A newb’s guide to calories, nutrients, and the glycemic index
The equation is pretty simple – a pound of body fat is equal to about 3,500 calories.
So to drop a pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories or decrease your calorie intake by that same amount. That means 500 calories a day if you’re looking to lose a pound a week. 1 to 2 pounds per week is the amount that some experts say is safe to lose without making those pounds more likely to creep back on, like they did for Oprah, the undisputable queen of yo-yo dieting. My sincerest apologies “O” (It’s what her homeboys call her… we koo like dat)
Before getting started on any weight loss journey, it’s important to look at those calories from every angle. A calorie from fat is different from a calorie from protein, and both are different from a carbohydrate calorie. Also, each of those calories has a different impact on how the body performs.
A fat calorie, especially one from a saturated fat source like fast food, is linked to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (called MUFAS, including heart-healthy olive oil, avocados, and nuts) have a wealth of benefits ranging from reduced cholesterol to lower rates of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and obesity.
Carb calories can be found at both ends of the glycemic index spectrum, making some better than others when looking at weight loss and good health. Peep on this now would ya.
A closer look at the glycemic index
Some carbohydrates send blood glucose levels soaring.
Others create smaller fluctuations, resulting in a slow, steady flow of energy that can be used as fuel all day.
Consider a cyclist like Lance Armstrong, who took on the grueling two-week Tour de France and won, a record-setting seven consecutive times. There’s no way he could have powered up those mountains on a diet of burgers and fries. He needed lean protein and good carbs to fuel his ride, rather than heavy foods and other poor choices that would have left him feeling sluggish.
Even if you’re not Lance Armstrong, you still need to use food as fuel to stay energized through the day. By choosing the wrong carbs, calories could be stored as fat in the body instead of used for fuel.
To keep tabs on which carbs are best, look to which ones keep insulin levels steady, like low glycemic fruit such as berries, apples, and oranges that process slowly rather than refined flours. Here is a quick look at some excellent choices
It’s all about choices
To make things easier, First Lady Michelle Obama recently launched the Choose My Plate program, an update to the food pyramid that showcases meals made up of half fruits and vegetables, followed by an equal amount of meats and grains, paired with a serving of dairy. The simplicity of the program makes it easy to follow and opens the door to better choices. With that said it’s a bunch of crap. My apologies first lady.
I don’t want to make this paleo thing a religion but if you are looking for optimal body composition changes, increased performance, and better overall health than the paleo nutrition plan provides you with that opportunity. Watch that video at the top of this post again if you want to know the truth…. unless you can’t handle the truth. Oh, I said it.
Junking the junk and feasting on power
Sure, a Big Mac has a piece of lettuce on it, but that doesn’t make it healthy.
First of all, those lettuce shreds are iceberg lettuce, the lowest in nutrients thanks to its light color. The general rule of thumb, the more colorful the food item, the richer in nutrients. That’s why blueberries, spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes are so rich in essential vitamins and minerals, and such good choices for a healthy diet plan.
Ditching the calories
If you’re looking to drop pounds, start effectively by taking it one step at a time:
Trade one sugar-laced soda for a diet drink or glass of water and save 250 calories.
Skip the candy bar and eat an apple, and you will have saved about 200 calories.
Eating a bowl of vegetable soup before meals will not only boost veggie intake but will also act like a mini gastric bypass, filling space with good food and leaving less room for higher calorie items.
Include low glycemic fruits and vegetables with as many meals as possible, ensuring the intake of essential nutrients.
Limit fats to good fats, and trade out vegetable oil for olive oil, avocado for mayonnaise and a handful of nuts for a bag of potato chips. Unless they’re pringles. Then it’s ok…. I kid, I kid. NO PRINGLES.
Most people find that after a period of time spent focusing on a healthy diet, cravings for high-fat foods like chips and burgers lessen, leading to an easier time making better, healthier choices.
Plan it out. What will you be eating tomorrow. How can you make better choices?