A calorie truly is a calorie.
While you may have heard that not all calories are equal, this is simply not true.
It may sound absurd, but calories from Burger King and calories from a home-made salad are the same. Of course, there is a huge difference in the number scale, but to say that eating Burger King will make you fat is simply not true.
Deconstruct a statement and often you will find more than one story behind it. The truth is, eating too many calories consistently over time makes a person fat, unless said person, is one of the rare few who do put on fat easily – despite overeating.
For the clear majority of us, overeating will make us fat – whether the calories are from junk food; or clean food, the body does not discriminate. Therefore, you can indeed get fat from eating apples, but it would be challenging for that to happen since a typical apple is under a measly 100 calories.
The correct statement to this would be to say: eating junk food consistently in abundance will make you fat.
Some foods are inherently bad for your health, but it is a different thing to say that eating a certain group of foods will directly cause one to gain weight.
It is not all about weight gain, because it goes without saying that losing body fat, and even appearing to be muscular, are not always indications of good health.
The most important reason for eating clean, if not most of the time, is down to health reasons.
Beyond the surface level of increased body fat, what you don’t see happening inside the body is the real horror. Junk food, typically has little to no essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Take fries for example, once they were potatoes, packed with nutrients and loaded with fiber from the skins. When they become fries, they are cooked in ultra high-heated unhealthy cooking fat, with all the skin removed, removing the good stuff and making the caloric content sky rocket to a new level.
The many nutrients lost in the process of highly processed foods are usually your micros.
Protein, carbohydrates and fats are referred to as your macros. Perhaps we all know about lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, but If you think micros have little significance beyond basic health – think again. It matters a lot to your fitness level and performance.
Apples are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Studies show that a consistent diet rich in apples and tomatoes can help keep the lungs at optimal health – even minimizing some damage that is caused by hazards such as smoking (1).
Micro nutrients affect everything from muscles, organs, hair, skin, energy – and even mood. Eating the right foods can alleviate anxiety and help to fight depression (2)
A daily diet consisting mostly of simply carbohydrates such as processed grains and sugars, can lead to feeling constantly tired, depressed, and worse of all, this type of diet is at a high risk for certain cancers.
Consider the bigger picture.
One of the main pitfalls of dieting, when done incorrectly, is feeling hungry even after a meal. When energy demand is higher from consistent intense exercise, the body will naturally have a bigger appetite.
If you are used to eating sugary and fatty processed food – your body’s reward system is used to associating this high calorie eating habit with pleasure. It is primal, it is simultaneously a need and a desire.
With the consumption of this type of food, your brain releases dopamine, and years of this habit can accumulate.
We have complicated bodies with an intricate brain that needs to function optimally every day. From an evolutionary survival perspective, our high calorie requirement can be attributed to having relatively bigger brains. Eating calorie rich foods, signals to our brain that it is good and that we should seek more of it.
Overtime, your brain adapts, reinforces and strengthens these neurological connections.
It’s no wonder the amount of overweight and obese people are in such high numbers in many developed countries. The modern food industry makes everything convenient and easier than ever to be tempted into eating processed foods.
Understandably, your cravings are hard-wired from a young age, making it difficult to abstain.
At Athletic Legion, our firm belief is that you should not abstain completely but to control your cravings. It is far more sustainable in the long run, and more enjoyable. Your cravings are hard-wired from a young age, making it extremely difficult to change.
But of course, that is not to discourage those who believe that it’s all or nothing. This path takes an incredible amount of willpower and discipline. I am left in nothing less than awe when I come across these people!
We all have different goals. My goal was to transform my horrific “skinny fat” body into an incredible physique, and based on my experience and many others, it would seem that you can allow yourself to keep an emergency valve, for when the dieting becomes unbearable and the cravings kick in, while not losing track from achieving your goal.
You must adjust your dietary plan accordingly, see the calories section of this article here on Athletic Legion (A).
Dieting does not mean you have to be eating apples and drinking black coffee all day; looking like Christian Bale from The Machinist. It’s an extreme and silly example, but many people seriously dread and fear that they will not be able to enjoy their favorite foods again! A distorted notion of healthy eating is prevalent in the industry, which I believe is causing unintentional harm.
Remember years ago, when all of these big food companies put misleading labels on their products? There was this trending idea that ‘fat-free’ and ‘reduced fat’ led to slimmer waists.
