Calorie This, Calorie That…blah blah blah

If you’ve been following the Gain Great Health blog in sequence (as recommended), you will note that I have yet to mention any precise figures of what and how much you should be eating.  Some hold the false misconception that eating a healthy diet means scrutinizing each and every calorie, gram of fat, and carbohydrate that you put into your body.  This is certainly NOT the case.  Instead, focus on the quality of the foods you’re eating (along with cooking these foods in a tasty way) and you’ll be well on your way to eating a healthful diet.  

For some, it’s motivating to count calories and how much you’re burning in exercise, etc., serving as a tangible day-to-day goal of achievement.  If this is motivating for you, great, but don’t set unrealistic, 1200-calorie goals and put yourself down if you don’t meet them.  Meanwhile, others may feel overwhelmed with the whole idea of counting every morsel that they consume.  This sentiment is likewise understandable.  The bottom line is to certainly do what works for you, but if you find you’ve “yo-yo’ed” back and forth from calorie-counting to carb-counting to no avail, perhaps you should shift your perception away from how much you’re eating to what you’re eating.  

Conventional wisdom holds that 3500 calories equals 1 pound of fat.  The term calorie is so loosely thrown around that it’s assumed to be common knowledge, but what exactly is a calorie to begin with?  What we see on nutrition labels is technically the kilocalories within the foods we eat and is described as the energy contained within these foods.  Precisely however, one kilocalorie equals the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 L of water by 1°C or the amount of heat released if the food is completely burned.  Heat therefore can be thought of as energy.  We need calories and energy for our survival, and it’s the quality and quantity of these calories that play a role in determining our health and well-being.

I always love the analogy comparing the well-designed machines, known as you and I, to automobiles (in fact, we are all luxury cars!).  If presented with the unrestricted choice as to what type of fuel to put into our gas tanks, only a fool would choose regular gas over premium. Luxury cars may function with either grades of gas, but optimal performance and mileage is seen using the premium fuel.  The typical driver may or may not feel the difference between the two grades of gas, but the difference exists nevertheless.    Nature provided us with that which is analogous to premium gas.  The quality (along with quantity) of the fuel that we put into our bodies is key, and it’s up to us to decide what kind of fuel we fill our tanks with.

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