Posts Tagged ‘Burn Calories’

Nutritionists are Lying – A Calorie Isn’t a Calorie

I remember going to my first nutrition class at Penn State.

I was eager to jump right in since that was what I was there for, but had to wait until some of those darn pre req classes were out of the way.

I walked in day 1.  Liz Evans was our professor.  And she certainly didn’t look like the people I saw in the pages of the magazines I was getting all my information from up until this point.  Hey, you have to start somewhere.

Anyhow, after going over the syllabus, "one of the most important lessons in nutrition — in the entire course," Liz said, "is that all calories are equal.  Nutrition, health and weight loss are really simple" she continued "Calories in equal calories out, your weight is stable.  Calories out are more than calories in, you lose.  If calories in are more than calories out, you gain weight."

Like all the other students, I was writing as quickly as I could. 

And this message continued.  Through my masters and into my PhD, where my research focus was on teaching people how to lose weight permanently.

But it was then that I started to question things a bit more. 

REALLY?  Are all calories the same?

It didn’t make sense to me.  You see from a law of thermodynamics, it does make sense.  If you walk for 1 mile you burn 100 calories.  If you eat 100 calories worth of food, you’ve essentially created a "wash."  Nothing gained.  Nothing lost if we’re solely looking at this with regards to body weight.

But what if you compare extremes?

1 pound of sugar = 1,540 calories

~26 apples = 1,540 calories

Same calories.  But do you think the quality of 1 lb of sugar and 26 apples is the same?  Of course not…aside from the laundry list of nutrition problems eating a days worth of calories from just sugar would cause (nutrient deficiencies, scurvy, tooth decay, etc), how do you think the person eating the 1 pound of sugar would look, feel and perform after she did so?  Of course 26 apples isn’t the ideal "diet" either, but you get the point. 

It’s kind of like the saying, a pound of bricks is the same weight as a pound of feathers.  Sure, they weigh the same … but there are certainly different qualities between them, even though the scale may read the same. 

So as we started to look into this more on our own, with our own clients, and with our own writing & research … we changed our tune and go against the grain of mainstream nutrition to instead give this message:

QUALITY of the diet is more important than QUANTITY of the diet.

Of COURSE calories still do matter. 

But quality is crucial to permanent success.  And it made us even happier when we read a recent study by researchers at Harvard University confirming our point of how the quality of the diet — above and beyond just quantity — can help with fat loss.

The study certainly wasn’t the final word — and definitely had limitations — it wasn’t a "cause and effect" study, but rather a correlation study that asked over 120,000 healthy, well educated men and women about their dietary habits every 2 years for a total of between 12 and 20 years.

They then teased out some of the food items that were associated with weight loss or weight gain among the subjects. 

First, as a whole, they found that the average participant gained about 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) per year.  Who cares, right?  It’s JUST 1 lb.  The problem … year after year after year … that 1 lb adds up and people never lose it and long term it’s more and more dangerous.

The question, then, is what foods did they find contributed to the weight loss vs. those that contributed to weight gain?

Weight Loss:

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Whole grain foods

Weight Gain:

  • Sugar sweetened drinks
  • Processed meats
  • Potatoes

Interesting, huh?

Again, we’re certainly not saying there aren’t limitations to this study or this type of correlation study, but there were some interesting findings to consider.  The take home points from the authors were to not focus so heavily on calories and rather look at the quality — limit processed or refined carbohydrates and focus instead on veggies, fruits, and healthier food options … even if they are higher in calories (like nuts).  Basically a lot of this boils down to how these foods affect the hormones in our body – namely, insulin, a powerful storage hormone. 

Again, it’s not just how much you eat, but WHAT you eat. 

Just as an aside, we also don’t think potatoes are a "devil" food — we do think the ways people eat them (such as French fries) are.  Again, take this data with a grain of salt. 

At the end of the day, though, we want you to focus on overall diet QUALITY … our message remains the same.  Lots of veggies and fruits, nuts, healthy fats, lean protein and some whole grains.