My mum used to buy some of this stuff, and as a kid, I didn’t know any better.
Let’s look a typical example of a fat-reduced a product.
Although not 100% useless in aiding in weight loss, the results are arguably negligible. The lovely Pringles tin shown here gives you a slight reduction calories. That’s all. It is still a poor simple carbohydrate which is heavily processed with no nutritional value.
Making foods like this a staple in your diet is like taking one slice of cheese out of a McDonald’s burger and calling it diet-friendly.
Say a company reduces the fat content in their candy bars by 30%. This does almost nothing for your waist line because it’s packed with stacks of sugar regardless.
A slight reduction in calories simply does not make up for this because we are not talking about a huge caloric difference.
It’s 2018 and we are now much better informed.
There is harmful information everywhere. You’d think you could always rely on the big players – so called responsible companies, not always so.
They only cared about expanding their pockets over reducing waistlines (obviously despite their claims).
You are not to blame if you tried dieting in the past and failed miserably!
It’s time to be informed
Carbs, especially simple starches like white rice/white sugar/processed grains – are the worst culprits. Generally, fats actually help you lose weight. For example, just take a look into the Keto diet (the most difficult yet easily the most powerful tool for rapid fat loss), you are in for a shock. Hint: carb killer.
We prefer to use the term: healthy eating over dieting. When done correctly, you do not feel hungry between meals, in fact; you feel fuller for longer with fewer calories.
Because the calories are not empty and so densely packed with nutrients and fiber. You also tend to eat more of it because you can with lower caloric content per meal.
It is always hard to start something, but once you get ball rolling it gets easier, and even enjoyable. You do not have to become a monk.
Enjoy the foods you enjoy, just exercise control and planning of your meals. Sometimes, people take health for granted perhaps because it is not something you can immediately feel or grasp. You only appreciate not having a sore throat when you’re not able to swallow to food without it feeling like barbed wire.
Substitute junk food for healthy food for most of your meals and I guarantee you will feel great in as little 2-3 days, probably even less. You will realise that you don’t even have to rely on stimulants such as caffeine as much either because good food also brings cognitive and emotional benefits.
Combine this with exercise, and you will be making a significant change to your body. A healthy mind is also a healthy body.
One thing that clearly plays a significant role in the modern-day obesity epidemic is high sugar with zero fiber foods. It also includes processed foods stripped of their fibrous and vitamin-packed outer layers including the skin on potatoes and especially grain – such as the outer layers of rice.
One of the worst foods for your health is soda. You are basically chugging down huge amounts of sugar – and nothing else. Yet gram for gram the calories are high when you compare it to nutritionally dense food such as broccoli (packed with fiber and vitamins).
Soda, is what we call empty calories, they fill you up without filling you up at all. High calories, zero nutritional benefit.
Let’s compare soda with another food that is also commonly perceived as junk food: ice cream.
There is no doubt that ice cream is absolutely packed with sugar, but unlike soda, it at least comes with some protein and the added benefits of diary such as calcium.
A few years back, I drank way more soda than I have should have, and because it tasted so good, I got trapped into a habit of favoring soda over water with meals. Once you develop a taste for it, it is easy to get hooked.
Like a diamond hidden in the dirt, a masterpiece physique that not only looks awesome but feels great, would not be something to admire if it was easily attainable. As with many great and beautiful things in life, none of them would be perceived as valuable to us if we didn’t have to fight for them.
Fight for your body and do not fall for what is only sweet in the mouth because it wrecks unseen havoc. It causes serious and hideous damage over time.
I believe that life is not about abstaining from all pleasures while trying to live well past 100 years of age. I believe in quality over quantity, but quite often, these seemingly small pleasures cause more harm to people who think that it will make them happy.
The damage is simply not worth the short-lived highs of sugars, alcohol and other vices. It’s a costs vs benefits ratio.
The point is, will you let the bad things control you? Wouldn’t you rather be the one in control?
Enjoy in moderation, but never lose discipline and you never lose your spirit, the spirit that gives you a reason to live and fight for what you stand for.
Urges, cravings, and one too many days that you just let yourself go – no more. You are the master of own mind and body.
That’s what it takes to discover the hidden gem within you.
No one knows what your genetic potential is.