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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

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        Samantha Aloysius

        Samantha is an everyday health expert with a background in International Public Health and Psychology.

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        Last Updated on September 28, 2020

        The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

        The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

        At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

        Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

        One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

        When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

        So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

        Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

        This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

        Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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        When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

        Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

        One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

        Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

        An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

        When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

        Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

        Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

        We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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        By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

        Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

        While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

        I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

        You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

        Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

        When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

        Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

        Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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        Con #2: Less Human Interaction

        One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

        Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

        Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

        This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

        While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

        Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

        Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

        This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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        For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

        Con #4: Unique Distractions

        Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

        For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

        To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

        Final Thoughts

        Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

        We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

        More About Working From Home

        Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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