Caloric Consumption: A Calorie is Not Just a Calorie
As we begin our fitness journey we all start at different stages. Some of us are a bit skinny and would like to gain weight, others on the other end of the spectrum may want to lose a few pounds, and some would simply like to maintain what they’ve already obtained. No matter what your goal may be, it is important to remember “What gets measured gets managed” I heard this quote a couple years back and it helped me not only with fitness but other aspects in life. If you find it difficult to remind yourself to write things down in hopes of getting ahead I highly recommend using “What gets measured gets managed” as a mantra.
That being said if you’re counting calories, you’re right – it’s important not to over or under eat. That’s why we count calories in the first place, right? It’s always better to eat exactly what your body needs, nothing more and nothing less. But how do we know what our body needs?
A calorie is a way to measure energy. You can calculate how many of those you need by adding your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) + expenditure throughout the day.
- The number of calories you need in order for your body to function while resting (aka your metabolism).
- This will change depending on what you’re doing. When you exercise, your BMR goes up. When you sleep, it goes down. But it’s always working and burning calories so your body can do what it needs to do. Think breathing, pumping blood to your heart, and anything else you do to stay alive.
You can figure out your BMR using the Harris-Benedict formula. Men and women have different versions of it and it’s a little mathy. There are also body fat analyzers you can buy that will calculate this for you. Or you can talk to us and we’re happy to help, no fancy tools needed.
The main things you should focus on are
- Taking in the number of calories you need in order to live your life.
- Making up for any extra calories you burned by working out.
- Drink lots of water, green or black tea.
- And eat smaller meals throughout the day.
Quality of Food – it Matters
But while you’re focusing, remember a calorie is not just a calorie. Choosing what you eat based on the math we just talked about could leave you looking and feeling great… or not. Depending on how your calories stacked up.
Most of us either know or have heard of a person that looks magnificent on the outside, abs showing, nice muscle definition, etc. But then they get a heart attack, or blood lab results come back showing high cholesterol, and or vitamin deficiencies, meaning we find out that their insides don’t quite match their “beautiful” exterior
This can be boiled down to the simple fact that food has biological value. Whole food is better than processed food, and at the end of the day this is one of the simplest dietary choices you can possibly make to look and feel better.
For example – a handful of almonds has about the same number of calories as a handful of gummy bears. But which one will leave you feeling better and more satiated for longer?
Pro tip- it’s the almonds.
That comes down to how the quality of food impacts your energy needs.
Higher quality food means more energy for you. Junk foods take less energy for your body to process, so your metabolism won’t work at as high a rate as it would to process high-quality proteins, carbs, or fats. This impacts how many nutrients you can absorb from your food.
Regardless of whether or not the food you eat contains essential vitamins and minerals, If your body processes and expels the food too quickly, your gut simply won’t have enough time to extract these necessary nutrients from it either. We won’t go into too much detail in this article about it, but this is also a contributing factor in why why an all juice diet has also been proven to be an unhealthy choice.
So as you can probably see it’s a cycle, but the easiest way to use this information is to pick whole foods that you like. Your body will re-train itself to eat well once it gets rid of any cravings you might be dealing with. It’ll also start asking to eat only when you’re hungry, so you can stop focusing so much on calories and more on quality instead.
Highly Dense Micronutrient Recipes
Below are two of my favorite recipes – the first recipe is a raw marinara that I like to place over raw zucchini noodles or you can even use it as a topping on a Buddha bowl with whatever ingredients you’d like. Raw food helps fill you up because all of the nutrients are still ALIVE and it radiates life. Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think.
This second recipe is a superfood smoothie filled with antioxidants. I usually refer to this as my daily insurance policy – if you know you are packing this many vitamins and minerals for your first meal than you don’t have to worry as much for the rest of the day.