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Why Focusing on the Calorie Doesn’t Help You Eat Healthier

Why Focusing on the Calorie Doesn’t Help You Eat Healthier

When it comes to eating healthier or attempting to lose weight, it can be overwhelming to know what to focus on. Some “experts” tell you to focus on carbs, others sugar, and some calories. When looking at the nutrition label on food packaging, the easiest thing to focus on, and often the largest, boldest item, is the calorie count. It seems logical to think that lower calorie foods equal healthy foods, but that’s not always true.

    If you focus strictly on how many/few calories you’re intaking, you may be cheating yourself out of important protein your body needs. When you cheat yourself out of calories, your body will use the protein you do eat for energy rather than applying it toward building muscle, improving immunity, and aiding in the health of your hair, skin and nails.[1]

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    According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), adult women and men should aim to consume 46g to 56g of protein per day, respectively. Those individuals who are especially physically active may require more.[2]

    Before you get too excited about an excuse to eat more calories, here’s the catch: when focusing on intaking the perfect calorie amount, you may inadvertently intake more carbohydrates than you need.

    Carbs come in a variety of forms. Some are complex which break down in such a way that assist in workout and your overall health. Unfortunately, most of the yummy, carb-filled foods we tend to reach for such as pasta, potato chips and doughnuts are bad carbs. They also tend to be high in calories. But before you think that high calories equals to high carbs and the decision making is simple, think again.[3] Low calorie foods like sweet potatoes and oats are high in carbs which are more than your body needs.

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    Look beyond the calories

      Instead of getting hung up on total calories, a simple way to screen all the options you see in a day to look at the ratio of carbs to protein. A small increase in protein intake along with slightly fewer calories help us to be healthier. A 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that increasing protein intake and limiting carb consumption can help overweight individuals reduce calories to achieve successful (and healthy) weight loss.

      Utilize the Ratio

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        Maintaining a better balance of carbohydrates to protein will give you sufficient energy while improving your health. Set a goal of eating foods that have a ratio of one gram of carbs for every one gram of protein can ensure that you are not overloading on carbs but are intaking enough protein.

        Avoid foods . Most chips and cereals have a 10 to 1 carbs-to-protein ratio, avoid them. In fact, avoid foods with a ratio higher than 5 to 1 carbs to protein.

        Before you start grabbing carb-filled items and using this ratio as an excuse, remember to focus on the healthy sources of calories, carbs and protein. If you aren’t sure where to start, stock your fridge and pantry with lean meats like fish, poultry, eggs, cottage cheese and tofu. Nuts, seeds, grains and yogurt are great examples of snacks that will help you stick to your goals, too.

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        Not only will you lose weight, but you’ll feel better with more energy. Your body will be so grateful to you.

        Start your grocery list now

        It may feel overwhelming to stop focusing on calories and shift your attention to carbs and protein, but with a well stocked kitchen, it will be easier than you think. As it stands now, your intense focus on calories equating to health can cheat you out of the real nutrition your body needs. So don’t go another day depriving your body of what it truly needs.

        Featured photo credit: Christopher Flowers, Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

        Reference

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        Samantha Aloysius

        Samantha is an everyday health expert with a background in International Public Health and Psychology and has experience in diabetes care counselling.

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        Last Updated on May 21, 2020

        The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

        The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

        You have probably seen enough fad diets to last a lifetime. Many have become popular overnight and left just as quickly.

        Some fad diets, though, have actually passed the test of time and are making some headway in the nutritional world.

        Outlined below are four fad diets that are actually beneficial for your health and wellness. Read on to find out why you should consider adopting one (or more) of these healthy eating styles today.

        An important concept you should keep in mind is to disregard the term “diet” as it is typically used. The word diet implies the idea of restriction and removal. Instead, think of the word diet in this context as a healthy eating lifestyle.

        Let’s take a look at some of these healthy eating lifestyles that have been categorized, by no fault of their own, as fad diets.

        1. The Paleo Diet

        The paleo diet, or ancestral eating, is simply eating the way your paleolithic ancestors would have up to 10,000 years ago, or when the agriculture age began.

