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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 December 9, 2019

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

        Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

        Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

        1. Get Rationally Optimistic

        Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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        This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

        In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

        The result: no more mental stress.

        2. Unplug

        Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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        How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

        It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

        Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

        3. Easy on the Caffeine

        Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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        Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

        4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

        That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

        How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

        • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
        • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
        • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

        While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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        5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

        This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

        The result: mental stress will be gone!

        So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

        More to Help You Feel Relaxed

        Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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