Thursday, March 20, 2014

a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. or is it?

A few weeks ago I clicked on a "recommended link" on Facebook. (I'm the reason they put those things on your news feed, so I apologize.) It was for the website MindBodyGreen (excellent website, btw, so be sure to "like" it if it shows up in your news feed), and the article that caught my attention was "Why You Don't Need to Count Calories Ever Again". As someone who has been counting calories since she was thirteen, saying I was intrigued is a mild understatement. You can click on the link to read the article in its entirety (which I would recommend if you're interested), or you can read on here to see what I took away from it.

[I should preface all this by saying that yes, I would love to lose some weight - not like Biggest Loser amounts (don't even get me started on that program), but 5-10 pounds. Running would be easier without carting around extra lbs, my clothes would fit better, and (kids: earmuffs!) I want my husband to continue to think I am hot.]

There are only five bullet points in the article (I love bullet points!), and the one that spoke most to me is #2:  Crap is crap, no matter how many calories are involved. "Healthy, nutrient-rich foods will keep hunger at bay, help maintain stable blood sugar levels, minimize cravings, and enable your brain to signal your belly that it's full. Nutrient-poor foods will have the opposite effect, wreaking hormonal havoc, spiking insulin, setting off cravings, dully satiety signals, and encouraging overeating. In other words: nutrient dense foods help keep weight in check naturally, no calculator required."

The article goes on to talk about processed, portion-controlled, "diet" microwavable meals being loaded with chemicals, GMOs, allergenic and inflammatory ingredients - AND not delivering enough of the macronutrients or even volume to make you feel full. I am so guilty of grabbing a Lean Cuisine, when it is just as easy to grab an apple and a PB sandwich (on whole wheat bread, natch) when I'm in a hurry.

(One line that made me snort was about Jared losing all that weight on Subway: "No disrespect, but you have to ask: Just what was Jared living on before he went on his infamous crash sandwich diet?")

So for me, the take-away is eating healthy, real, food, such as "good" fats (coconut oil, avocados, nuts), non-starchy veggies, and healthy protein (fish and lean meat). Eat this until you're full (NOT stuffed, but satiated). The article links to another article: the Top 9 Superfoods. These are: leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, avocados, blueberries, beans, walnuts, wild salmon, chia seeds, and chocolate. I believe I have all of these in my kitchen at this very minute.

I think these are good foods, right: I mean almonds, dark chocolate, sea salt? Genola, these are your fault!

Just out of curiosity, I googled "calorie needs calculator" and clicked on the top search. According to this calculator, at my age, height, and current weight, if I exercise 3 times a week for at least an hour each time (which I do - probably more but I don't want to inflate the calories too much), I need 1839 calories each day to maintain. If I did nothing more than be in a coma (seriously, I calculated my basal metabolic rate), I need 1338 calories a day. Pretty amazing that all of the weight-loss programs recommend around 1200 calories a day. No wonder they don't work for the long term: people get so hungry that they overeat the minute they are "off" the diet. Guilty as charged.

So for now, I am eating the good stuff, minimizing the crap, and not counting calories. The scientist in me wants the data, though, so I will be putting the food in My Fitness Pal just to get the info so I can see where I am in a month. Don't worry, I'll report back.

Breakfast today, along with a big ole cup-o-joe:

like you've never seen this before: MaryLu's protein waffle and some fruit

And here's some motivation to leave you with:

just go do it

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1 comment:

  1. The waffle looks delicious. Pretty liberating not to count calories? I have never been good at it...

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