Calories – Everything You Need To Know
If I had a penny for every time someone said that word, I would be rich!
“How many calories will I burn?” / “How many calories in that salad?” / “How many calories do I need to have a day?” / “How many calories are in this drink?”
Question after question until our heads are spinning and the thought of counting a calorie, looking at food, or working out makes us feel confused and anxious. Now, is that healthy?
No, of course not.
So let’s answer your calorie questions once and for all.
When it comes to diets in general, there are many misconceptions. People are quick to take diet pills, go on juicing fasts, eat protein bars, or start a low-fat, low-protein, or low-starch diet. People jump on these diets that cut out entire food groups because the diet promises to show quick results. They are likely to see weight loss because when they cut out a food group it generally, and possibly without them realizing it, winds up reducing their caloric intake. This is very common in gluten free or paleo diets. People start these diets and cut a large portion of needless, or excess calories, by cutting their bread—and sometimes sweets, like muffins and French toast—intake. However, the restrictions in these diets often leads people to become fanatical about food, making them scared to eat a fruit or vegetable (added calories!), they cut fiber from grains (bread!) or they simply cut out food and become reliant on prepackaged frozen meals and bars. This is NOT good!
It is true—if you eat fewer calories you will lose weight. However, if you eat fewer calories by only having “low-fat” prepackaged foods you will NOT develop the strong, healthy, and lean body you work hard to achieve. In fact, your workouts will not be complimented by the foods you need for recovery and rebuilding, instead you will become exhausted, weak, moody, and tired, and your body composition will suffer. Your cellulite, flabby “skinny fat,” your cholesterol, and other health markers will not get better.
Nutrition and a good, solid workout program is key! It is the only way you will see real and lasting success.
Fitness is in the details and in the programing. If you’re not following a solid, result driven program —you’re not getting the best results possible.
SAD FACT: You can work out and diet without getting lasting results. Actually, many people that go to fitness classes, the gym, or work out at home are not getting any ideal or lasting benefits 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 read our about page, our other blog entries, or the Fitness Series page
(see tab above).
Now, let’s talk about nutrition.
Fat has more calories then carbohydrates, proteins, or sugars, but you need fat for your hair, nails, muscles, heart, and health! In the 1980s, the processed food industry launched a massive, and unfortunate, PR campaign against fat in foods, while secretly substituting it with more and more sugar. Because fat has twice as many calories as sugar, the theory was that cutting calories should start with cutting fat. But if this works, why are so many people still overweight?
The truth is that only counting calories has many flaws, but the main problem is that it does not account for the hormonal effects that certain kinds of foods have on your body. Consider this: Which do you think is better? A salad with grilled chicken (about 350 great calories) or a Lean Cuisine frozen meal (210 calories)? You know the answer!
CALORIES & FAT
Often people who try low-calorie diets end up eating foods that trigger fat-storing hormones because many of the “low calorie” health foods set off those hormones.
Would you rather eat a so-called “healthy” protein bar or an avocado? Let’s 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.
Insulin is a “building” hormone, which means it helps to move sugar from the food you’ve eaten into your cells to be used for energy and it 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 helping to keep you feeling full. But that’s not all—the avocado actually sends signals to your body to burn body fat.
BUT CALORIES MATTER
I once had a client who I explained and educated about healthy eating. She became obsessed with the idea and actually began to overeat ‘healthy food.” She would drink two 300-calorie cold pressed fruit and vegetable juices and eat an avocado (that’s about 1,000 calories) as her snack! Just because it’s 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 one weekly “cheat” meal.
CALORIES THAT INCREASE CRAVINGS
Your body craves whatever it eats most regularly, it’s a survival mechanism. 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 fewer cravings for high-sugar and high carbohydrate foods. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’ve tried carb-re- striction diets and actually craved carbs, right? You craved them so much you could smell a breadcrumb from half a mile away. I know the feeling. Luckily, that’s only during the withdrawal phase, I promise it gets easier.
Eating healthier calories will reteach your body what’s best for it. Flipping the switch may be hard initially but stay focused and remember that after a week or so of craving carbs like mad, your body will adjust and 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 aisle. Get rid of condiments. Stay out of the frozen food section UNLESS you are getting frozen berries or pure frozen veggies.