The Equality Of The Calorie

Calories. You can’t see a label on a food package, or now days be in a restaurant, without noticing the calorie count. If you are someone who “diets” then you might be controlled by counting calories in your day and monitoring them in the foods you eat or you may go through your day oblivious to them.

You may be waking up right now trying to get your first cup of coffee in and wondering why on earth we’re talking about calories already and “Oh my word… is she really holding a powdered donut in her hand with a box of spinach??”ย  as you note the picture I’m using for todays post.

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Yes. That’s a powdered donut. Yes, I find them kinda tasty… occasionally.

 

Yeah, you aren’t seeing things and yes we are considering calories in todays post.

But first.. what IS a calorie?

You ever realize there are things you “know” about, but don’t necessarily “think” about?ย  Like, calories have been a part of our lives forever, but do you really sit around pondering them? Other than understanding to many of them make you fat and to few make you skinny?

Simplified, a calorie is a unit of energy. In nutrition, calories refer to the energy people get from the food and drink they consume and the energy they use through physical activities.

Calories are essential for human health. The key for all of us is consuming the right amount for our health and daily activities.

There are “standard” guidelines put out suggesting what men and women need as an average each day. Iย  don’t entirely agree with that since I think caloric intake is really determined person to person based on many different factors including sex, age, size and activity level.

I may be a woman, but based on my physical training, there are probably many days I require more calories than a lot of men. I also know there are days I need less calories based on my daily activities.ย For me, not every day will have the exact same calorie need. Understanding your body, knowing what you do, and all other factors will play into what you need each day.

 

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Other calorie facts….

People in the U.S. consume more than 11% of their daily calories from fast food.ย  ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Foods high in energy and low in nutritional value provide empty calories. The parts of food that provide empty calories contain virtually no dietary fiber, amino acids, anti-oxidants, dietary minerals, or vitamins.

That being said… you shouldn’t be eating many of these foods on the daily…

Meaning, not all calories are created equal

Now back to that powdered donut….

I’m not ignorant of calories, I have a good rough estimate of what my body needs to operate on. I also understand that my caloric needs vary as to if I’m laying around for the day or if I’ve put in a lot of miles that morning on foot or bike, or both. I know that on given days my needs can look different. It’s been a road of learning on that issue.

I do not obsess over calories. I know and understand their place in my life but I don’t monitor and count them

No. Just no.

But one morning I had this revelation. I was stumbling around the kitchen and I wanted one of those donuts.

I like them, ok?ย  Don’t judge me.

There’s just something about their sweet powdery goodness that gets to me.ย  And I’ll tell you, not all are created equal either. I bought a different brand one time, took one bite of one, and didn’t touch them after that. Yuck.

But as I was drooling all over one eating it, I happened to actually glance at the calorie content on bag.

I mean, who really looks at that when they are stuffing donuts in their face?

Oh no, ignorance is bliss in that regard. Am I right my donut loving friends??

Well I couldn’t help but notice how it informed me that 4 of them would cost me….250 calories.

I did a double take. I thought my beady little eyes weren’t open fully yet and were misreading ’cause I’m old and that print isn’t what it used to be, ya know?

Nope, it was there big and bold. 250cal for 4 measly little delicious donuts.

I should mention, I never actually eat 4. Usually 2 is enough to satisfy that urge and I put them away. But it got me to thinking of foods I could have that delivered up a lot more volume and bang for my caloric buck.

I mean really, if you only get a certain number in a day, don’t you want them to have as much packed into them as possible?

Not all calories are created equal

notallcaloriesarecreatedequal

As mentioned above, empty calorie foods don’t contain the healthy nutrients your body needs. They are often high in fats ( not the good kinds) and sugars. Therefore, foods we eat each day should be nutrient dense and contain the calories we need for good health and sustaining our daily activities.

If I chose 4 small donuts at 250 calories, (130 of those coming from fat) that certainly isn’t going fill me up and will most likely cause my blood sugar to spike then I’ll come off the sugar rush.

Now consider my carton of spinach. A serving size is considered 3 cups. It contains 20 calories.

20 calories… for 3 cups.

I could honestly consume the whole carton for less than 100 calories.

