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Energy in VS Energy out. Should calorie content overide nutritional value?? 

Posted Jun 23 2010 12:00am

I'm asked about the calorie content of food on a daily, if not hourly basis. It's great to see people concerned about the caloric impact of the food they eat on their bodies.

Because shedding excess kilos and body fat is generally the most common goal among people who embark on a new healthy lifestyle, it's no surprise that controlling how many calories we consume is important, if we want to succeed with this goal. I generally recommend my clients spend a week or so jotting down what foods they consume and then this makes the next process so much easier. Once the food diary is complete, I recommend an eating plan for them to follow, with the foods they like and enjoy already. I feel making suggestions to food intake is a very personal issue and we all like different foods, so rather than a "diet" or a "one size fits all" eating plan, I personalize it and keep it in a suitable calorie range for them to lose fat. Through my years of experience, being ridged just doesn't work. Neither does constant monitoring and checking of calorie content. You should only need to check the calorie content of any new foods you introduce, not ones you eat on a regular basis. For example if you eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday, there is no need to add up the calorie content daily (you should know it!) however if you introduced a new muesli, check the nutritional panel and make a note of it. Counting calories, for every meal, is a waste of time not to mention soul destroying. Your new food choices should be fun and interesting. There is nothing boring about the awesome abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds, lean proteins. legumes and grains.

At the end of the day, the scientific reason you lose weight is because you create a deficit in the energy you burn and the energy (calories) you eat. Energy in vs Energy out. We eat less, move more and we generally see a change in our body composition. However, should we choose to eat junk food or nutrient deficient foods just because we have 500 cals to "use up"? This is where many health professional are divided. Ive seen and heard terrible recommendations that fitness/ health professionals give to their clients and It is my opinion that we should not forget about the actual nutritional value of food. We should not just take the calorie value in to account but the impact the food has on our bodies and in future our overall health. Say you try to consume 1400 calories per day, you could choose to eat 5-6 healthy nutrient dense meals (oats on the morning, snacks of fruit and nuts. Grainy bread sandwiches with protein and salad filing and a delicious piece of steak and veg for dinner) or you could choose to have a one Big Mac meal. Both have similar calorie content and following the calorie in vs calorie out, there is no difference, you would lose weight doing both BUT, take a
moment to think about how the calories will effect your body. Where are the calories coming from? Fat? Sugar? The nutrient packed 5-6 meals will have less calories from fat, will keep your hunger levels at bay and nourish your body. The big mac meal means you eat only once for the whole day. And although we like a treat, we have all seen the impact of eating junk food on a daily basis (Supersize Me). The big mac meal contains most of calories from fat and sugar. The fat content in the meal is more than you should consume in a day. The carbohydrate level (over 190) would allow you to store enough energy for
Normal bodily functions for 2 days. It's slightly scary but unfortunately people eat this way.

So next time you are choosing foods based on their calorie content, to either stay health or lose body fat, think about the impact they will have on your body. Make yourself familiar with calorie content, without becoming obsessed, and choose wisely.

Below are some options for you to look at. All contain similar calories but has a very different impact on your body and success. Check it out
1. Fruit salad (3 cups) 222 cals ( fat 5%, carb 87%, protein 8%) VS

Gaytime icecream (1) 233 cals (57% fat, 37% carb, 5% protein)

2. Mixed nuts roasted and unsalted (50g) 299 cals (80% fat -only 17% saturated, 6% carb, 14% protein) VS

Dairy Milk chocolate bar (55g) 292 cals (fat 57% with 50% Saturated, 43% carb and 6% protein)

Although the fat is high, look at the saturated component. The nuts are the better option

3. Beef stir fry with oyster sauce (530g) 309 cals (28% fat, 33% carb, 39% protein) VS

1 pizza slice (120g) 280cals (fat41% , carb 44%, protein 15%)

Once you spend a little time looking you will be amazed at how some of the foods you choose for their seemingly good calorie value might not be the best choice for your health. Knowledge is power! The Internet has an abundant supply of knowledge. A great site is Simply punch in a food and up comes your nutritional information.

So no excuses when it comes to calorie content Vs nutritional value, you've been told!
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