I’m always hearing people (guys & gals alike) talk about how many calories they can have each day & I’m still not sure as to why this came to be so popular. Calories are simply a way to measure the energy in food and the energy released in your body.
If you’re not lazy and maintain an active lifestyle, you DON’T need to count calories. Ever.
A calorie is NOT a nutrient, but certain nutrients do in fact provide calories. Protein, carbs and fat make up the calorie contents of our food. Although not considered a nutrient, alcohol also provides calories. As a matter of fact:
- 1g Alcohol contains 7 calories
- 1g Fat contains 9 calories
- 1g Protein contains 4 calories
- 1g Carbohydrate contains 4 calories
- 1g Sugar contains 4 calories
Your remaining nutrients – water, vitamins & minerals – don’t provide any calories. The same goes for fiber & cholesterol.
Not all calories are created equal.
Empty-calorie foods have nothing in them as far as nutrition goes, except for calories. Sugary foods, such as candy and ice cream are notoriously empty caloried. If you happen to be restricting calories, have an empty calorie food or two is not going to kill you. If you do happen to indulge, just remember that you’re missing an opportunity for clean eating and that is never good for your progress.
Nutrient-dense foods are the opposite of empty-calorie foods. These foods pack a mean nutritional punch by providing a solid amount of vitamins, minerals, and/or fiber in comparison to the number of calories they provide. If you’re going to take the time to read a label inquiring about calories you might as well peek at the actual nutrient content while you’re at it! 😉
Check out the following highly informative piece on the importance of emphasis on nutrient density rather than calories.
If you’ve got any questions or feedback drop me a line in the comments section below.
-David “Nutrient Density” McCready
Focus On Nutrient Density Instead Of Calories
It’s probably a mental checklist in your head or perhaps an app on your phone. You tabulate: Breakfast, 320. Lunch, 410. And barter with yourself: Afternoon snack, 100 or pre-dinner cocktails? Or have both and skip dinner? If you’re keeping tabs on calories, you’re not alone the majority of us have dabbled in this time-sapping, often inaccurate pastime. And why not? Calories in versus calories out has become the mantra by which we measure weight gain and weight loss. The problem with this approach is that counting calories typically leads to cutting calories and the combo is damaging to both your waistline and your health.
When you chronically lower caloric intake, your body interprets it as starvation a stress situation and a number of things happen, says Dr. Jeffrey Morrison. œThe catabolic hormone cortisol is produced, which goes to work promoting fat storage, depressing the immune system, and creating fatigue; the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin is upregulated, which makes you want to eat more; and the active thyroid hormone T3 is deactivated, causing the production of Reverse T3, which binds to certain receptor sites and essentially prevents your metabolism from turning on. If that’s not enough of a wake-up call to rethink the approach, consider this: When you focus on calories everything becomes about the numbers rather than the nutrition and you can end up losing out on key vitamins and minerals.
A highly processed snack pack with 100 Calories emblazoned on it suddenly seems like a deal. So you pass on that large apple that rings in at roughly the same amount of calories. But that apple also delivers Vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium (necessary for muscle contractions), and Vitamin B6, thiamin, and riboflavin (a trio that happens to aid healthy metabolism). Get our drift?
Start thinking in terms of nutrients instead of calories. Choose foods that give you a bigger nutritional bang for your buck, rather than processed junk with a lower caloric tally. œThose empty-calorie foods are simple carbs that are processed quickly and don’t support optimal cell function, says Morrison, who recommends focusing the bulk of your diet on nutrient-rich vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Try sulforaphane-rich Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage, chicken, turkey, and fish, and nuts and monounsaturated olive oil. Supplement that fare with complex carbs that digest slowly and help keep your metabolism revved like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and Irish oats.
œSulforaphanes improve liver detoxification and help remove bad estrogens from the body, reducing your risk of estrogen-related cancers like breast and prostate cancer, says Morrison. œAnd quinoa is very nutrient-dense with all the essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals you need, plus it’s the most complete protein of all the grains.
So quit all that calculating and get creative in the kitchen with our nutrient-dense Tasting Table recipes: