Are you an avid calorie counter? Do you know the calorific content of lots of different foods without referring to the label? Do you check your smart watch or fitness app when you have completed a workout to check how many calories you have used? If the answer to these questions is yes- then read on and hopefully you will be released from the curse of the calorie and can look at your food as something more than the amount of calories that it is giving to you!
Calories DO NOT measure how fattening a food is
A calorie is a unit of energy which is thought to have originated around the 1850's.
In 1863 a calorie was defined as the heat required to raise the temperature of 1 litre of water by 1 degree. The French Chemist Lavoisier used it to refer to the body's internal heat source.
Lavoisier also used guinea pigs and surrounded them with ice to observe how they converted food to heat energy. Poor guinea pigs!
Another scientist Atwater measured the energy given off by different foods and his findings are still used today by some food manufacturers in labelling.
The accuracy of these experiments is now questionable and new science is emerging which shows calorific values of some foods are vastly incorrect. On top of this foods that are cooked and processed will be metabolised by the body differently.
It is now coming to light that many many factors are built into an individuals ability to burn energy and so the calorie is different for everyone!
The time we eat
stress- has a huge impact!
to name a few!
The WHO guidelines suggest that adult males need 2500 calories and adult females 2000 in order to stay in energy balance. Several studies have shown that basic living uses about 1600 calories and so if we follow the WHO guidelines we still need to burn off 900 calories in order to stay in energy balance - that's a lot of spinning, running or swimming for those of you addicted to looking at how many calories that fitness class has burnt.
The calorie content of meals both on packaging and in restaurants may not only be inaccurate as the science may be out of date. But also damaging especially for those with issues around calories who obsess about the number they have eaten.
It is however not the calorie that is a at fault.
The way it has been marketed to us and how we have manipulated the data to make it so believable that low calorie foods and snacks are deemed "normal".
These foods are often devoid of key nutrients, full of additives and chemicals that it is no wonder that our hunger is not satisfied when we eat these foods and we become more nutritionally depleted.
What can you do to remove yourself from the curse of the calorie?
1) Stop buying low calorie, low fat, low sugar diet meals. They are full of chemicals that your body does not need and your liver finds harder to detoxify. Instead, start to eat as basic and natural a diet as possible.
2) Look after your gut health - as this has a huge impact on the way your body metabolises the food you eat. Check if you have leaky gut syndrome - IBS type symptoms and if you get bloated and make lots of gas and are a religious sugar substitute then this may well be the cause of your issues. - many of these chemicals get converted to substances that cause gas and often diarrhoea.
3) Deep dive into your lifestyle especially chronic stress - This has an impact on many factors and hormones as well as blood sugar and abdominal weight gain. follow this link for more details on the stress response and your nutrition.
4) Stop counting the calorific value of your food and instead find out its nutritional value. In other words, look at the food you eat as nourishment to the amazing machine called your human body and discover and learn about the nutrients your machine needs to support your optimal health. Once you become well nourished and support your body with key vitamins and minerals rather than with manufactured chemicals from highly processed foods that claim to be nutritious you will be amazed that you will start to have more energy, your health will generally improve and you will over time start to lose excess weight without counting calories and standing on the scales.
5) Finally and by no means last STOP celebrating weight loss.
Instead focus on celebrating the changes in your habits and daily life that have occurred. Look at the behaviour changes and small daily habits that you make to support your health. Just like you clean your teeth every day to stop tooth decay, look at what you can do every day to support your weight management. If you want to be slimmer DONT DIET- behave like a slim person. Just like if you wanted to run a marathon behave like a runner.
And think of those guinea pigs almost 200 years ago and how science has moved on since then!
If you would like to discuss how working with me may help you achieve optimal wellness please feel free to book a discovery call