Calories are Not Created Equal

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Somehow we got to a point of misunderstanding when it comes to eating well.

There is this notion that calories were the most important aspect of the food.

Maybe it is because people have put together the oversimplified thought that “calories in vs. calories out” is how we control our weight.

It is right up there with the false logic that a pound of fat is 3500 calories so if we cut 500 per day for a week then we will lose a pound of fat per week.

Body composition is far too complex for that to be the solution.

Now when people look at me they pretty much scoff at the idea that I know anything about fat loss because I do not weigh a lot right now.

These people are wrong because I have experienced 30 pound weight loss.

Anyone that I talk to that is pursuing fat loss wants to lose 20 pounds. I do not know why this is the magic number but it is true.

I have been there and it was not an easy process. The hardest lesson I had to learn was that calories are not created equal.

I used to be there counting everything up, measuring portion sizes, looking up food labels, and plugging everything in to an online program every day.

How could I not be losing any weight when I was under my calories?

The problem was that most of the food I was eating was packaged, processed, or already prepared.

Basic nutrition classes are all about the science of the food and do not take a step back to address food quality.

They want you to avoid saturated fats and empty calories but still recommend tons of cereals, breads, and pastas.

It does not matter if they are whole grain or not, too much is going to cause weight gain.

But there I was every day eating those same foods because I was hitting my calories and grams of carbohydrate for the day.

The main problem here is that different foods elicit different effects on the body.

100 calories of vegetables does not equal 100 calories of candy. Candy lacks nutrients and vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

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That is an extreme example but the less subtle options exist. These “borderline” foods make eating healthy very confusing.

This is where whole grains, low fat, sugar free, and natural come into play.

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These are all words with no regulation and are usually not good for you.

Whole grains are a highly debated topic and I believe that they should be avoided unless: 1. You exercised hard that day and 2. You are eating the whole grain alone from its raw form.

This does not include whole grain goldfish or multigrain cheerios. If you are going to eat grains keep it to things like quinoa and oats.

A processed food made with whole grains is still a processed food and is probably junk.

This is where the confusion comes into play. Something might sound like a great idea but it could be made out of 1000 ingredients and run a toll on the body.

All of the other low fat or low calorie foods are not good for you either. If it is well known that cookies and crackers are junk food, then why would only 100 calories of it make them ok?

If you want to determine is your food is healthy or not follow this checklist.

1. It should be in the perimeter of the store. This is where the fresh foods are as opposed to the aisles.
2. There should be 5 ingredients or less. Too many ingredients make science projects, not food.
3. No preservatives or additives. If you cannot pronounce any of the ingredients, skip it.
4. Eat tons of meat, fish, and poultry.
5. Vegetables and fruit are a no brainer.
6. Avoid things that are already cooked or prepared. You have no clue how it was cooked and do not know what’s in it.

The main thing here is that you cannot just eat whatever you want because it is low calorie or fits in with your daily calories.

You have to stick to healthy options like produce and lean proteins. When in doubt, fall back on these two options.

Whole grain crackers with low fat dip are just as bad for you as eating a bag of chips. They are both processed, refined disasters.

We want to get the most bang for our buck and healthier foods are more nutrient dense, will make you feel better, and help create the body you want.