Calories: More Than Meets The Eye

Charles Stuart Platkin of The Seattle Times examines the claim many distressed dieters make, “I hardly eat anything, but I can’t lose weight!” Is there any truth in this? Dr. Fuhrman would likely contend if you’ve reached this impasse you’re probably eating the wrong foods and following a poorly constructed diet plan, but let’s see what Platkin turned up:
It's been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that people attempting to lose weight tend to underestimate the amount they eat by as much as 47 percent and to overestimate their physical activity by as much as 51 percent. When scientists at the USDA's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland asked 98 men and women how much they ate in a 24-hour period, they found that 6 out of 7 women underreported by an average of 621 calories, and 6 out of 10 men underreported by an average of 581 calories.

When the American Cancer Institute did a study asking Americans to determine the portion sizes of eight specific foods, only 1 percent got them all right. Sixty-one percent couldn't get more than four correct.
So, clearly many dieters have good intentions, but limited or poor knowledge of nutrition (specifically that of certain foods) sabotages their weight-loss goals. Imagine if people knew better! Consider this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked—keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.
This previous post has more: Foods That Make You Thin

In order to test caloric misconception Platkin pits a number of popular snack foods against each other. For example, did you know a Pringles potato chip actually has more calories than a McDonalds French fry? It’s true! Check it out:
One Pringles potato chip vs. one McDonald's french fry

Believe it or not, one french fry has only five calories, while a single Pringle is double at 10 calories.

One bite-size cube of cheddar cheese vs. one Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie


Clearly the cheese is the better choice nutritionally, but cheese is not a health food you can consume without guilt — one bite-size (1/2") cube has 55 calories, whereas the cookie has only 37.5. Whenever possible, go with low-fat cheese. A great one is Cabot's Vermont 50% Light Cheddar — 35 calories per 1/2" cube.

One Fritos Original Corn Chip vs. one cashew nut


Here again, the cashew has health benefits that far outweigh those of the nutritionally bland corn chip; however, cashews have 8.5 calories per nut, whereas Fritos have five per chip. So just because nuts are healthful doesn't give you carte blanche to overindulge — you're supposed to eat nuts in place of something else in your diet that's high in calories and nutritionally inferior, not simply add them.
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