Now you’re sitting there thinking… “spinach vs. donuts??” no contest… I’d take the donuts.

I can tell you this, when I useย a lot of spinach with other veggies, whipped up with some eggs for breakfast not only is my appetite satisfied, I’m not hungry for a long time. I can consume plenty of food because ( not all calories are equal remember?) meaning all those veggies and protein fill me up and keep me satisfied for hours without any of that sluggish feeling you may get eating things like donuts or pancakes or cereals and for only a small fraction of the calories.

Not to mention all those veggies, fruits and protein deliver lots of good things to feed my body in a healthy way that gives me plenty of energy and keeps me decently lean.

It’s a win/win thing.

I’m not sure about you, but I’d like to eat a decent amount of food that fills me up, but isn’t calorie laden either.

So it’s a matter of choices….

Whether you’re out to lose some weight, or just maintain a healthy place where you are now it all comes down to the caloric choices we make each day.

You can eat a whole lot of nutrient dense foods that offer tons of good health benefits for your body, that really fill you up and will contribute to weight loss or you can choose foods that are higher calorie, less nutrients and will not help you lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle.

A few things to consider;

pay attention to those labels. Note the serving sizes and calories for serving. People as a rule greatly over estimate a correct serving size.

Consider things you can swap out for a lower and healthy calorie count.

Find foods you can eat and enjoy that give you the most bang for your calorie buck.

Have a good working idea of how many calories you personally need each day to maintain or to lose weight then choose your foods wisely to support your goals and daily activities.

And hey, remember, it’s ok to have that donut now and then. ๐Ÿ˜‰

How aware of youย are caloriesย Do you think about them? Do you count them?

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To Count Or Not Count Calories

In the ways of health and fitness stuff there are some common questions that I get frequently.

One being… “Do you count calories?”

Short answer. No. I find it to be a total drag.

Nowwww… if you’re a happy calorie counter don’t get upset here ๐Ÿ˜‰ย it does and can have it’s place in helping you understand your calorie intake. It just doesn’t need to be a life long thing you must do. With all the apps out there today keeping track of your intake has never been easier. (just make sure you’re brutally honest about exact amounts of everything you eat) AND understand exactly how many calories you need to lose weight and sustain your activities.

When I started my health and fitness journey ( 8 years next month!) one of the things I set out for myself was to not have to follow a certain set of restrictive rules.

By that I honestly mean, I got rebellious with those rules every time I decided to knock a few pounds off. I didn’t like being boxed into what worked for someone else.
I didn’t want to be told what to do when or what I “had” to eat.

Consequently, I dropped it like a bad habit after a couple weeks of dieting/calorie counting/ eat this meal thing.

You know what worked and what I developed over time ?

I built new habits.

Slowly, steadily, one day at a time plodding along. If I had a day that bombed ( and trust me, I did) I didn’t throw in the towel, I just kept on going.

My new habits meant listening to my body’s God given signals for hunger and being satisfied. When you sit down and are truly hungry food tastes amazing in a different kinda way. I ate enough to satisfy my hunger and stopped.

I learned if I wasn’t hungry at the next meal I wasn’t obligated to eat just ’cause the chow bell dinged.

I didn’t restrict foods or label any as “bad” or eat only salad and rice cakes.

Moderation became my motto. I ate what I wanted but listened to my body’s signals.

I didn’t need to clean my plate…. when I was comfortable I stopped… not when I felt stuffed or heavy feeling… gosh I hate how that feels and rarely let myself go there now days.
Unfortunately, most of the world loves to continue to feed their mouth long after the tummy is satisfied. The outcome? excess pounds.

So in building some new habits of eating when I was truly hungry, and stopping when I was satisfied, and training myself to eat natural and healthy foods the majority of the time I lost weight but wasn’t dependent on calorie counting. I was listening to my body and it’s specific needs.

You can do the same thing. It takes daily discipline and a tenacious, stubborn spirit to not give up, but I tell you it’s complete freedom when you nail down these new habits. Complete freedom.

After almost 8 years… I think it’s working ๐Ÿ™‚

Tell me… do you count calories? Do you find it helpful? Or feel it’s something you must do? And if so, do you ever feel enslaved to having to do it ? Or do you know your needs and listen to your body and go by that as your guide?