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Posts Tagged calories

A calorie is a calorie. Nope. Not really.

You’ve heard that before, right? Losing weight is literally just about calories in vs. calories out. You burn 3500 calories more than you take in and you’ll lose a pound. Well, that’s true. But. Not so fast on the whole “a calorie is a calorie” thing.

It’s true there’s been people to experiment with this. There’s that guy who lost weight by eating twinkies only. He kept his total calories low enough to where he still lost weight. So yes, in the short term, this can work. If that’s all you’re looking to do is lose weight short term.

But if you’re like most of us – and you’d like to lose some weight, or lose some fat, or tone up, or get healthy, or get fit…and all those wonderful things…and you’re not looking for a short term fix…then here’s what you need to know.

A calorie is not just a calorie.

Here’s the deal. You still will want to keep your calories in check. You should figure out how many you should be eating, and shoot for it. But – 100 calories of a twinkie is NOT the same as 100 calories of greek yogurt. Or 100 calories of whole grain crackers. Or 100 calories of fruit. You get the idea.

Here’s why:

* Sugar, artificial colors, preservatives, etc slow your metabolism down, are processed like JUNK (which they are) and give you no nutrtition and no benefits

* Nutrients like protein and fiber that are found in fruits, veggies, whole grains are actually utilized by your body, help to raise your metabolism, keep you fuller, and on and on.

So if I ate a 100% whole grain bagel that was 300 calories, I would benefit from the fiber that it has that the 300 calorie white (or asiago cheese, or sesame, or ‘wheat’ that isnt’ 100%) bagel does not. The fiber will keep me fuller, and helps move food through my system, helps prevent diabetes and heart disease and helps aid in a healthy weight (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033)

So even though both bagels are 300 calories, it is much more beneficial to choose the whole wheat one. (just make sure you don’t choose breads that say ‘wheat’. Those are 100% whole wheat!)

I hope that helps clear up the myth that ‘a calorie is a calorie’. While it’s literally true…it definitely isn’t a healthy way to look at your diet.

Eating in an overall healthy way, looking for nutrients and whole foods, is a much more healthy and sustainable way of life. Getting healthy isn’t about a quick fix, it’s about a lifestyle change and eating for fuel.

 

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Can’t I just ‘burn off’ bad food with exercise?

We’ve all probably said it at some point. “I work out because I love to eat.” Or, “I can eat this double bacon cheeseburger with extra large fries and a milkshake, I’ll just run a couple of extra miles today.” While working out obviously does burn calories, it’s a little more complicated than just that.

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First, it’s hard to know exactly how many calories you’re actually burning. If you have a good heart rate monitor, you can come close, but it’s still not exact. Same thing with figuring out how many calories you should eat in a day. Unless you go and actually get your metabolic rate tested, you’re just going to be making an educated guess.

Not only that, but, eating unhealthy foods or too much of a food group affects your body with more than just extra calories. For instance, in the example above, eating a double bacon cheeseburger and fries and a milkshake could be anywhere from about 1000-2000 calories at one sitting. First of all, that’s a LOT more running than a few miles. For me, that’s more like running 20 miles. Seriously. BUT also some of the sugar from the milkshake gets stored as fat. The carbs in the fries and the bun that your body doesn’t need for fuel gets turned into sugar and stored as fat. You’ll be storing more than you can burn. Even if you work out. And I don’t know anyone who has a metabolism good enough to actually metabolize 2000 calories in one sitting.

Having said all of that, I don’t want to make you think that working out doesn’t help with eating some unwise choices. It still does. It’s still better than eating all of that and then sitting on your couch the rest of the week. My point here is to try to help you realize that it’s more than just ‘calories in versus calories out’. If you want to be fit, lose weight, be toned and feel amazing, you will have to consider  your choices. Eat healthy most days. Definitely indulge once in a while. It’ll keep you sane. Just try to keep your indulgences small. Instead of that double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a shake, have a regular cheeseburger, small fry, and split the shake with someone. And don’t do it more than once a week.

There’s another point here that should be brought up as well. If you have the mindset of essentially punishing yourself for bad food choices with a workout, then you’ll come to resent your workouts. Your workouts should be your reward. Your happy time. Doing something good for yourself. Be proud of it!

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Love that picture. Not only the message, but how strong and fit she is. Folks, I’m telling you right now, she doesn’t eat unhealthy stuff often. Not looking like that. The good news is, once you get the junk out of your food, you will feel amazing and you won’t even crave it very much anymore. *I speak from experience*

And now that you know that excess carbs and sugar get stored as fat, consider spacing out your carbs into small amounts throughout the day. Your body needs some carbs, so don’t cut them out, but just keep your portions small  and spaced out so your body can use them. In fact, try timing your workout to be about an hour after eating a meal that includes carbs. This will help your body to actually use them as fuel instead of store them as fat.

So tell me, since we’re talking about food choices, what are some of your favorite, healthy snacks? I’d love to know, and I know my readers are always on the lookout for good snack ideas.

(BTW, I just looooove Pinterest. That’s where I got those photos, in case you were wondering) 🙂

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