Why Count Calories?
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Why Count Calories?

I remember the days when losing weight meant eating salad with lemon juice instead of dressing,  having a canned peach half on a lettuce leave with a spoonful of cottage cheese, or eating nothing but grapefruit for a period of time.  Jack Lalane had an exercise television show and ladies would stop their house work to work out with Jack.  Some had little discs to stand on that twisted when doing the twist to whittle away the waist. What about those sauna suits? Torture! Die, suit, die!!!  No, I’m not old enough to have dieted like that.  My mom is, though.  It's interesting to think back on this time as a health and fitness professional.  Oh, how far we have come.

One thing that has remained, though is counting calories.  There are apps for that, you know.  Many people know calories count, so they count calories-totally unaware what it all means.  Calories in, calories in.  That adage has a bit of truth to it; however, there are more factors involved when it comes to healthy weight loss. 

There are 4 nutrition categories: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol.  Each one has a caloric value.  Carbs, such as breads, pastas, cereals, potatoes, etc. are 4 calories per gram.  Proteins, such as meats, eggs, beans, and some grains, are also worth 4 calories per gram.  Fats, such as various oils and meat fats, are worth 9 calories per gram.  Here is one thing a lot of people don’t think about: alcohol.  Alcohol has no nutritional value yet packs a whopping 7 calories per gram! So, when you see the calories on the nutrition label of your food, take a look at those items and how many calories for each.  You will probably be surprised how much of a food is comprised of certain nutrients.                

So we count calories.  Most of us don’t  know how many calories we need, but we count them anyway.  The individual caloric intake needs should be calculated for you by a fitness professional rather than a website with very general parameters.  Some factors need to be considered when doing this.  My purpose writing this is to help you understand something that you may not have considered.  If you are consuming the correct number of calories for you, why aren’t you losing weight? 

You might not be considering what each of the nutrients does in your body.  Eliminating fats could cause serious neurological problems.  Eliminating carbs causes serious blood sugar drops and the body will begin consuming muscle—yours—to compensate.  Eliminating proteins can cause your body to not be able to rebuild muscle, hair, and other body tissue.  As a result, our bodies try to protect us from ourselves.There are greater details I could give you, but I would rather help you understand that having a sufficient amount of each will help you burn fat along with exercise.  Oh, did you notice that I forgot to mention alcohol??? There is a reason.  There is NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE IN ALCOHOL. Zero. Zilch. Notta.  Whether a staunch tea-totaller or a moderate social drinker, consuming alcohol is like consuming sugared pop.  It contains 100-200 calories per serving, depending upon what type and does nothing valuable for you. So if you indulge in a beer or a glass of wine now and then, look at the calorie count for that serving and add it in to your daily total.  You would do well to leave it out altogether, if you want to lose weight. Besides, if a Nazarite could handle leaving it alone for his vow, we certainly can as well.               

Essentially, your meals should look like this: 1-2 servings carbs (2 slices of bread=2 servings), 1 serving protein (meat should be no larger than the palm of your hand), and 2 servings vegetables/fruit.  Keep your evening meal limited to 1 serving of carbs because your body will not be burning as many calories while you sleep. You should be hungry when you wake up. The carbs should be whole grain because it takes more work for the body to break down.  Meat should be lean with more of your choices being poultry and fish, but allow yourself 1 serving of beef or pork once a week if you wish. Veggies & fruit should be fresh or frozen, not canned because they retain their fiber and nutrients best. Higher nutrition density yields a satisfied body.  Use oils such as olive, canola, sesame, flax.  Keep in mind with all the coconut oil hype that it is solid at room temperature, so it acts as a saturated fat.  Keep that oil limited. For more info on oils, see The American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org/public/slideshow.aspx?id=6442471506#9. Stay away from pre-prepared foods since they are usually high in sodium & sugars, low in nutritional quality.  The preservatives in these foods tend to cause a low level inflammation in the body.

     If you find yourself hungry midway through your day, try eating a small snack with almonds and whole grain crackers.  Stick to ½ a serving of each.  It will fuel your body through to your next meal.  If you want a bit more, add some dried fruit ½ a serving to it. Make sure your meals consist of 1 serving carbs, 1 serving protein, and load up on steamed or raw veggies. Top it off with dessert- fruit. Your body will get what it needs keeping it out of starvation mode, one of the main reasons dieters struggle to lose the last 10-20 pounds.  Drink plenty of water.  Nothing re-hydrates the body like water.  I know, it wasn’t listed in the nutrients with calories.  That’s because it has no calories!       
Enjoy your food and lose weight! Not feeling hungry nor stuffed, you will be much happier as you shed those last few pounds! Blessings!  

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