A Lesson in Calories

Do you want to know one of the biggest wastes of time when trying to loose weight or add muscle; counting calories. While at first this practice seems like a mandatory habit, science just doesn’t support it. First off we have the practice that most scientist use to determine a food or substance’s caloric content; they burn it! When you burn food, it gives off heat, by plugging the measurement of this heat into an equation we get an estimate of the caloric value of that food, or substance. Unfortunately your body does not literally burn food, but digests it into its chemical components and parts, most of which are not absorbed by the body but passed out as stole. Thanks to the junk we have been fueling our bodies with for centuries  our digestive systems have become hugely inefficient at absorbing nutrients from food. Even if you know exactly how many calories are going down your throat there just is no practical way to know how much is actually making it into the bloodstream.


Counting calories also relies on the assumption that food manufacturers and even our own government are being truthful and accurate in their estimates provided on labels. One need only cruise through any fitness magazine on-line or in your bookstore to find an article about just how inaccurate these calorie amounts listed on food labels and restaurant menus are. Added to this the fact that over the last 30 years the actual substance and nutrient content of most foods has drastically changed, while the government and food industry continues to use and report caloric estimates that are decades old. Just in case that wasn’t bad enough most calorie estimates given on food labels are based on serving sizes most Americans just have no practical  concept of or would never consume anyway. Many Americans just eat too much!


If you want to watch what you eat focus on serving size and nutritional makeup. Eat on smaller plates, and eat bigger helpings of vegetables which are naturally higher in vitamins and minerals but drastically lower in calories than grains, starches, and simple carbs. Eat meat but be smart! One serving of beef is 6oz. or around the size of a closed fist. There’s no need to eat a 19oz steak at one sitting! The same goes for Chicken and pork. Also instead of counting calories start counting meals and ounces.  The average serving size of any side item should be one half cup, not two heaping serving spoons. Eat Legumes and nuts they are full of fiber, protein, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Avoid gorging on high fat nuts though like peanuts, and macadamia. Some things should be consumed in moderation not as a meal itself. And Drink more water!


Finally keep it simple. Drastic measures produce drastic disappointment and boredom. Any diet that promises drastic results is most likely asking you to omit something entirely or do something extreme. I am a strong supporter of natural eating and organic foods. I often ask myself; did my ancestors survive without this in their diet? That being said I am not a cave man, and most of them are dead now, replaced by their more adaptable, flexible cousins the Homo Sapiens. Animals grow, they evolve, and adapt to changing conditions. Just because food we eat now wasn’t around in 10,000 BC doesn’t mean it should be excluded out of hand.


Many foods today are nutritional powerhouses, that our ancestors would have been lucky to have. You don’t turn your back on progress and technology when it comes to phones and televisions so don’t be a hypocrite when it comes to food. If something you consume works; adds muscle, lowers fat and makes you feel great then eat it. The problem with rules is that they relay on averages and the average human people. There are many exceptions to rules though and you may be one so have the intelligence to try things for yourself before dismissing it altogether. Likewise just because something works great for you doesn’t mean its for everyone. Individuals can have wildly different metabolisms, chemical and hormonal balances, and abilities.


Remember this too, regardless of what the crowd says or marketing; if something feels like a chore or makes you feel like hell doing it, chances are you won’t stick with it. You shouldn’t have to obsess over what you eat. Following a few simple guidelines, thinking about what you eat and being honest with yourself,  can insure eating healthy does not have to be difficult.

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