade) coffee.
  • Meerataila
    Meerataila Posts: 1,885 Member
    I guess my point is America has made a huge industry out of weight loss. Weight watchers, lean cuisine, gyms, DVDs, trainers, and what not, bombard us constantly.

    Yet you ever see a breakfast buffet in Europe? Its insane! Fresh croissants, nine types of house cured meats, homemade cheese, egg poaching machines, thick churned homemade butter, etc. and nobody is fat!

    Can you spot the glaring difference between the two? Their food is natural! It came from an animal. Or they grew it in a fields without hormones. Or pesticides. Or other nasty stuff that enables big agriculture to build a bigger tomato, a fatter chicken, and a cow that requires less food.

    I love my country and I'm not trying to paint this rosy picture of Europe like they have no social issues whatsoever. That's not the case. I just think as A nation Need to wake up and smell the (fair trade) coffee.

    From what I've read a lot of Europeans walk everywhere. It's not exercise, it's daily living. On top of that, a lot of Europeans don't snack between meals.

    Does food quality matter? I'm sure it does for longevity, though some might argue otherwise. Either way, I think for both health, weight, and long happy life, there's so many components it's crazy. Including social. Maybe especially social.

    You might like this TED Talk:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-jk9ni4XWk

    Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+
  • shabaity
    shabaity Posts: 791 Member
    I'm going with calorie in vs calorie out because one it works for me. Two because honestly I'm a full time student with a full time job I have literally one day a week that I have time to cook a really good nutritional meal and usually I've got a text book open next to the stove when I do that, though I do supplement my bad habits with things from the fruits and veggies section that I can portion out and toss in my bag for snacks etc. and 3 I'm southern I'm not quite ready to give up my 2 piece dark with slaw just yet though you can keep the biscuit.
  • oinkerjnn
    oinkerjnn Posts: 85 Member
    Why must it be one against the other? The two work great when you put them together...

    ^^^ they also have a bit of a tendency to go hand in hand as you can often eat MORE high quality food for the same amount of calories of crap
    ^^^^^^
    This x 10000.

    A Big Mac meal with a strawberry shake has 1575 calories. For that amount of calories I can have:

    Protein shake for breakfast with US protein added almond milk and 2T flax seed meal
    6 oz watermelon
    Chicken sandwich loaded with veggies on whole wheat bread
    Half cup pistachios
    Another protein shake post workout same mix no flax seed
    Homemade chicken scallopine with asparagus and mushrooms over whole wheat pasta.

    That's what I've logged so far today by the way, though I haven't eaten dinner yet. Its right at 1600 calories.

    I'll have another serving of fruit and probably some more pistachios too, but that's besides the point.
  • tquill
    tquill Posts: 300 Member
    I guess my point is America has made a huge industry out of weight loss. Weight watchers, lean cuisine, gyms, DVDs, trainers, and what not, bombard us constantly.

    Yet you ever see a breakfast buffet in Europe? Its insane! Fresh croissants, nine types of house cured meats, homemade cheese, egg poaching machines, thick churned homemade butter, etc. and nobody is fat!

    Can you spot the glaring difference between the two? Their food is natural! It came from an animal. Or they grew it in a fields without hormones. Or pesticides. Or other nasty stuff that enables big agriculture to build a bigger tomato, a fatter chicken, and a cow that requires less food.

    I love my country and I'm not trying to paint this rosy picture of Europe like they have no social issues whatsoever. That's not the case. I just think as A nation Need to wake up and smell the (fair trade) coffee.

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/340188-obesity-in-america-compared-to-europe/

    The statistics show that European obesity isn't that much better than the U.S (63% vs 50%+)

    Not only that, a higher rate of Europeans smoke than Americans (28% vs 19%)

    http://www.realclearscience.com/journal_club/2012/11/10/who_smokes_more_americans_or_europeans_106403.html

    Since over-eating is likely a habit, Europeans simply have a different bad habit.

    EDIT: Added data for quick reference.
  • sassyjae21
    sassyjae21 Posts: 1,217 Member
    I guess my point is America has made a huge industry out of weight loss. Weight watchers, lean cuisine, gyms, DVDs, trainers, and what not, bombard us constantly.