        The advantage now is you don’t have to do this in a loin cloth, unless you want to… The focus of this diet is proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds and some healthy fats.

        In the paleo diet, there aren’t any grains, starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or dairy.

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        How Your Health Can Change With Paleo

        The paleo diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control. It can also have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

        With this healthy eating lifestyle, people have also achieved good weight loss results and boast improved energy levels. [1]

        It’s not just what’s in the paleo diet that’s important, it’s what’s NOT in it. There aren’t any processed and manufactured foods, junk foods, artificial ingredients or chemical additives.

        Paleo is a way of eating that gets you more in tune with your body and, therefore, can provide a lot of benefits.

        2. Whole30

        The Whole30 diet is relatively new and owes its popularity to social media and the #Whole30 Instagram hashtag that allowed people to share and broadcast their success with the diet.

        With Whole30 you are taking 30 days and focusing on nutritious whole foods such as meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.

        During the month you are eliminating:

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        • sugar
        • alcohol
        • legumes
        • grains
        • dairy
        • soy

        Whole30 is similar to paleo, but it goes a bit further eliminating sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

        At the end of the 30 days, you strategically reintroduce those eliminated foods back into your diet to discover any possibility of health consequences from them or even potential food allergies.

        Finding Out How Food Impacts You

        Most people eat the same things so often and may not realize that certain foods are causing health consequences, as they’ve become accustomed to feeling lethargic and run down.

        With Whole30 you get the chance to see how these foods may have a negative impact on your body. You’ll also reset your taste buds, which may have become desensitized from processed and artificial “foods” and excess salt.

        This diet will help you regain your love of food… in a healthy way!

        3. The Mediterranean Diet

        The Mediterranean diet has been at the top of the list as a very effective diet for some time now.

        For people in countries like Italy or Greece, this has simply been a normal way of life–along with higher activity levels, sunlight exposure, proximity to water, and lower stress.

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        With the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on heart-healthy foods. It looks like this:

        • Fruits & vegetables
        • Whole grains
        • Legumes & nuts
        • Replacing butter with olive oil
        • Using herbs and spices instead of salt
        • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
        • Moderate amounts of red wine

        Help Your Heart & Overall Health With A Mediterranean Diet

        Information from the Mayo Clinic shows that this diet reduces heart disease and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies involving 1.5 million people demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, along with overall mortality. [2]

        With all these benefits, this is definitely a “fad diet” that’s worth the hype.

        4. The Alkaline Diet

        The alkaline diet is about changing the foods you eat so that you put your body into an alkaline state and out of an acidic state. When your body is too far on the acidic side it can result in a condition called acidosis. This can lead to issues in your body such as upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, weakness and, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can result in shock, coma, or death.

        The goal is to get your body in a more alkaline state, which results in overall better health. The focus is on including alkaline boosting foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. You’re also wanting to reduce acidic foods such as low quality beef and poultry, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol.

        Pros & Cons With The Alkaline Diet

        The benefits that come from this way of eating is that reduction in inferior quality foods, processed items and alcohol. You may feel improved energy levels, mental clarity and even better joint health.

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        People also report weight loss but again this may come from the reduction in calories from junk and processed foods but this is not a bad thing at all.

        One con with this diet is that the pH value of the food you eat might not have an impact on blood pH, as your body is able to balance this pretty well on a day-to-day basis.

        Follow These Fads for Better Health and Wellness

        There can be a danger in categorizing things as a fad diet because fads come and go. People are always looking for the next big thing or a quick fix.

        The four examples above buck that status quo. These diets, though mainstream, actually can give you benefits and aren’t going to go away anytime soon because they work.

        What makes these diets special is that they boast real whole foods and the eliminate processed and manufactured junk.

        The Big Takeaway:

        Whatever way you choose to eat, the focus needs to be on whole unprocessed foods. Look for the cleanest, local and most natural things you can find for the benefit of your overall health and wellness. Your body and mind will thank you.

        Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

        Reference

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