I know you’ve heard “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” or even “calories in calories out” when referring to one’s ability to gain or lose weight. Culturally we either view calories as the enemy or an expected (maybe even welcome) guest. Needless to say this topic can be quite confusing. With some not caring at all while others care way too much.
You’ve heard the common sense advice of: “lower your calories if you want to lose weight” or “burn more calories so you can eat more later and not gain an inch”. Or how about “I can’t have that there are too many calories in it”. And then there are those who blindly indulge in the latest super-sized whole lot a latte filled with a whopping amount of with hidden empty calories.
The contrast of obsession with laxness makes it all so confusing. So where do you go for sound advice? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are 5 Tips on how to get the most from the calories you consume:
Tip # 1 What’s a calorie anyway? It’s a measure of heat. To be more precise, it’s the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. So it’s neither an enemy or a friend it’s just a calculation used to determine the energy produced by the food you consume. You need a minimum amount of food energy in order to maintain your metabolism and drive your muscles. There are foods or substances that are considered thermogenic or have fat burning effects; things like grapefruit, tomatoes, chile, and green tea for example.
Tip # 2 Why should I care? It’s important to have an idea of the general caloric content of what you’re consuming. I even get shocked when I randomly get to read the “Eat this, Don’t eat that” newsletter online. Usually restaurant foods are the worst culprits. From cronuts (combination croissant and doughnut) to “the healthy salad” loaded with excess sugary and fatty dressing, bacon, cheese (lots of it) and everything but the kitchen sink. Bringing in a whopping count of nearly 1000 calories, oftentimes more than half of your daily caloric need. Yes, this is why you need to care. Just because it says, “natural”, “healthy” or “leaner” doesn’t it mean it is.
Tip #3 It matters where your calories come from: So two foods may have the exact number of calories – however one nourishes you with the right kind of nutrients and the other robs you of nourishment – even though it may taste soooo good! A piece of salmon may have the same amount of calories as a piece of chocolate cake but with the high sugar and unhealthy fats of the cake it robs you of your health instead of giving you health. Yes, of course you may occasionally like to have a bite here and there. But just know for most people this saying is true: “one bite is too many and a thousand bites are not enough”. Best to eat the good stuff and then you probably won’t want any nutrient-robbing calories in your diet. The quality of the calorie matters a great deal.
Tip # 4 Forget the Calorie Counting. I believe that most of your food should come from items that are not labeled whatsoever. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and quality protein come without labels. However there are certain food items that do come packaged and you are sure to include in your daily diet. Food items like: almond butter (should only be almonds), quinoa, cheese for example. Make sure these foods are pure and don’t have a lot of additional ingredients in them – which can not only add calories, but is also unnecessary. Nutrition labeling is very important when you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, to make sure that the sugars aren’t too high or the sodium is in a healthy range.
Tip # 5 Dispelling the Calorie Myth: Again a calorie is simply a form of measurement. Don’t be obsessed with them, rather appreciate a healthy, wholesome diet devoid of junk and high calorie/low nutrient types of foods. If you’re spending a lot of your time looking at labels there’s something wrong. Remember garden fresh is the rule of the day. Enjoy the best calories mother earth can provide.
Eat well and forget about counting!