    Yet you ever see a breakfast buffet in Europe? Its insane! Fresh croissants, nine types of house cured meats, homemade cheese, egg poaching machines, thick churned homemade butter, etc. and nobody is fat!

    Can you spot the glaring difference between the two? Their food is natural! It came from an animal. Or they grew it in a fields without hormones. Or pesticides. Or other nasty stuff that enables big agriculture to build a bigger tomato, a fatter chicken, and a cow that requires less food.

    I love my country and I'm not trying to paint this rosy picture of Europe like they have no social issues whatsoever. That's not the case. I just think as A nation Need to wake up and smell the (fair trade) coffee.

    They're either not eating as much of it as you think they are, or they are burning it all off, or both. Doesn't matter where the calories come from.
  • Hornsby
    Hornsby Posts: 10,322 Member
    Why must it be one against the other? The two work great when you put them together...

    ^^^ they also have a bit of a tendency to go hand in hand as you can often eat MORE high quality food for the same amount of calories of crap
    ^^^^^^
    This x 10000.

    A Big Mac meal with a strawberry shake has 1575 calories. For that amount of calories I can have:

    Protein shake for breakfast with US protein added almond milk and 2T flax seed meal
    6 oz watermelon
    Chicken sandwich loaded with veggies on whole wheat bread
    Half cup pistachios
    Another protein shake post workout same mix no flax seed
    Homemade chicken scallopine with asparagus and mushrooms over whole wheat pasta.

    That's what I've logged so far today by the way, though I haven't eaten dinner yet. Its right at 1600 calories.

    I'll have another serving of fruit and probably some more pistachios too, but that's besides the point.

    That's a lot of food, and would most likely fill me up. If I ate your food example, I would still have 2000 calories left for the day. I can not imagine eating the plan you laid out 2.5 times over. I would rather have mostly healthy choices and sprinkle in some "junk".
  • Sabine_Stroehm
    Sabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,263 Member
    I think many of the regulars here DO try to build a diet around whole, nutritious foods. Some don't sure. I also think sometimes it *seems* like folks only care about calories, because of the types of questions asked. "Can I eat x" type questions.

    That said: some folks DO think the only thing that matters (to them) is calories. I've seen a few diaries that I would say were devoid of real food. But that's the minority I think.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    It also seems like this forum is big on caloric intake vs burn, and not big on quality of those calories.

    Not sure why you would claim this. Lots of people at this forum are big on accuracy, and the fact is that you don't need to have the diet that is best from a nutrition standpoint to lose weight. Also, when someone is first starting, often it's baby steps, and getting an understanding of what you are eating and how to start getting the weight off may come before starting to adjust the diet for other purposes.

    Also, since you mentioned processing. I will say again that being processed does not mean being bad from a nutritional POV. I love fresh local fruits and veggies as much as anyone, and am more likely to eat lots of them when I have a farm share or garden or shop at the green market, all of which I do, but in Chicago in the winter and early spring the availability of fresh, local fruits and vegetables is, obviously, limited at best. Thus, processed foods--like frozen vegetables--provide access to a healthier diet.

    Similarly, there are plenty of fish not available locally, so I buy frozen fish. I don't think that packaging yogurt or other dairy products rob them of their nutritional value. If baby carrots are easier for me than peeling and chopping them myself, I don't see why that makes them no longer good for me. And if I want to buy a sandwich from a local (or even a chain) place that I know uses good ingredients, I don't see why it's no longer worth eating.
    If weight loss is your one and only goal, then strictly speaking, calories in vs. Calories burned is a fine technique. We have all seen the studies where the patient are nothing but twinkles and lost weight. Is anybody else not disgusted by the overall style of food we as Americans eat? No other rich country in the world eats such garbage, and pays top dollar for it too!

    Americans eat lots of different ways. I grew up on what I think of as the basic Midwestern diet and it was meat, potatoes (or sometimes some other carb), and vegetables (too often canned, sometimes corn counted), plus occasionally salad and bread. That's too carb heavy for me now, I'd definitely slot corn as a starch, not a veggie, etc., and I don't do canned veggies personally, but the essence of it really isn't that different from the healthy diet I attempt to eat now.

    Also, how what does the average American diet, whatever it may be, affect how anyone here (where lots of people aren't even American) eat? I don't eat food I think is garbage, and I doubt many other people do, but YMMV.

