Margaret: For a long time, we’ve heard the same advice about how to lose weight — eat less, exercise more. In author, Jonathan Bailor’s bestselling book, The Calorie Myth, he argues that you can actually eat more and exercise less simply by focusing on the types of food and calories we eat, not the numbers involved. Here with us is nutrition and exercise expert, Jonathan Bailor. It’s great to see you again. How are you doing?
Jonathan: Thank you for having me.
Margaret: So let’s talk, first of all, about the very title of the book. What is the calorie myth?
Jonathan: The calorie myth is this idea that counting calories is the key to long-term wellness. That is absolutely a myth and, in fact, it’s part of the cause of the obesity epidemic.
Margaret: And why is that?
Jonathan: Calories don’t give us a full picture of what we’re eating. In fact, they just give us a very limited and inaccurate picture of what we’re eating. We need to look at the quality of food we’re consuming; not the quantity of calories.
Margaret: Okay. And I remember wondering about this when I was a little kid — Is a calorie a calorie? Like, if I ate 2,000 calories’ worth of cane sugar or 2,000 calories’ worth of salmon, would it come out the same way? And the answer is no, because they behave differently in our bodies. So how is it we figure out what we should be eating?
Jonathan: We can use a very simple acronym that I call SANE. We look at the satiety, aggression, nutrition, and efficiency of calories.
Margaret: That sounds pretty fierce. What does that mean?
Jonathan: It’s very, very simple. We want to look at foods that are found directly in nature, foods that are high in water, fiber, and protein. So think non-starchy vegetables, nutritious proteins, and whole food fats like nuts and seeds.
Margaret: What about salted caramel? Is that found in nature? Just checking.
Jonathan: It is on this lovely island I’ve recently discovered.
Margaret: Oh, really? The island of denial?
Margaret: Okay, so that’s one way of looking at it — the natural foods. What should we be looking at in terms of other qualities? Like, we hear so much about good carbs, bad carbs; good fats, bad fats. What are we talking about?
Jonathan: Focus on nature versus not in nature, rather than good versus bad. For example, do you find bread bushes in nature?
Margaret: Not as much as I’d like.
Jonathan: Not as much as we’d like but we do find fruits and vegetables, which are carbs, in nature. So focus on nature first, or natural versus non-natural versus these arbitrary good versus bad labels.
Margaret: Okay, that sounds like that’s actually pretty easy. We can do that. Now, non-SANE foods — things that we should just — many say no to because they may taste good but are like literally killing us.
Jonathan: Think predominantly refined starches and sweets — these are the things that didn’t even exist in our food supply prior to the obesity epidemic and if you trace their presence in any culture, they are what caused the obesity and diabetes epidemics.
Margaret: So give me some examples.
Jonathan: Soda, candy, cake, pie — those types of things.
Margaret: Ho Hos — those types of things? Yes, they would count. All right, that’s good because that actually is something you can think about while you’re shopping. Is this food found in nature? You don’t have to be a scientist to figure that out and make some good decisions about that. Now, the other thing that’s sort of come up a lot lately that I find personally confusing is this whole idea of wheat, gluten, etc. What I’ve heard argued is the wheat that we’re eating is so different from the wheat that our ancestors ate that it’s actually made bread and things that seem like it should be fine for you unhealthy. Is that true?
Jonathan: That’s exactly right. There was actually a Nobel Prize awarded for the creation of the genetically-modified wheat that we’re eating today so it was brilliant in terms of creating an abundant supply of calories.
Jonathan: But they’re, sadly, very unhealthy and dangerous calories so the wheat that we’re eating today is not at all similar to the wheat that was consumed in biblical times or even before that.
Margaret: Okay. And while we’re talking about genetically-modified foods, GMOs in general, I see a lot of products now that say non-GMO. Why is that important to choose or do you think it is important to choose those products?
Jonathan: I think it is important to choose those products if you have the opportunity to. Many people in this country do have the opportunity to choose non-GMO so let’s go that way simply because we don’t know what GMO does. We have no long-term studies. We do know what non-GMO does because it’s kept us healthy and fit for generations.
Margaret: Right. And when we say healthy and fit, if you are — let’s say, you’re eating more because now you’re eating a lot of broccoli and fruit and nuts and salmon instead of Ho Hos or salted caramels, you can actually eat more because those foods have fewer calories in them in part?
Jonathan: You can eat more because I want you to crowd out those other foods.
Jonathan: So that’s such a different mindset, though. Thinking, I’m going to eat 1,200 calories of Ho Hos and Ding Dongs, is a much different mindset than, I’m going to try to eat so much nutritious, whole, healing, yummy food that I’m too full for all that nonsense. It’s focusing on abundance rather than deprivation and that makes all the difference in the world.
Margaret: Now, in terms of cooking, let’s say, a piece of salmon, vegetables, is it partly that we don’t know how to cook things or spice things, season things, make them more flavorful because it’s like our taste buds have been screwed up by things that are so sweet and salty and tasty that you get to a normal food and it doesn’t taste like enough for our taste buds?
Jonathan: You hit the nail on the head. We’ve really lost sight of food and cooking in general. If we define food as things found in nature and then things that need to be chopped and cooked and refrigerated and frozen and then we look at what we typically put into our mouths, wow, have we changed what we’re doing in the past forty years. So should we be shocked that we’re getting radically different results in terms of our health?
Margaret: And in terms of people’s health long-term — kids, the whole thing — I love the book. I didn’t understand all the science but I get the point. Please check our website to learn more about Jonathan’s SANE Solution Weight Loss Program. It really works. The Calorie Myth is available in paperback now and the best part is, everybody in our studio audience is going home with a copy of this book. We’ll be back in a minute. Thank you so much.
Jonathan: Thank you so much.