Cauliflower is a favorite among the low carb dieters.
It’s taking the place of flour. It is the “bread” in a grilled cheese sandwich, the “crust” on your pizza, the “rice” in your fried rice, and the “potatoes” in mashed potatoes. Substituting cauliflower, the white vegetable, for the white, refined carbs is touted as the best way to make you thinner and healthier.
Cauliflower can replace
- bread in a grilled cheese sandwich
- pizza crust
- the pasta in mac and cheese
- rice in fried rice
- mashed potatoes
- flour in birthday cakes (seriously? ew)
- the hot dog and the hot dog roll too (no doubt some clever cauliflower cook is perfecting that recipe)
What makes cauliflower such a magic weight loss food?
Nothing. There is nothing special about cauliflower, but the cauliflower recipes are posted all over my Facebook wall. My friends share them, like them and their enthusiasm propagates more cauliflower recipe posts from unknown sources.
Low carb dieters embrace cauliflower because there is only 29 grams of carbohydrate in a whole cauliflower. One slice of white bread has 13 grams. One sandwich on 2 slices of white bread has almost as many carbs as the whole head of cauliflower.
That’s great, but that’s not what matters for weight loss. When cauliflower is transformed into foods typically made with flour, it’s done so with things like cheese, butter, oil. Did you know cheese was a fatty food, as are butter and oil. I know there is some new and compelling science that suggests oil and the saturated fat in butter and cheese are good for weight loss and our hearts and carbs are not.
The research still supports too many calories cause weight gain and to lose weight you have to reduce your calories. Carbs have 4 calories per gram, but there are 9 calories in every gram of fat. Therefore if you reduce your carbs and replace them with fat you are also replacing them with a macronutrient that has more than twice as many calories. No matter how you spread it, it impedes losing weight.
Okay, but it appears the cauliflower is not just a super food but is also promotes weight loss. It’s a staple of a low carb diet. It takes the place of refined and even whole grains because the new food enemy is wheat.
Guess what? The calories those things add to the cauliflower can effectively make it as high in calories, or even higher, than the food or ingredient it was meant to replace. That negates its weight loss properties and may even put its nutritional advantage at risk.
The research still supports too many calories cause weight gain and to lose weight you have to reduce your calories.
Carbs have 4 calories per gram, but there are 9 calories in every gram of fat. Therefore if you reduce your carbs and replace them with fat you are also replacing them with a macronutrient that has more than twice as many calories. No matter how you spread it, it impedes losing weight
Is there really an advantage to eschewing wheat and chewing more cauliflower? in my opinion, no, or maybe, yes.
No, because for all the carbs you eliminate, you’re replacing them with many more calories. You lose weight when you cut carbs because you are simultaneously reducing the calories you got from the carbs. If you replace the calories with protein or fat, however, it negates the weight loss effect.
Yes, if the cauliflower grilled cheese sandwiches, or pizza crust, or mashed “potatoes” or fried “rice” however, is especially delicious, then there is an advantage. It tastes great and you’re eating more vegetables, an especially effective vegetable in the war on cell damage. Eating cauliflower raw adds no calories and you need to chew it a lot before you swallow it. That makes it a very weight loss friendly food.
Just like every other food that’s higher in calories, be mindful of the serving sizes. Just because “cauliflower is so good for you,” when it’s transformed into some of these wheat-free recipes, a whole lot of calories are added.