By Calibrate Chief Medical Officer, Kim Boyd, MD
The food program at Calibrate creates a healthy, sustainable way of eating that promotes weight loss and sets you up for long-term health. Calibrate does this by focusing on the quality of foods and making sure your body is getting the building blocks it needs while helping you to feel in-control. Importantly, the Calibrate food program is not a diet: we do not use meal replacements or meal plans. We don’t try to restrict your eating. Instead, we help you rebalance it.
WHAT IS CALIBRATE'S FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
What you eat impacts your biology by directly influencing your metabolic processes, hormones, and gut microbiome. Calibrate does not focus on limiting calories at all costs, but rather on incorporating high-quality whole foods. As part of the program, we’ll cover what happens to your body when you consume certain foods, and we’ll help you to find easy (and delicious) ways to incorporate the right components into your diet.
- What you’ll achieve: Limiting disease-promoting foods: eating less sugar, fast-digesting carbs, and processed foods. Increasing health-promoting foods: eating more quality foods in the right proportions. Developing an overall healthy relationship with food.
Interesting. But does this work?
Calibrate’s food program is based on extensive research showing that the best way to maintain a healthy weight and set yourself up for long-term health is to focus on foods that promote metabolic health. Calibrate is built around the best nutrition practices shown to reduce cardiometabolic conditions and support long-term weight health. Our program draws from decades of wide-ranging research, including work done by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and a leading nutrition researcher on Calibrate’s Clinical Advisory Board. Calibrate also incorporates important work showing that insulin plays a critical role in weight health. By reducing fast-digesting carbohydrates, Calibrate’s food program helps to retrain fat cells to burn (instead of store) fat. At the same time, the program helps to lower your body’s “set point” so your system doesn’t work against weight loss.
So, is this a diet?
Calibrate's food program is explicitly not a diet. We want you to feel full and satisfied with a relatively easy approach to eating the right foods.We don’t want you to white-knuckle it or feel as if your whole life is fixated on what you can and can’t eat. While there are fundamental principles to the Calibrate program, and it does take a bit of up-front effort to learn and adjust, we’ll walk you through those changes in small, incremental steps. It’s important that the food program, along with the rest of Calibrate, is sustainable for long-term health.
We do not count calories because we focus more on actual human physiology than potentially overly simplistic reductions of calories alone. Your body handles different types of food differently. When foods have fiber, they digest more slowly. When carbohydrates are combined with protein and fat, they have a different footprint than if they are eaten alone. Calibrate works with the impact of foods on your biology, and we know that 100 calories of almonds or avocado has a very different biologic response than 100 calories of soda or saltine crackers.
Calibrate's food philosophy does not use meal replacements, as one core principle is to minimize overly processed foods. We want people to be empowered and benefit from the nutrients that come from healthy whole foods. Food is nurturing: it’s fuel and information for our bodies, and when used in the right ways, it can be medicine and part of the healing process.
Is Calibrate's food philosophy hard to follow?
Not at all. Our food triangles help you learn how to quickly and effectively assess foods by looking at how processed they are, their carb/fiber ratio, and the quality of the fat they contain. Once you understand the concept and the broad categories, the rest is incredibly intuitive.
Do I have to stick to the eating plan all the time?
Calibrate is built on the principle that small steps lead to big wins and that success isn’t about a single event but rather progress over time. In other words, while it’s true that the more closely you follow our guidelines, the better your results will be, we’re most interested in positive trends that you can sustain for a lifetime.
Why don’t traditional diets work for weight loss?
If you’ve ever tried using any of the traditional or fad diets out there, you know all too well that these approaches rarely lead to healthy and sustainable weight loss. In fact, research shows that 80% of Americans who lose 10% or more of their body weight gain it back.
But this isn’t an example of poor willpower or lack of consistency. Our bodies were built to keep us alive in times when food might be scarce. So when we start restricting calories, our systems go into a survival model—doing their best to hold onto every pound.
What you eat has a direct impact on your metabolic health. But rather than a diet plan that restricts calories and increases your food cravings, it’s important to focus on high-quality whole foods that have been proven to lower your blood sugar and improve gut health. Our approach to food is designed to help you learn how your body reacts to the consumption of certain foods, while helping you to add more of the right foods into your diet.
I’m already following another eating plan; how does Calibrate's food philosophy fit in?
Whether it’s keto, Whole 30, or another program, we realize that people may be in the groove with other eating plans. As long as you follow the core Calibrate principles of tracking what we call “red foods” to minimize highly processed and fast-digesting carbs while also ensuring you get enough of the right foods, you have freedom to use other pathways that work for you (and we provide resources to help you know how to do this!).
Can I continue with the trackers I’m already using?
As part of Calibrate, we’ll teach you how to track “red foods” as defined by the Calibrate Triangles. We do ask that you stick with Calibrate tracking for the program since it’s based on research and allows us to meaningfully track the core aspects of your progress. If you would also like to continue using another tracker that works well for you, that’s fine. Calibrate doesn’t ask you to go deep in the trenches of tracking every calorie and macro because we want this to work with a long-term sustainable lifestyle that gives food the attention it needs without completely taking over your life. The foods that Calibrate asks you to track are the ones that matter most for metabolic health, without getting too caught up in additional details that don’t add a lot to your overall health and progress.
Can I really do this?!
We realize these changes aren’t easy—we’re surrounded by Standard American Diet (SAD) foods/substances that are literally engineered by the food industry to be tempting and tasty. And when we eat these ultra-processed foods that are calorie-dense, low in fiber, and high in added sugar, it sets off a vicious cycle in our biology that leaves us hungry and wanting more. Calibrate works with small, step-wise changes that are doable no matter where you’re starting from. And the good news is that as you begin to shift your food choices and give your body what it actually needs, you start to change your biology and cravings, so the whole process becomes easier. Our members consistently give us feedback that they’re surprised by how doable this is and how good they feel:
“Calibrate has changed my outlook on diets. I can’t live my life on a diet. They are showing me with the progression of small changes, my body will react. It’s such a relief knowing I can finally change the way I look and feel. ” - Calibrate member (Google Review)
Interested in learning more about a whole-body metabolic reset? Learn more today.
Kim is a Stanford-trained physician with integrative medicine fellowship training, a functional medicine background, and ten years of healthcare startup experience. She was an early leader at One Medical, working on clinical systems, national expansion, and leading the virtual medical teams. Kim has also worked on the forefront of new models of medical care, having served as the Medical Director for Galileo and Nurx.
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