“How many calories will I burn?” / “How many calories is that salad?” / “How many calories do I need to have a day?” / “How many calories are in this drink…”
And it just continues on and on until our heads spin and we can no longer count a calorie or even look at a food or a workout with our getting confused and anxious. Now is that a healthy way to be? No, of course not.
So lets answer your calorie questions once and for all, shall we?
When it comes to diets in general there are too many misconceptions. People are too quick to look at diet pills, juicing fasts, protein bars, low (fat/ or protein/ or starch diets). People generally jump to cut out whole food groups, now this might work in the beginning because when people cut out entire food groups they generally (with out even realizing) wind up cutting their caloric intake, so yes, you see weight loss. This is very common in Gluten Free or Paleo, people going on these diets wind up cutting a large portion of needless/ access calories from their breads and maybe even sweets like morning muffins and french toast. However often times the obsession behind these diets leads people to become fanatical about food, they are scared to either eat a fruit of vegetable because of the added calories, they cut fiber from grains because of the bread or they simply cut food and become reliant of prepackaged frozen meals and bars. This is NOT good!
It is true- if you eat less calories you will lose weight, however once again- IF you eat less calories by only having ‘low-fat’ pre packaged foods you will NOT develop the strong, healthy and lean body you work hard for. In fact your workouts will not be complimented by the foods you need for recovery and re-building, instead you will became exhausted, weak, moody, tired and your body composition will suffer. Your cellulite, flabby ‘skinny fat’, your cholesterol and other health markers will not get better.
Therefore nutrition and a good, solid workout program is key! It is the only way you will see real, lasting success.
Facts are Facts: Fitness is in the details and in the programing. If you’re not following a solid, result driven program – you’re getting the best results possible.
SAD FACT: You can work out and diet without getting lasting results. Actually, sadly, many people that go to fitness classes, the gym or even work out at home are not getting any ideal or lasting benefit from the time they are spending. You must be on a program, not just a random system of sporadic workouts to see and keep your best results. If you want to understand more about exercise programing, please feel free to read our about page, our other blog entries or the Fitness Series page (see tab above). Now, lets get back to this posts topic, nutrition.
Fat has more calories then carbohydrates, proteins of sugars. But you need fat for your hair, nails, muscles, heart, health! In the 1980s, the processed food industry went into a massive and unfortunate PR campaign against fat in foods, all while secretly substituting it with more and more sugar. Because fat has twice as many calories as sugar, the assumption was cutting calories should start with cutting fat. But if this works, then why are so many people still overweight?
The truth is that JUST only counting-calories has many flaws, but the main one is that it does NOT account for the hormonal effects that certain kinds of foods have on your body. Consider this- what is better- a salad with grilled chicken at lets say 350 great calories or a Lean Cuisine at 210 calories? You know the answer!
Often people who try low calorie diets end up eating foods that trigger fat-storing hormones. And unfortunately, many of the “low calorie” health foods set off fat-storing hormones.
Would you rather eat a so called ‘heath protein bar’ or berries and yogurt ? Lets say they have the same amount of calories… When you eat the high-sugar/high-carb energy bar, your blood sugar rises and your pancreas secretes insulin in response to the elevated blood sugar. Insulin is a “building” hormone, which means that it helps to move sugar from the food you’ve eaten into your cells to be used for energy and it also stores extra sugar (energy) as fat.
The monounsaturated fat from the avocado, on the other hand, inhibits insulin, leading to a more sustained energy release and feeling full. But that’s not all, the avocado actually sends signals to your body to burn body fat.
BUT Calories Matter
I had a client once and I explained and educated her on healthy eating. She became obsessed with the idea and actually began to over eat ‘healthy food’. She would drink two 300 calorie cold pressed fruit and vegetable juices, and eat an avocado (thats about 1,000 calories as her snack!). Just because its 100% healthy does not mean you can eat a limitless amount. You cannot over-consume calories without gaining weight.
To optimize your hormonal response to food, eat lots of vegetables and plenty of protein from organic sources, whenever possible. Include healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. Reserve “starchy” carb intake to the hour immediately after your hardest workouts, and maybe have one weekly cheat meal.
Calories That Increase Cravings
Your body craves whatever it eats most regularly. It’s a survival mechanism, because our bodies learn to use whatever food has “worked” in the past to fuel us.
A 2011 study of low-carb and low-fat dieters found that participants’ cravings mimicked what they restricted. In the study, participants who were on a low-carb diet had less cravings for high-sugar and high carbohydrate foods. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’ve tried carb-restriction diets and actually craved carbs, right? You craved them so bad you could smell a breadcrumb from a half mile away. I know the feeling, but that’s only the withdrawal phase; I promise it gets easier afterward.
Eating healthier calories will re-teach your body what’s best for it. Flipping the switch may be hard initially, as you will have withdrawals, but stay focused and remember that after a week or so of craving carbs like mad, your body will adjust and start to crave them less.
As you control your mind to do what you know is best, your body will stop feeling compelled to eat calories that are not positively “feeding” into its own health and well-being.
So, What Calories Should I Be Eating?
Seek calories from protein and fiber that are ALL natural. Or as natural and close to the earth as they can be. as a rule try to buy 75% of your foods from the produce isle. get rid of condiments. Stay out of the frozen food section UNLESS you are getting frozen berries of pure frozen veggies.