Pretty basic.  But very effective.

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Can THIS Power Nutrient BOOST Weight Loss?

banana boost fat lossHave you ever heard that when you’re trying to lose weight, you should skip foods like potatoes and bananas? 

It’s usually said that because these two carbohydrates are high in the glycemic index, they should be avoided like the plague.

But is that REALLY true?  Not according to some very cool data…

Now, of course some forms of potatoes (i.e., French fries!) are junk and SHOULD be avoided like the plague.  But a good ‘ol baked potato?  Sure, just leave that skin on!

And how about bananas?  Is it really true they shoot your blood sugar through the roof when you eat them.

Ummmm, nope.

And here’s why I’m picking on these two foods in particular.  They’re actually high in this very cool, unique kind of fiber called Resistant Starch.  Other foods are too — like beans, barley, and brown rice — but bananas and potatoes get an unnecessary bad wrap, so I’m helping boost their fat loss "street cred."


There’s a good amount of data on resistant starch and it’s impressed me enough to talk about it here. 

Check out these 3 Interesting Fat Burning Breakthroughs to help you burn fat faster.

Fat Burning Breakthrough #1: Unlike most carbs, you don’t digest or absorb it.  That means it bypasses your blood stream and therefore can’t get stored as fat when not used (which is common since most people aren’t that active).  it instead gets 

Fat Burning Breakthrough #2: Animal studies show resistant starch pumps out more satiety (e.g., get full fast) hormones.

Fat Burning Breakthrough #3: One study showed replacing just a small portion (~5%) of your total carb intake with resistant starch increased fat burning by about 20-30%! 

So how do you start adding more?  Don’t shun the banana and potato.  Add beans to a salad.  Try barley instead of another less healthy carb.

Here are two insanely easy, yet very taste recipes:

I’m actually sipping on this one as I type…

Chocolate Milk Shake

1 Dole banana (frozen makes it even better)
1 cup frozen Wyman wild blueberries
3-4 cups raw spinach
1 scoop unflavored protein powder (we use
1 heaping TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1 handful raw nuts
1 tsp local honey (optional if you want more sweetness)

Blend until all ingredients are smooth and you have super healthy "milkshake"
NOTE: yes, it does say 3-4 CUPS of raw spinach … try it before you turn your nose up.  The chocolate masks it.

Potato Fries

3-4 Idaho potatoes cut into 8 wedges each
Drizzle with about 2 tsp olive oil
Sprinkle with pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to taste
Bake at 450 for about 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally until tender and crisp.

There you have it — give those two recipes a try and add more resistant starch to your diet as a simple way to boost calorie burn and lose more weight faster!

5 Fat Loss Mistakes!

Our goal isn’t just to talk about losing fat.  Anyone can lose fat, fast. What’s more important is discussing how to lose fat permanently! And I say lose "fat" because some weight is good — we don’t encourage muscle loss, so focus on body fat and you’ll be golden. Just the other day I was on the phone with a writer for a popular fitness magazine.  And the writer asked me what I thought were the top 5 fat loss mistakes that people make. He was surprised that there was barely a pause before I started rattling off the common problems I see with people who are trying to lose fat.  And it’s not that I’m some incredibly brilliant genius, it’s just that after working with 1000′s of people over the years, it’s very clear where people are struggling when trying to lose belly fat.

