Carbs or Calories? Picking the Lesser of Two Evils

Most people looking to lose weight share a common area of confusion. Is it better to cut back on calories or carbohydrate intake to lose weight and keep it off? The key is to cut back on both in moderation by making healthier, educated choices. Any diet that drastically reduces your caloric intake (i.e. below 1,000 calories per day) or cuts out carbohydrates completely is a diet that will result in frustration and further weight gain. Before putting your effort into a diet that will ultimately fail, read on to discover what works!

Cutting back on your calories

It takes 3,500 excess calories to gain one extra pound. In other words, if you were to consume an excess of 500 calories per day, you would gain one pound per week. Although this sounds like a lot of excess calories, by making the wrong food choices, such as fast or refined food, it is actually quite easy to do. Most people exceed their caloric limit without even realizing it due to faulty food choices, super-sizing and disassociation with their true hunger signal. I always encourage people to examine why they are eating. Is it truly due to hunger or does it have an emotional link such as boredom, loneliness or sadness? Many people also suffer from food cravings due to a diet comprised of refined, fast food. Unfortunately, if cravings are not dealt with, they often result in overindulgence of calorie-rich, nutrient-poor food choices.

The key to cutting calories is to become a keen label reader. Once you are familiar with which foods come with a heavy load, you can replace them with their lighter and equally tasty counterparts. Here are a few examples of how to lighten up without losing taste:

Salad dressings:

1 package of Wendy’s honey mustard dressing = 280 calories

1 package of Wendy’s lowfat honey mustard dressing = 120 calories


1 tbsp mayonnaise = 100 calories

1 tbsp light mayonnaise = 50 calories

1 tbsp deli mustard = 12 calories

Lowfat dairy products:

1 cup 2% cottage cheese = 203 calories

1 cup nonfat cottage cheese = 150 calories

4 oz. scoop of Baskin Robbins ice cream = 250 calories

1/2 cup of Baskin Robbins chocolate nonfat soft-serve yogurt = 120 calories

Vegetarian meats:

Large single patty hamburger = 420 calories

Single patty veggie burger = 150 calories

Side dishes:

1 large McDonald’s fries = 550 calories

1 small McDonald’s fries = 220 calories

1 McDonald’s side salad = 20 calories

To find out the caloric rating of your favorite food choices, visit the Truestar Food Trakker, the food calculator that contains all the nutritional information you need on thousands of food items. In addition, fill out a quick and easy personal nutrition profile to find out the caloric range you need to stay within to lose weight.

Carb-smart eating

In addition to being calorie smart, it is also important to make sure you are eating the right type of carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates are a necessary fuel for the body, an excess of the wrong type of carbohydrates, such as refined flour and sugar foods in the form of white bread, pasta, cookies, candies and muffins, will cause the body to over-secrete the hormone insulin. Excess insulin will be stored as fat, making weight loss extremely difficult.

The key is to select carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic index rating. These carbohydrates do not cause surges in insulin, resulting in little to no fat storage. In other words:

The worst: Refined flours and sugar products. Look for the words “refined”, “white” or “bleached” on labels to identify these foods. Although they may melt in your mouth, they are low in nutrients and fiber.

Better: Whole grains, such as flax, kamut, spelt and rye. These items are available in your grocery store or local health food store in the form of cereal, pasta, bread and muffin mixes.

The best: All vegetables, legumes and most fruits.

At Truestar, we offer two different approaches to weight loss. For fast weight loss, or for those with poor blood sugar control (i.e. type 2 diabetics, yo-yo dieters or those with hypoglycemia) we offer a plan that is lower in carbohydrates called the Metabolic Booster Phase. Members can expect to lose between two and six pounds per week while following the Metabolic Booster Phase, while enjoying delicious meals. For those wishing to lose weight at a more gradual pace (two pounds per week) or for those who have successfully achieved their weight loss goals in the Metabolic Booster Plan, the Continuum Weight Loss Phase is for recommended.

Making it work

Although a proper diet is critical to weight loss success, it is not the only factor. Exercise and proper supplementing with specific minerals and vitamins are key to taking it off and keeping it off. Our Truestar for Women centers and website offer nutrition, exercise, vitamins, sleep and attitude programs to ensure your efforts result in weight loss success.

Weight loss does not have to be a confusing game of science. By becoming calorie and carb smart, you can enjoy delicious and filling meals while losing weight and feeling great!