Oh, what a topic of debate this can be. So many coaches want to know the “science” behind why “If it fits your macros” works. If you are not familiar, “If it fits your macros” is a concept that no matter what you eat, whether it be processed, crap foods or whole, nutritious foods in the same macronutrient distribution, your body composition is not going to change.
I believe this, and here’s why.
We all have our designations of bad foods versus good foods. What makes them that way? I think that many of us would agree that food in its most natural form is going to be the best for you, to which I agree. Most of the time a food is considered “healthy” or “good for you” when it contains great vitamins and minerals. However, there are many foods that are considered to be healthy when quite simply, they aren’t. Let me give you some examples:
One superfood is grapefruit. it is a source of high vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants (does anyone even really know what that is or does it just sound fancy and healthy?), fiber, potassium and has many other health benefits. It has a low glycemic index, and so this is a fruit that many bodybuilders will eat.
Then, there’s things like 100 calorie packs. People will say they are trying to get healthy and will eat these. No, you are trying to lose weight. I actually believe there is a huge gap. Losing weight and becoming healthy are hardly synonymous in society these days.
I believe in a balance of the two. I believe that yes, eating whole nutritious foods is vital to your health. I also believe that it’s hardly even possible to get the benefits of many foods because of the soil that it is grown on, the cooking that we do to it, and the hormones and preservatives that are ingested into it (which includes foods you would deem healthy unless bought organic). I believe that no one really wants to eat 100% organic foods all the time, and that you will be much more successful on a weight loss journey if you have a little more fun. So, let’s get the topic at hand.
GLYCEMIC INDEX. Essentially, if we can look past the chemicals, hormones, and all of that, the difference between a processed carb and a complex nutritious carb is the glycemic index.
What’s that? It’s a test that is performed on every food to see the extent to which it causes changes in blood glucose. Oatmeal has a low glycemic index with brownies having a high glycemic index with strawberries, blueberries, apples are in the middle. This just means that your blood sugar level (and insulin) with oatmeal will remain pretty low and consistent where as your blood sugar (and insulin) will spike when you eat a brownie.
Your body loves homeostasis in EVERYTHING so eating a brownie is not as “good for you” because of this. This means stress levels too. Your body just likes to remain level in all things cells start dying, changing, and mutating and over time, causing damage and disease.
HOWEVER, again, I will repeat, that body composition and weight loss are not synonymous with becoming “healthy”. I’m not claiming to take anyone’s work and I’m just stating what I’ve learned through studies, however I’m not going to reference them in MLA format because this is a blog and I am not in school and don’t have time for that. Sorryyyyy.
Does glycemic index have an effect on weight loss? The studies that I have read have found inconclusive results. This has been a topic of debate for quite some time, that foods with high glycemic index (brownies) affect fat oxidation and slow weight loss but when these patients are compared head to head, that’s not holding up. Each group is losing the same amount of weight if controlled on the same protein, carb, and fat breakdown. The other side of the coin is that if you are spiking your insulin with high glycemic index foods then insulin will promote insulin like growth factor which will help you get those gains. I feel that’s a little far fetched but it is an argument. The high glycemic foods can lead to a spike and then a crash leaving clients less satisfied, more hungry for more food but if the patients ACTUALLY consume the same amount of food, then the weight loss is the same.
There have been countless studies on this matter. They will place subjects on high protein, low glycemic index carb diets and high protein, high glycemic index carb diets and compare them. It always ends up with controversy and no conclusive results as to which promotes more weight loss. The dietary guidelines are in no way the perfect road to success, however they state that “There is strong evidence to support that glycemic index is of no relation to weight loss…”
So, I guess the question for you is
a) Do you want to get healthy?
b) Do you want to lose weight?
c) Do you want to lose weight, get healthy and have a balance of the two?
I think that with macro counting, you can get a balance of the whole nutritious foods to get homeostasis in your body but I also feel that the mental capacity of being able to eat other things makes a world of difference. If nothing else, if no science research performed, I have experienced it first hand time and time again. If you restrict to only low glycemic index foods, I feel this leads to greater harm by the sheer mental capacity of being able to stick to that all the time. In these studies, the mental state of each individual is not assessed of course and we all know that eating and dieting has a strong mental component.
I know that some will read this and say that I didn’t prove anything, and I guess I really didn’t but I could seriously defend this with research all day and some are still going to believe otherwise. I will also state again, I am STRICTLY talking about body composition and weight loss. This is not touching on disease states (such as type 2 diabetes and the importance of low glycemic index carbs) or disease states that may be caused from ingesting chemicals, hormones, etc, etc.
So, here is my recommendation as always: BALANCE. A little of this. A little of that. Don’t be so restrictive. Don’t be so uptight. Enjoy life a little. The difference eating ONLY clean foods in your weight loss journey is not going to be substantial enough to make a difference.
With love and macro counting,