Monday, April 27, 2015

Where are YOUR calories coming from?

Hey Fit Fam ...

As many of you are staring your fitness journey you may be relying on "calorie or macro counting" to guide you. This is often called #FlexibleDieting or #IIFYM (If it fits your macros.) This is great! I currently use My Fitness Pal while doing my own nutrition in my off season! How many calories you consume is certainly key in a losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle, but I personally believe that simply counting how many calories, carbs, sugars, proteins and fats you take in everyday ... isn't good enough. I know many will disagree but I just don't feel like ALL calories are created equal.  Or at least all calories don't react the same in my body .. I know that for sure and that seems to be the case for most people that I know. So while a calorie may be a calorie .. that doesn't mean your body will treat them all the same .. make sense?

Could you lose weight from simply lowering and tracking your calories/macros?? I am sure!! But I really feel that you should consider WHERE your calories are coming from! For example ... a calorie from a baked sweet potato fry made in your oven is NOT the same as the calories from a white fried french fries from a fast food joint .. or yes .. even one you bake at home out of a frozen bag in the produce section!

SOME people that follow wellness plans or diets like "Weight Watchers", "If It Fits Your Macros" and "Flexible Dieting" have made it appear that it's okay to eat pizza, cake, donuts, chips and/or fast food all day every day -- and still "lose weight".  Well ... the reality of that is that the people that are successful with these methods of "wellness" don't actually eat large quantities of that crap all the time. Sure they may enjoy it in small portions (maybe even everyday) if it's something they are craving, but I guarantee it doesn't fill their food journal on a daily basis! Also, many people that follow "Flexible Dieting" or "If it fits your macros" don't have full on CHEAT meals. They still track their cheats MOST the time. Which can be a great option for people that have a hard time with cheating (i.e. .. turning their cheat meal into a huge non stop/can't stop binge meal.)

Flexible dieting and IIFYM are great methods ... but only if most your calories/carbs/fats/proteins are coming from NUTRIENT dense foods. Sure .. you could have some processed freezer sandwich for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch, a piece of cake for a snack and a "healthy dinner" and most people could "fit it in" to their daily allowance .. but you aren't going to maximize your goals this way.  You also will probably get such small amounts that you will be super hungry. Oh and FIBER .. you have to have a FIBER goal (i try to stay between 20-25) and you won't reach that off fast food alone. If you are calorie counting and decreasing your calorie intake, no matter how you go about it you are going to likely lose some weight. But so what!! You aren't maximizing your potential and you certainly aren't fueling yourself properly to build a BODY FOR LIFE.  If you are putting in the effort .. why not make it REALLY count ... and last!

Many of you may be asking why does it matter what I eat. Well aside from the obvious (nutrients) .. there are many!!! First of all .. chances are there is no way you will be getting in meals every few hours (which you all know I swear by .. at least every 4 hours is my goal right now) since it takes so little "crap" to equal say 2,000 calories a day (this is a generic number obviously)... compared to if you are eating nutrient dense foods. GOOD foods mean that you get to eat more AND you stay fuller .. longer! Which means you wan't be as tempted to "snack" or fall off cause you won't be hungry!

Second .. not all foods are metabolized the same way! You could actually burn more calories a day simply by choosing better foods!!! For example .. protein requires more energy to metabolize than carbs or fats (I'm not saying you should be low carb or low fat .. I'm saying protein is VITAL in your diet). Studies show that high protein diets will boost your metabolism by 80 to 100 compared to a low protein diet. What I'm telling you is that some foods require more energy to digest .. so you can actually born more calorie based on WHAT you are eating!! This goes for more than just protein! Look at THIS STUDY .. they found that those that ate a sandwich made with whole grains and real cheddar cheese burned TWICE as many calories digesting their meal than those that had a sandwich made of refined grains and processed cheese!! Again .. all calories are not equal. In some cases, even enjoying the real stuff in smaller quantities may cause you to lose more weight than if you ate the stuff labeled "fat free" :)

