Are All Calories Created Equal?

Are All Calories Created Equal?

Question:

Hello, I am a 45-year-old male. I’m in good shape but I’m wanting to drop body fat. I’m at about 19% and would like to get down to 15%. I was wondering in regard to my daily calorie limit, is it more important to watch the types of foods I eat or is it more important to stay under a certain number of calories?

– Adam

Answer:

Well, since you are already in good shape with an ideal body fat percentage for your age, I’d say to you have to focus on both food choices and calorie limit to obtain further fat loss.

You can’t eat 1,500 calories of junk and expect to get definition! Limiting calories by itself will help lose weight, but you need to retain lean mass to get that body fat % down. Selecting healthier foods alone can keep you lean but you’d have to be super in tune with your satiety to create a calorie deficit on purpose.

Just for illustration: If your estimated energy needs for weight loss were 2,000 calories, then comprising that from 40% carbohydrate (mostly complex), 30% protein (up to 0.8 gm/lb. body weight) and 30% healthy fats would help achieve your goal.

  • Breakfast:3 eggs, 1 Cup nonfat Greek yogurt, Large banana, Slice whole grain bread, 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • Lunch:5 ounces chicken breast, Medium sweet potato, 1 Cup green beans, 2 teaspoons margarine
  • Snack:Large bowl chili [made with 3 ounces ground turkey, 1 Cup pinto beans, ½ Cup diced tomato, 1 small onion, 1 bell pepper, any spices] topped with 1-ounce cheese
  • Dinner:5 ounces salmon, Medium ear corn, 2 Cups broccoli

Analysis on www.FitDay.com by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist = 2060 calories, 41% carb, 26% prot, 33% fat

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Gearing Up for The Holidays (9 Tips to Help Stay in Shape This Season)

Gearing Up for The Holidays (9 Tips to Help Stay in Shape This Season)

The last two months of the year tend to be full of holiday parties, family gatherings, cozy evenings indoors and an abundance of tasty treats. All this can greatly derail the health strides we’ve made throughout the year. While we all know how challenging it is to maintain our healthy habits during the holiday season, with a little determination, planning, and commitment, we can survive the holidays and start the New Year off right.

How to Stay on Track

Select your beverages wisely: Between the bubbly, the eggnog, the gingerbread lattes and the peppermint flavored mochas, a person can easily consume up to a third of their recommended caloric intake with just one drink! Instead, opt for fruit-infused sparkling water, cinnamon or fresh peppermint tea, a wine seltzer (half wine, half seltzer water, half the calories), and if you really want to satisfy the craving, a smaller and lighter version of your favorite holiday drink!

Practice portion control and be selective! You don’t have to stay away from all holiday foods! Treat yourself to one serving of your favorite dish and pair with fresh or steamed fruits and vegetables.

If you’re attending a party or a potluck, take a healthy dish. This guarantees that you’ll have access to at least one nutritious option.

Beware of those lunch room snacks! Yes…those cookies, cakes, and breads that magically appear by the coffee pot. Partake in the conversation with your colleagues and bring along your own healthy snack.

Satisfy a craving with a bite-size treat. You don’t need a full serving. Plus, if you don’t love it, don’t eat it.

Tips to Stay in Shape Over the Holidays

Lack of exercise and unhealthy eating lead to weight gain. They also increase our risk of disease and make it more difficult to manage chronic illness.

  1. Get your annual flu vaccine. Holiday stress, lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits – all these can weaken our immune system and increase our risk of illness. When we receive our annual flu shot, we greatly lower our risk of catching the flu, developing flu-related complications and having to take time off due to illness.
  2. Partner-up or even better, group-up! When you make a commitment with another person, you’re more likely to honor it. After all, no one likes a flake! A fitness partner can help motivate you, challenge you, pace you, and best of all, make it fun!
  3. Start your day with a morning work-out! Exercise is not only crucial for weight control, but it can also help us cope with holiday stress. One of the benefits of the recent time change is the fact that it gets lighter earlier. Become a morning person! Not only will you feel more energetic and accomplished throughout the day, but it also frees up your evening.
  4. On those rainy days, try an indoor workout! Yoga, Tai Chi, a 30-minute dance session, a stairs workout, heck, even musical chairs with the kids! Try anything that gets you moving!
  5. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. People who eat breakfast end up eating fewer calories throughout the day. Make sure you include a complex carb like oatmeal, whole grain bread or quinoa. Add some berries to your morning oatmeal for a delicious meal.
  6. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals leads to hunger-eating which results in overeating. Consume healthy snacks throughout the day. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and non-fat yogurt are all great choices.
  7. Keep your body well hydrated. Regardless of the temperature outside, our body needs enough fluid to function properly. Our body can confuse thirst for hunger, and this can result in overeating.
  8. Take it easy! Holiday stress can make you feel overwhelmed. Only take on what you can handle. Ask for help and realize that it’s ok to say no.
  9. Make it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep. When we’re lacking sleep, our appetite is one of the first things to become skewed, thus resulting in weight gain. That’s because you’re more likely to consume extra calories from high fat and high sugar foods to cover the energy cost of staying awake. Lack of sleep impacts our hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin) hormones. It also causes a spike in our cortisol levels, signaling our body to conserve energy to fuel our waking hours.

