Count Your Blessings, Not Calories!

picCrunching numbers instead of doing actual crunches, measuring every food up to the exact serving size, rounding up numbers, and reading more nutrition labels than you do books. All of these concepts contribute to what some consider the “catalyst to weight loss” that is, calorie counting. This topic is one that is really important to me and has taught me a huge lesson in regards to nutrition and I’m excited to give my two cents on the matter. At the same time, I can’t help but cringe a little bit while I gather info on extreme calorie counting because I made a lot of mistakes while I calorie counted to lose weight. Without further or do, I learned a lot from my personal experience so I wanted to share it with you all!

What happened after I calorie counted

I lost forty pounds. Let me be clear, that statement was not my successful weight loss testimony. For many reasons, one being that I should have lost only half of what I did.  I eventually began to lose muscle, go below the average BMI for my age group, and overall became obsessed with keeping track of what I ate each day. All of this resulting in needing to gain some weight back anyways!

Why calorie counting can be dangerous 

It all comes down to quality vs. quantity. Both quality and quantity should be put into consideration when constructing a healthy diet. However, quality is the half of the deal we sometimes ignore especially when calorie counting. For instance sure my granola bar, almonds, and Nutella sandwich (I’m cringing) fit in my daily calorie quota but a lot my food choices certainly weren’t the right calories. As Dr. Frank Lipman an internationally recognized expert in the field of integrative medicine states, “All calories are not created equal. Thinking that all calories are the same is an antiquated notion. Granted by definition calories represent units of energy provided by a particular food, but thinking they’re all alike is like saying a diamond and a rhinestone are the same because they both glitter. With Calories, as with diamonds, it’s the quality that matters most and enhances their value.”

Your body resorts to burning lean muscle tissue as a source of energy ideally when losing weight we would want our body to burn body fat not muscle. But when you put your body in crucial conditions, it will resort to any source of energy. Therefore it will pull from stored energy anywhere, this can be fat, muscle, or a combination of them both.

Nutrition deficiency Sure you can lose weight by eating packaged food that is labeled with your necessary calorie count. But if your diet is only composed of what has almost zero nutrients the processed food will create a chemical reaction in your body that will work against weight loss and good health. Following that, eating too much sugar results in an overproduction of insulin which promotes weight gain.

Can it be done right? Will it hurt you to be aware of how many calories are in your meal? Certainly not! Knowing the calorie amount can sometimes be utilized as a rough estimate or criteria for our daily food intake. However, the fault in calorie counting is the obsession and taking it to the extreme. Keeping a journal of your calories, or keeping a record of it in your phone will make you eventually addicted. In my case, it almost became a sort of game and every day was a chance to beat my record of how little calories I consumed that day.

Although I am not proud of my diet mistake, I’ve learned so much. Now I eat a lot of the right foods, and know better than to get sucked into the obsession of extreme calorie counting. Do not avoid foods like fruits, veggies and other produce that do not have a nutrition label on it, and when there is a nutrition label, read more than just the calorie amount! The best part of the alternative to calorie counting is that you can eat way more! As long as you are eating wholesome, natural foods, you can eat more and frequently throughout the day to keep your metabolism going. Eat right, not less and you’ll be on your way to a content, happy, and healthy life!

“It’s a good day to have a good day!”

-Alena Purpero ♡

Nuts: Let’s Crack the Truth

57422040 Mixed nuts

I am a believer in reading nutrition labels with everything that I eat. I want to know what I am eating, how many calories, and all of the information I can get.  I won’t lie, when it comes to nuts, I try to stay clear. Not only are they high in fat, but you only get a small handful for around 200 calories. Think of the things you could eat for 200 calories that are much larger in size?

My parents have always tried making me eat almonds as a snack, and I asked them “Are you nuts? Have you seen how high in fat they are?” They laughed at me, and I wondered why? Watching my friends consume all different types of nuts every day really made me wonder, what are the benefits of such a small snack? So I did my research and found this:

AlmondsThey are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fibers that are needed for a healthy diet. Just one serving of almonds equals 1/8 of the amount of protein you need each day. Almonds do contain a high level of unsaturated fat, but as you would have read in previous blogs, unsaturated fat is HEALTHY (in moderation of course)! Also, eating a handful of almonds a day is a great way to get the vitamin E your body needs to stay healthy. That was enough proof for me to believe that they were good for me. I also found that snacking on almonds kept me more full than other snacks I choose. Looking for more reasons why almonds are HEALTHY and AMAZING? Check out What are the health benefits of almonds?.

PistachiosMy favorite part is cracking them! I only go for the salted ones, but I can handle a little extra salt in my diet because I have low blood pressure (Blood Pressure). Jessica Bruso, holder of a science degree in food policy and applied nutrition, states “Pistachios contain fewer calories and more potassium and vitamin K per serving than other nuts.” (Health Benefits of Pistachios) She also researched and found “A 1-ounce serving of dry-roasted pistachios contains 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 15 grams of fat, including only 2 grams of saturated fat.” The biggest thing with pistachios is limiting your portions. In reality, that is with all foods! Pistachios are my personal favorite so over-eating them does happen. One trick I like to do is measure out a serving and put them in separate bags. That way, when I want a snack, I can finish the whole bag and know that it was one serving.

PecansThey are enriched with many health benefiting nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are essential every day. Pecans are also great source of energy. According to Power In Your Diet, Pecans “are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of phenolic antioxidants. Regular addition of pecan nuts in the diet helps to decrease total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood.” Does this mean you should load up on the pecan pie? Probably not, but adding a hand full of pecan nuts every day in your diet will help keep sufficient levels of minerals, vitamins, and protein. Be smart, and snack on!

WalnutsIf you can handle cracking the shell open, then do it! Walnuts are not only delicious, but the soft, easy-to-chew texture makes it one of the world’s favorite nuts. They are very rich in Vitamin E and also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer. (Walnut Benefits) Walnuts are also very high in fat. In 1 cup there is about 52 grams of fat but only 4.2 grams of that is saturated fat. (The Walnut) That is still a lot of fat, but remember, everything is good in moderation.

PeanutsThe most common nut out there due to the cheap price. Peanuts are more readily-available and cheaper to grow which is why they are so cheap. According to Nutrition and You, “Peanuts are an excellent source of resveratrol, another polyphenolic antioxidant. Resveratrol has been found to have protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and viral/fungal infections.” (Facts of Peanuts) One thing that makes a peanut odd is that it is referred to as a legume, not a nut. (Peanut) They also contain more saturated fat so be careful when consuming and make sure you only eat one serving.

Nuts taste great and can also be great for you. When you see high calorie food labels with such small portions, don’t avoid them. Check out the nutrition facts and ingredients and usually you will be able to detect why. I can honestly say that now, Almonds are my absolute favorite snack!

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”

~Kenzi Weidman