Third .. you may want to consider a foods GI (glycemic index)-- it does seem to matter!! There is endless research that proves people that eat a higher GI diet have a greater chance of being obese and having diabetes. This goes back to what I was saying earlier. If you choose to use your daily carb allowance for a small sugary bowl of cereal or bakery muffin you are going to get a quick spike in blood sugar....and crash. Whereas, if you have a balanced breakfast with some oats (maybe make your own muffin using my basic batter base) then you are going to have a steady release of blood sugar allowing you to feel fuller longer. And again .. the QUALITY of those calories are better. But if you are craving a sugary cereal .. have it if it can fit in your day. Just measure it out and don't go overboard and try to have it either pre or post workout instead of for breakfast or before bed :) At least but that sugar to good use!

Not to mention, if you fill your allotted carbs with these kinds of crap foods .. there is NO WAY you will get in your fiber intake for the day (as mentioned briefly above.)  So your carbs that you allow yourself for the day will be GONE in sometimes ONE meal .. but you will have 20 grams of fiber left to get in for the day ... and well .. you won't be able to (and while it will help...taking a supplement isn't the same and should be reserved for those random days you splurged more than others.)  It is vital that you pick whole, unprocessed carb sources with fiber!!! That goes back to the GI thing. The fiber reducecs the rate at which glucose enters your system .. which is what we want! That is why I always suggest things like red or sweet potatoes, quinoa, oats and rice for your carbs. Rice is a tricky one. I'll save that for another post. Most people are safe sticking to brown .. but white rice isn't a total no-no :)

I could go on and on about this and I'm guilty for grabbing some of these foods. For example .. you will never see me use real maple syrup. I could never consume that much sugar and be okay with it .. so I'll stick with Walden Farms (yea, yea, yea ... I know .. it's not as good as pure maple .. but turn that label over .. i can't justify that kinda sugar intake). I'll never use full fat/sugar coffee creamers. I'll always choose a low carb/low sugar yogurt over the full fat ones. But I limit those to very few choices and am aware of these more refined foods.  The bottom line is that your FOODS should come from good whole NUTRITIONS sources MOST of the time ... since different foods have a major effect on our hormones and brain -- which control hunger and eating behavior ... and as research has shown .. can actually make you lose MORE weight because of the way your body metabolizes it!

There is no right or wrong way! Flexible dieting can be a GREAT thing and it's essentially what I've done in the off season (however I still only eat healthy food in the week and do my cheat on the weekend because I don't want to have to think about Macros at least one meal a week, lol)

Eat Clean. Train Dirty.

I have hired a new coach for my contest prep (which I am in the middle of right now.) His name is Layne Norton and he is an expert in all this IIFYM stuff. Gone are my weekly "Cheats" where I don't count and eat whatever I want. I am currently counting EVERYTHING. Even my beloved cheat meals. Is it easy?? HECK NO!!! I miss not thinking ONE meal a week.  But hoping it's going to be worth it!!! Off season I'm hoping I get to go back to a little less structure for cheats. But for now I"m begin super strict about it and only eating at places that can offer me "macros" on what I am eating. No guessing! Don't worry ... I still get my "bad foods" and can even eat them TWICE a week. Just in smaller and more planned out portions! You all should google him. He is AMAZING and knows his stuff. Much more than I do! I can't wait to learn from him!!


  1. Danielle HopkinsJune 11, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    Thanks for addressing the flexible diet questions I had. I'm currently reading everything I can about Macros and the flex diet craze comes up a lot in my reading. I agree "You are what you eat!"

    So, one question that came up for me. Of course my time to prep meals is limited. I work 40 hours M-F, in the car M-F 10 hours a week. If I do eat veggies they are out of a bag. I usually buy organic also. Do you see any reason why I should do something different than that? Any suggestions are appreciated!

  2. Danielle HopkinsJune 11, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    Oh! I almost forgot! Congrats on the new coach! You can do this. You have already proven that! Love you!