All Calories Are Not Created Equal

Like many diets, calorie counting diets have been popular off and on.  A calorie is a unit of measure that tells us what the energy content of a particular food or drink is.  The question then becomes, how many calories can I consume and still lose weight?  As a general rule, a woman must ingest about 2000 calories a day to maintain her weight.  If she wishes to lose about a pound a week, then she should consume about 1500 calories per day.  A man needs to take in 2500 calories a day to sustain his weight.  If he was interested in losing weight, then limiting his daily caloric intake to 2000 calories would allow him to lose about a pound a week.  This is a rough guideline, as the person’s starting weight and physical activity influence how fast weight will be lost by restricting the caloric intake.

A gram of fat has 9 calories, a gram of protein has 4 calories, a gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories, and a gram of alcohol has 7 calories.  A quick glance at these values tells you that you can eat a gram of protein and a gram of a carbohydrate for a total of 8 calories or you can eat a gram of fat for 9 calories and drink a gram of alcohol for 7 calories giving you an intake of 16 calories.  This is an important principle.  I have said time and again that eating wisely is an important cornerstone of losing and maintaining weight.  You don’t have to starve yourself, but you are not likely to lose weight if you continue to eat poorly.

I won’t give you the high caloric food chart as you can easily find this information on the internet, but I think you understand what I am trying to tell you.

Fats can be divided into saturated and trans fats.  Saturated fats occur naturally in our bodies and are found in foods like avocados, eggs, and red meat.  Trans fats do not occur naturally in our bodies, and are found in foods like crackers, cookies and most snack foods.  Saturated fats increase your good cholesterol (HDL) while the trans fats increase your bad cholesterol, and lower your good cholesterol.  The trans fats can dramatically increase your risk of heart disease by narrowing your coronary arteries.  Trans fats can also lower your insulin production and increase your C reactive protein (a measure of the amount of inflammation in your body).

Therefore, the trans fats not only have more calories than protein and carbohydrates, but they can be deleterious to your health as well.  Ideally,  you should limit your intake of both the saturated and trans fats if you are trying to lose weight.

I am not advocating counting calories to achieve weight loss.  Like I have said previously, the best diet is the diet that you can sustain, preferably, for the rest of your life.  This includes making wise choices and eating the right foods.  Avoid fats, sugary drinks, foods with a high glycemic index, and processed foods.

There are several techniques that you can use to decrease your food intake without feeling like you are depriving yourself.  One way is to eat plenty of vegetables.  This will increase your fiber intake, and make you feel full.  The total calories are minimal so you don’t have to watch how many vegetables you eat.

Drinking plenty of water is another great trick.  This will help you feel full, and water doesn’t have any calories.

Use a smaller plate for your meals than you usually do.  Our mind is programmed to eat all the food on the plate.  If the plate is smaller, the portion size is smaller.

Eat at a dinner table with others instead of in front of the television by yourself.  If you are conversing, you will most likely eat less food than if you are “vegging” in front of the television screen.

Many of us enjoy alcoholic drinks.  Try to limit yourself to no more than two drinks a day, and even less if you can.

As with all diets, make sure that you receive medical clearance from your physician prior to starting a diet or exercise plan.  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if this post helped you with your weight management and maintenance.


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