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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 November 11, 2019

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

        To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

        Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

        1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

        Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

        Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

        To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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        2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

        Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

        If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

        Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

        3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

        Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

        Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

        4. Feed Your Brain

        Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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        This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

        Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

        Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

        5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

        According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

        Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

        Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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        6. Write it Down

        If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

        It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

        You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

        7. Listen to Music

        Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

        8. Visual Concepts

        In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

        Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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        Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

        9. Teach Someone Else

        Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

        Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

        10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

        Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

        So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

        Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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