  1. Portions are out of control! This image is a perfect example of portion distortion.  Not that any of these are smart food options, but even if we went back to the smaller portions of each, we’d be headed in the right direction.portions-have-changed1So what can you do about it?  When at home, don’t serve family style.  You’ll eat more when serving out of a larger bowl or platter.  Read food labels, too, so you can see that sometimes 1 bottle, or 1 bag of a product, is often 2, 3 or even 4 servings!
  2. Thinking all calories are created equal! A calorie isn’t a calorie.  That might be in the face of science.  Some say that all calories are equal, meaning as long as you cut calories, you’ll lose weight.  Sure, but is your goal to lose fat or lose muscle?  And don’t you want to fuel your body with all the nutrients you can?  After all, slugging down a 250 calorie sugar laden soda is far from eating veggies and hummus, peanut butter and an apple for those same 250 calories. So a calorie isn’t a calorie — eat quality, don’t just focus on quantity!
  3. Outeating your exercise. Run 1 mile and you burn about 100 calories.  Walk 1 mile and you burn about 100 calories.  That means if you wanted to lose 1 lb/week through exercise only, you’d have to run or walk 5 miles every single day!  That’s not realistic or a good use of your time.  It’s much easier to eliminate those extra calories by replacing junk  with high nutrient fuel or eliminating calories from soft drinks, for example.  Exercise, yes, but you’ll get more bang for your weight loss buck by monitoring the foods you put in your body.
  4. Skipping breakfast as a way to "save" calories. Eat breakfast and you’ll weigh less.  It’s as simple as that.  Just eat the right types of foods — avoid sugary breakfast cereals and instead opt for fruit, raw nuts, yogurt, eggs and veggies, for example.
  5. Thinking exercise is your answer to losing fat. Exercise doesn’t work.  Nutrition does.  Sure, exercise needs to be a part of your fat loss routine, but even though you may exercise 1 hour/day, what happens the other 23 hours?

There you have it – the 5 most common fat loss mistakes! If you truly want to be permanently successful,avoid the mistakes above and you’ll be well on your way. Tomorrow we’ll be back with some fat fighting recipes!

What’s Your Number?

I’m out to dinner with some friends the other night — we were all in Florida for business and went to a really nice steakhouse.  As the nutritionist in the group, it’s usually assumed that I know the calories in every single food available.

And the question came up — "how many calories are in THAT," asking about the 24 oz Porterhouse steak that was on the menu?  "It’s probably half the calories I need each day!" 

I knew it was high — off the charts — but didn’t know the exact "number" so to speak (for those who are curious, it’s over 1700 with over 130 grams of fat).  This is especially considering it was just part of the meal — alongside garlic mashed potatoes and a veggie.

I digress.

But the point is — do you know how many calories you should be eating each day?

A recent survey of over 1,000 people shows most don’t know "their number."  And only 12% actually actually knew how much they should be eating…

So Do YOU know your number?

First, what is a calorie anyway?  Most people know the term calories — and it’s usually talked about in the sense of "this has too many calories."  Maybe they read it on a food label or hear about it somewhere else.

Very simply, a calorie is a measurement of heat. 

Many foods and beverages have calories.  No surprise there. 

And obviously as a society we’re not doing too well in terms of controlling those calories, considering nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese.

It’s hard to make blanket statements since calorie needs differ from person to person.  And the number is dependent on gender, age, size, and exercise.  Since exercise is the one controllable factor among those listed, it’s smart to burn as much as you can through exercise.  Because at the end of the day, your calories have to be in check — what you eat and drink should match how much you burn — then you will maintain weight.

When one is greater (or less than) the other, you’ll gain or lose.  

The problem is that calorie counting can be tedious — is it effective?  It can be.  But it’s better to simply be aware of the calories in foods to help with weight control rather than painstakingly counting every single morsel you put into your mouth (although that’s sometimes smart in the early stages of weight loss to help increase awareness).

Here are some very general rules of thumb.

For weight loss and maintenance, the research suggests eating 1200-1500 calories (of course along with exercise).

For a sedentary adult female looking to maintain, it’s about 1800 calories…

…for a sedentary adult male looking to maintain, it’s about 2,220.

Was that what you thought?

They key then is what makes up those calories …

2 Big Macs and you’re downing about 1000+ calories in 1 sitting.

Or for those same 1000ish calories, you could load up on clean foods — greens, seafood, fruit, some grains, etc and get a ton more bang for your buck, so to speak.

So in our opinion, your weight loss coaches, it’s not just about how MUCH you eat, but WHAT you eat as well. 

That being said, awareness is a good thing too!




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