Man and women at wedding. Man overweight in tight suit

The truth about calories

Overcoming obesity through fitness and a quality diet

I thought I’d write this post having watched a programme on the BBC iplayer that highlighted the truth about calories.  You may be thinking, I have heard it all before but this programme was different. It was storytelling at its very best.

It kept it simple, was wonderfully entertaining especially with it setting some potatoes on fire. It left you thinking, much of what we eat and the amount we eat is down to pure psychology. Mindset management.

My post will sum up what the documentary highlighted. The disappointment about BBC iplayer is their content is not posted for long, otherwise I would direct you to the link.

I wanted to write about calories, as they are so important to understand for a number of reasons. The truth is if we really knew what a calorie was and the effect they have on our body, obesity would not exist. As a qualified gym personal trainer this is my professional opinion.

Better education on the harmful effects of over indulgence, getting our portion sizes correct and knowing what is good for you, are really the first things we need to get right.

What is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy. A measure of energy to be precise. This energy enables us to go about our daily duties and ultimately live. In short we cannot live without calories. Water is a calorie too!

Calories have taken over many of my clients’ lives including my own. Eating too many of them and eating the wrong types are the most common calorie habits. There are three main calorie sources where we get our energy from. They are Carbohydrate, Fat and Protein. Vitamins, minerals, fibre and water make up the seven key nutrients.

Measuring your calories

It is important to know how many calories there are in the food we eat. The 4/4/9 system illustrates why we need to be aware of what we are eating and how many calories there are in the food we eat.

•    4 calories in every gram of carbohydrate
•    4 calories in every gram of protein
•    9 calories in every gram of fat

We must not forget there are 7 calories in every millilitre of alcohol we consume too!

So if you eat a meal with 150 grams of carbohydrate, that is 600 calories you’ve consumed. Always read the label and check out the number of calories you are about to eat.

Burning your calories

Everywhere we go these days we read information about how to burn fat, being reminded about what we eat and generally looking after our health. Burning calories will help us to maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure we burn off those calories and attempt to maintain a good weight and establish a certain level of fitness.

Good ways to burn off fat may surprise you.

•    Going to the gym
•    A brisk walk around the park
•    Doing the house work
•    Sitting around watching TV or gaming
•    Standing and moving around for a few hours each day

Going to the gym is a great way to burn off calories. The longer and faster the workout intensity, the more calories you will burn. Doing the housework requires a lot of energy too especially if you clean the whole house. Who would think hoovering, cleaning and polishing had healthy benefits?

I’d rather be on my bike clocking up the miles, however, sitting around and watching TV will burn calories too, just not as many as a gym or outdoor workout. We burn calories every second of the day. 2/3 of all our calories are burnt off by doing nothing! Who would have thought that?

A good indication of burning calories is if you are out of breath and the harder it felt during the workout, the more calories you would have burned.

For our body to operate (our body tissues require energy), we burn anything between 60-90 calories an hour depending on the size of our body. The smaller we are the less calories we burn. To fully appreciate the amount of energy there is in our food, set it on fire (don’t try this – it is more for illustration purposes. Maybe Google it). The longer it burns for, the more energy it contains. Why not try it with a McDonalds large meal to see how long 2,000 calories burns for.

The obesity epidemic

For every additional 100 calories we eat, we will put on 5kg within 12 months. This equates to one stone. Think more about that biscuit next time as the calories all add up. The challenge for us is eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures even when we are not hungry. Our minds have simply been affected by what we put in to our mouths.

The food industry has a lot to answer for. They label our food in such a way, we seem to eat more. We need to strike back and not let the food industry tinker with our brains any longer. We need to find a way to interrupt these sensations.

Eating for success

1.    Eat lots of soup. The more water in the soup, the fuller we become

2.    Eat rare meat. The rarer the meat, the harder it is to break down. This will help to use more energy and burn calories

3.    Eat plenty of fibre and eggs as they are low in calories

4.    Eat loads of vegetables. At least 2/3 of your plate should consist of vegetables

5.    Cut out refined carbohydrate (pasta, white rice) in the evening completely and replace with vegetables (contains non starchy carbohydrate and are full of vital vitamins and minerals)