I keep saying that all calories are the same as far as your body’s energy needs and storage capacity are concerned. Your body either burns them as fuel or saves them for later. That’s it.
But we know some food choices are better than others, and that’s where calorie budgeting comes into play.
300 calories in a candy bar are 300 calories.
300 calories in a piece of chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli are 300 calories.
As far as the energy value – they are identical. If you exceed your recommended caloric intake of that healthy meal by eating it twelve times in one day, those calories will be stored like any other calories.
But I think the difference should be obvious. What is your body going to do with everything that came along with those calories?
Well, it’s going to use the complex carbs for energy. It’s going to use the protein to increase your lean muscle mass. It’s going to provide you with fiber to keep your digestive system rolling along.
There’s not a lot of that going on in the candy bar.
Conclusion – calories are all equal. But the food choices we make to obtain those calories are NOT.
What exactly is your recommended caloric allowance? That depends on many factors: your age, your activity level, your lean body mass, your gender. To find out mine, I asked the man with the plans. Get your plan and get started today!
There rides a calorie, on a white horse. He stands for all that is good and right in the world. He came from a blueberry, and he is proud. He is a GOOD calorie.
There slinks a calorie through the shadows. He is menacing and grim. He came into town in a peanut butter cup, and he aims to wreck the place. He is a BAD calorie.
Are you on the edge of your seat?
At the end of the movie, our hero and villain make a surprising and heart-warming discovery: they are both exactly the same.
The issue with your calories isn’t where they came from. It’s how many of them you are consuming. As far as the calorie’s role as an energy unit goes, your body has no clue whether those extra calories came from a doughnut or a celery stalk. All it knows is that there are too many of them, and now your body is looking for storage space.
If you take in excessive calories all at once, there is only ONE place in your body they can go: your fat cells. Your muscle cells will turn excess sugar away – they don’t need it. But your fat cells are in essence teeny warehouses for storage of energy, and they will happily take in that extra sugar at any time.
When you eat calories, they have to GO somewhere – they can’t disappear. They will be:
That’s it. There is no third option.
How do you determine what your daily caloric intake should be? Your best bet is to enlist the help of a personal trainer with years of experience doing just that.
When it comes to staying within your healthiest calorie range, portion control is key. Studies show that we are notorious for underestimating what we have served ourselves, and once it’s in the bowl or on the plate, we tend to eat it all. Here are a few tips to make that a bit easier:
Small plastic containers are helpful and convenient. When you bring groceries home, split snack foods up into serving sizes. Pop them in the containers, and stack them up. No guesswork when you grab one in a hurry. This is great for kids, too.
Snacks and cereal that need to remain boxed can get a small but useful change. Take a large marker, and write the serving size in BIG numbers on the front of the box. It’s easier to see, and serves as a reminder to stick to the portion size.
Keep your measuring cups close at hand. I have mine hanging from hooks right under the cupboard. You’re more apt to measure your food if you don’t have to rummage through a drawer every time.
Get a small kitchen scale. It takes the guesswork out of servings that are measured by weight instead of quantity.
Smaller bowls and plates look fuller than large ones with the same amount of food on them.
Don’t eat right out of the bag or box! Keeping a special bowl just for snacks is a great idea. It can be fancy, or your favorite color, or have Pinkie Pie on it – just as long as it’s small, and you always use it rather than nomming from the box.
As with many things in life, the small changes can add up to big results. You’re going to hear that a lot from me!
I can help you out with general tips and encouragement, but if you need a comprehensive plan and in-depth help, Brian is your man.
“I don’t have very much money … But I didn’t buy that dress last week, so I’ll treat myself to these shoes today!”
We have all made those mental bargains.
But our check account does not know the difference between the dress we didn’t buy, and the shoes we did. If there isn’t enough money, there isn’t enough money.
It’s the same way with calories. We might pass up the chicken wings – then reward ourselves for being good by having a piece of cake.
But if we exceed our allotted calories, our body will not not know the difference between wings and cake.
You need to treat yourself sometimes, whether with a pair of shoes, or a slice of yummy cake. But check your budget first! The shoes might have to wait for the next paycheck, and the cake might have to wait for another day.
These little guys have a very rich, dark chocolate flavor. They may be bitter to some people’s liking. Any recipe can be modified, but always adjust your calories to reflect the modifications. I heartily recommend “My Fitness Pal” as a resource for weight loss, gain, or maintenance. The app allows you to create and edit your own recipes, and gives you nutritional information about your finished food. You can change ingredients, change serving sizes, and log the food in your diary.
1 6-ounce container of nonfat vanilla yogurt
¼ cup skim milk
½ cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup quick rolled oats
½ cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together all ingredients. Flour can be substituted for the oats, which will result in a smoother, less chewy texture. I prefer the extra bulk – I substitute oatmeal into a lot of recipes. The resulting caloric value will be higher if you get the same yield, but I found I got a few more brownies using flour, so it nearly balances out. If using oats, allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes as the oats absorb some of the liquid.
Use a low- or non-fat cooking spray to grease mini-muffin tins. Place about a tablespoon of mix in each cup. Bake for 10-15 minutes until brownies are firm.
Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from pan.
Makes about 18, depending on how much batter you put in each cup. These should be kept refrigerated, due to the yogurt.
Calories 49; fat 1 g; cholesterol 12 mg; sodium 43 mg; potassium 58 mg; carbs 11 g; fiber 1 g; sugar 7 g; protein 2 g; calcium and iron 3% daily value (based on a 2000 cal/day diet * information provided is based on calculations using the “My Fitness Pal” recipe app. BCF receives no compensation from that app nor its developers for mention on our site.
There are as many reasons for wanting to improve your health as there are people seeking help. It’s important that we at BCF understand your reasons, but it’s far more important that YOU understand your own reasons.
Do you want to fit back into clothes you have outgrown? Do you need to lower your blood pressure? Do you want to compete in an upcoming event? Are you a hiking enthusiast, and wish to improve your stamina? Do you want to lower your risk for certain diseases?
Keeping those reasons at the forefront of your mind will help you achieve your goals. I have my list of reasons on my daily “to do” list, and I review them every time I feel discouraged. Every reason I have matters to me a great deal, and when I focus on them, it’s easier to say no to cookies, and shoot for two more repetitions with my dumbbells.