I write a lot about calorie deficits to lose weight and how what you make those calories up of doesn’t matter in terms of dropping weight.
Of course that doesn’t mean that what you eat doesn’t matter. How you actually structure your diet to meet these calories will have an impact on how you feel.
The fact remains that you can eat foods in any combination, eat specific foods, eat at certain times. If you aren’t in a deficit you won’t lose weight, but once you’ve got the deficit thing nailed looking at what you actually eat can help you progress further and feel better with it.
Increasing your protein intake for instance, that can help you feel more satiated, which in turn makes calorie deficits feel easier.
Swapping out some of your sugary snacks for fruit will make you feel better over time and also reduce the calorie value of your snacks.
Looking to fill up on denser lower calorie foods (piling your veggies high for instance) will keep you full but also help stay within your calorie goal.
Focusing on eating homemade food with lots of salad and veg included will make you feel better than takeaways and grab a go sandwiches, probably be lower calorie (and reduce your spending).
So of course how you chose to make up those calories does have an effect.
Why do PTs tend to say calories matter more as a headline then?
Because it’s a pyramid and you need to have the foundations right before you build.
If you aren’t yet in a deficit then looking at changing everything about what you eat and worrying about the specifics of certain foods is going to feel overwhelming. Quite simply if you can hit a calorie deficit by cutting a snack out, reducing your portion size, changing your McDonalds order from Large to regular, making your takeaway coffee an Americano instead of a Pumpkin Spiced Late every day, well that’s going to make sticking to a calorie goal easier. Once you’ve adjusted to that then you can look at some more small changes bit by bit. Generally speaking we are better at adjusting to small changes over time rather than overhauling our life all in one go, we are much more likely to stick with small changes consistently and consistency is what is needed to reduce weight and keep it off.