Dasha’s trade in rules: ( I wrote these for a Black belt article last year and thought I’d share with you)
Dressings and Dips
Instead of the high sodium and calories found in most vegetable dips and salad dressings, try the following three home made options:
Replace store bought dips with fat free sour cream or nonfat greek yogurt. With a fraction of the calories ( 148 in two table spoons of ranch dressings vs. 20 in fat free sour cream or 15 in none fat greek yogurt) the sour cream is all natural and has calcium . The greek yogurt also packs calcium and an average 15 grams of protein per serving. Drip some lemon in the sour cream, or slice up chives inside the yogurt or added taste.
Replace ‘high calorie’ spicy mayo with your own ‘at home version’. All you need to do is combine fat free mayonnaise with several drips of hot sauce – the result is your own, lower calorie spicy mayo option.
Lastly, make your own dressings, using extra virgin olive oil as the main component. Combining the olive oil with either lemon or vinegar will provide an all natural, heart healthy option. The olive oil will also help aid recovery and provide your daily dose of healthy fat.
Which is Greener?
Trade in plain old romaine lettuce for baby spinach.
There is a reason Popeye preferred spinach; it is high in iron, vitamins A, C, E, K and calcium. On average a 180 g serving of boiled spinach contains 6.43 mg of iron, just as much as many meats. Spicing up your salad with baby spinach will give you a broad spectrum of nutrients and add to the flavors in your bowl. Either replace the Romaine all together, or mix the spinach into your lettuce for a greater nutritional diversity.
Other nutritionally sound green options include Swiss Chard, Kale and Arugula.
The Fish Factor
Mercury is a highly toxic compound that has been found in a great variety of fish. In fact, mercury poisoning can result in great variety of damage to the body including kidney problems, trouble with fine motor control, smell and touch.
Avoid high mercury fish like Grouper, Swordfish and Mackerel. Additionally limit your intake of Tuna, Bluefish and Halibut. But feel free to indulge on the lowest mercury fish like Salmon, Talapia, Shellfish, Flounder, Catfish, Calamari, Freshwater Trout and Scallops.
Additionally, when picking tuna from a can, choose Chunk Light over White Albacore, because of smaller mercury levels.
Love your Sushi, Soy Sauce and Sodium?
Trading in the regular bottle of Soy Sauce (1006 mg of Sodium per table spoon) for the Low Sodium of Soy (533mg per tablespoon) sauce will score some pointers in the low sodium department, but, the best is replacing Soy Sauce with Organic Rice Vinegar, which is completely sodium free and available in every sushi restaurant in town.
High sodium intake is very common in our diets, causing bloating and later more serious problems like heart disease. Paying attention to sodium intake has become a vital task in the quest for a healthy lifestyle. Making small changes in the condiments we use during dinner can significantly lower daily sodium intake.
Need a Protein Supplement?
Trade in your Rice, Soy, Hemp and Casein protein scoops for Whey Protein. But if you can, DO NOT rely on protein bars and drinks. Try to eat lean meats, chicken and fish.
Unless you are a professional athlete, or training heavy duty for over 60 minutes, ditch all of the beautifully colored sports drinks and trade them in for all natural green tea. The green tea you choose should be all natural, with no sugars, or sweetener additives. Green tea has been proven in many studies to speed up metabolism, provide valuable antioxidants that can ward off cancer and it is an all natural, calorie free drink. The caffeine in green tea will help aid with energy, while the zero sugars and carbohydrates helps keep off unnecessary calories.
To go one step further for your ultimate health and performance, replace all juices and sodas with green tea (yes, even diet sodas).
Trade in the Ice Cream (yes – I said it! Trade in the ice cream)…
While it is okay to indulge once in a while, making a habit out of an ice cream bowl every night can wreak havoc on your waste line, your health and your performance. Ice cream contains high amounts of sugar, carbohydrates and many brands have unnatural ingredients. Instead of ice-cream scoops every night, make it a habit to eat frozen berries topped off with fat free whip cream. The berries are an ideal source of antioxidants, while the whip cream is low in calories and helps create the ‘ice cream illusion’ , hence giving you the same satisfaction with added nutrition and less then half the calorie intake.
Alcoholic intake should always be taken in moderation, consistent drinking has been shown to cause weight gain, aid the risk of certain cancers, liver disease and many other health issues.
But, in the pyramid of drinking, on the very top is red wine, which is said to (in moderate amounts) help fight against heart disease, raise healthy cholesterol and aid in the prevention blood clots.
If you must drink hard liquors try to combine them with soda or just ice. Tonic water, juices and other sodas like sprite or coke are all high sugar cordials that will result in tripling your calories and enhancing your potential for a bad hang over. Instead squeeze lemons and limes into your drink for additional taste, and stay free and clear of all gimmick drinks and their sugary additives.
Frozen- pre made dinners
Sorry guys, the only frozen foods i am okay with are frozen steamers like the veggies. Cook your foods yourself. Its worth putting in the time.
Try a to bake a Sweat potato instead of French fries!
Stay full with protein-rich meals that add fiber and healthy fats.
Avoid cravings by making sure that healthy whole foods make up 80% of what you consume each day.
Incorporate hormonal activating foods like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado along with a healthy dose of veggies! Greener the better.
All of these food trade ins help create longer-lasting energy and build better tissue. If you are doing a diet like Paleo, thats okay! But if you aren’t thats okay too.
REMEMBER the best diet is the one that works for YOU – both INSIDE: healthy organs, healthy tissue, energy, lean muscle and OUTSIDE: good body composition.
XoKb, Stay Focused, Dasha Libin Anderson, MS, NASM-PES, NASE, MKC