Content contributed by Dr. Sean Hashmi, an Obesity Medicine Specialist and the Adult Weight Management Lead for Kaiser Permanente Southern California.


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Are Bananas Acceptable for Weight Loss?  

Are Bananas Acceptable for Weight Loss?  

Question:

I heard that to lose weight bananas are not recommended. My go-to food to replenish energy, vitamins, and minerals is a banana and water after my work-out. Do you have any other recommendations?

– Josh A.

Answer:

The notion that bananas are not good for weight loss probably stems from their slightly higher energy density and sugar content. However, that is only in context compared to other fruits! If you choose a banana over a granola bar, you might be saving on sugar and getting more micronutrients to boot.

One way to ‘balance’ the natural fruit sugars is to consume some nuts or protein with the banana. Perhaps add 20 almonds or an ounce of string cheese to the banana for your recovery snack. The net effect is a blunted rise in blood sugar over time versus a quicker spike. This would dampen the stimulus for fat storage, though your calories would go up because of the addition.  If you are still put off by a banana, then consider swapping it for 2 plums or an orange for slightly less sugar and energy.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Fitness and Food: How to Navigate the Holiday Season – Podcast Ep. 14

Fitness and Food: How to Navigate the Holiday Season – Podcast Ep. 14

Welcome to the 14th episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness!

On this episode of Living Healthy, we speak with LA Fitness registered dietitian, Debbie James, and LA Fitness Master Trainer, Heather Esdon, on ways to stay healthy and fit this holiday season (despite busy schedules and delicious foods!)

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.


Timecard Markers – Fitness and Food: How to Navigate the Holiday Season – Podcast Ep. 14 

Intro   

Begins at 0:01   

Dietitian Debbie James, Joins the Show 

Begins at 1:22  

Thanksgiving Fun Fact #1 

1:29  

How Can Overeating be Avoided? 

3:10 

The Holiday Mentality  

4:30 

Trot Off the Turkey Challenge 

5:44 

Setting a Nutrition Goal Around the Holidays 

6:10 

Healthier Versions of Thanksgiving Foods 

7:16  

Challenging the Norm – The Minimalist Thanksgiving 

8:20  

Holiday Parities – How to Approach Them 

12:08 

Is Hot Cocoa Bad for You?? 

13:33 

The Holiday Themed Lightening Question Round with Debbie James 

14:38

Actionable Advice  

16:12 

LA Fitness, Master Trainer, Heather Edson Joins the Show 

17:17 

Holiday Fun Fact #2 

17:49 

Fitness Strategy Heading into the Holidays 

19:14 

Is it Better to Work Out Pre or Post the Holiday Meal? 

20:20 

What’s a Good Calorie Burn to Aim For? 

21:40 

What Are Some Exercises People Can Do at Home? 

22:21 

What Are Some Quick Exercises People Can Do in the Gym? 

23:34 

Are There Certain Exercises That Are Best for HIIT Training? 

24:20 

The Holiday Themed Lightening Question Round with Heather Edson 

26:21 

Actionable Advice Part 2 

27:40 

Outro 

28:18


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 Does Cinnamon Help Lower Blood Sugar?

 Does Cinnamon Help Lower Blood Sugar?

Question:

I am interested in lowering my blood sugar. Does taking cinnamon help?

– Marc W.

Answer:

Just taking a supplement of an herb or spice is not a recommended treatment for lowering blood sugar.

In 2013, the American Diabetes Association indicated a lack of evidence to support the use of cinnamon for the treatment of diabetes.1 An article in Medical News Today noted that research is mixed yet suggests “cinnamon may help fight some symptoms of diabetes.2” The Diabetes Council indicates that the evidence to support the use of cinnamon to lower blood sugar levels is currently not strong.3

Overall, cinnamon may be a useful adjunct therapy tool for some people but is not a replacement for traditional diabetes treatments. Consult with your healthcare provider before trying any unprescribed diabetes remedies.

Sources:

  1. “American Diabetes Association Releases New Nutritional Guidelines” 9, 2013.   http://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2013/american-diabetes-association-releases-nutritional-guidelines.html Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
  2. Zawn Villines “Cinnamon, Blood Sugar and Diabetes” Medical News Today, April 28, 2017. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317207.php Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
  3. The Diabetes Council Team “Fact from Fiction: Is Cinnamon Good for Diabetes?” Oct. 13, 2018. https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/fact-from-fiction-is-cinnamon-good-for-diabetes/ Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Recommended Reading - Q+A

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