    Oh, are you claiming that people on MFP in general don't eat vegetables, especially those who say CICO is what matters for weight loss or those (like me) who say that processing is beside the point and eliminating foods is not necessary or particularly desireable? I think you'd be wrong. In fact, my argument is that one should focus on eating foods that are nutrient dense and not on eliminating foods. If you mostly fill up on the nutrient dense stuff the balance will correct itself, especially if you are watching calories.

    Of course, some people need lots of calories. That's (due to his lifestyle and build) why my grandfather could eat far more starches than I ever have and not ever be overweight.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    Compliance when people are eating foods that make them hungry and sick is another matter.

    People should not eat foods that make them hungry or sick, true.

    Personally, I do not.
  • sculli123
    sculli123 Posts: 1,221 Member
    Calories in / out is what is needed to lose weight. Eating a 'healthy' diet is very subjectvie. However, I'll say this, by following calories in / out once I got down pretty low on my calorie intake I definitely didn't eat processed foods at all. Not so much because they're 'bad' but because they weren't going to fit into my overall calories / macros nearly as well as a salad and some chicken breast. I've never been big on processed food anyway but in order to lose weight, the calories are the most important thing.

    As far as being healthy, I have a 54 bpm resting pulse 116/80 blood pressure and perfect blood work all around. I'm 41 people think I'm 30 or younger. My sister (age 42) is an organic farmer, she looks 10 years older than me easily. So 'quality' is not all it's cracked up to be sometimes IMO. I'm not saying go out and eat junk all day (trust me I don't do theat), but being all high and mighty about 'quality' without regards of quanitty is not the way either.

    I'll note that my diary today probably doesn't look as stellar as it does sometimes. This is on purpose though, as I'm carbing up today. Thus the DD Coffee with sugar and cream and pop tarts which I haven't actually had in months.
  • Meerataila
    Meerataila Posts: 1,885 Member
    Compliance when people are eating foods that make them hungry and sick is another matter.

    People should not eat foods that make them hungry or sick, true.

    Personally, I do not.

    Oddly enough, those are the foods I loved the most. I think I'm finally over it, though. Not worth feeling like crap for.
  • J72FIT
    J72FIT Posts: 5,948 Member
    This is a quote form a book entitled, The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan

    It might at some insight...

    "Americans are amazed to learn that some of the cultures that set their culinary course by the light of habit and pleasure rather then nutritional science and marketing are actually healthier then we are–that is, suffer a lower incidence of diet-related health troubles.

    The French paradox is the most famous such case, though as Paul Rozin points out, the French don't regard the matter as paradoxical at all. We Americans resort to that term because the French experience–a population of wine-swilling cheese eaters with lower rates of heart disease and obesity–confounds our orthodoxy about food. That orthodoxy regards certain tasty foods as poisons (carbs now, fats then), failing to appreciate that how we eat, and even how we feel about eating, may in the end be just as important as what we eat. The French eat all sorts of supposedly unhealthy foods, but they do it according to a strict and stable set of rules: They eat small portions and don't go back for seconds; they don't snack; they seldom eat alone; and communal meals are long, leisurely affairs. In other words, the French culture of food successfully negotiates the omnivore's dilemma, allowing the French to enjoy their meals without ruining their health.

    Perhaps because we have no such culture of food in America almost every question about eating is up for grabs. Fats or carbs? Three squares or continuous grazing? Raw or cooked? Organic or industrial? Veg or vegan? Meat or mock meat? Foods of astounding novelty fill the shelves of our supermarket, and the line between a food and a "nutritional supplement" has fogged to the point where people make meals of protein bars and shakes. Consuming these neo-pseudo-foods alone in our cars, we have become a nation of antinomian eaters, each of us struggling to work out our dietary salvation on our own. Is it any wonder American's suffer from so many eating disorders? In the absence of any lasting consensus about what and how and where to eat, the omnivore's dilemma has returned to America with an almost atavistic force."

    –Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma
  • Tony_Von_Stryfe
    Tony_Von_Stryfe Posts: 153 Member
    Europeans love to crap on Americans about how poorly we eat, which is probably true. However, living in SoCal I see a lot of European tourists and very few of them are particularly lean or in that great of shape...
  • Sabine_Stroehm
    Sabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,263 Member


    –Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma
    LOVE Michael Pollan