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What is a calorie? Do you know?

We all know consuming too many Calories can lead to weight gain. But what exactly is a calorie? This is a question I've asked dozens of health and fitness professionals over the past few years, and very few of them can actually answer it. 

I've always been of the opinion it is important to know WHY you're doing WHAT you're doing- so if you're cutting back on the calories in a bid to lose body fat, it's good to know HOW this works towards weight loss.

Put simply, a Calorie is: The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a kilogram of water by one degree Celsuis.

You will notice Calorie contents of food are listed on nutritional labels as kcal- this is because in a nutritional context, the term Calorie actually refers to the kilogram calorie, or the kilocalorie. So look out for the total kcal content on food packaging.

But what is the significance of this definition? Why does it matter to me?

Put simply, foods are given calorie contents to define their potential to give us energy. If we don't put enough energy into our bodies, we need to source it from somewhere else in order to keep going. Our bodies are clever machines. Unlike a car, which stops moving if it runs out of fuel, our bodies will draw on energy reserves to stay active.

Where do these enrgy reserves come from?

As most of us are aware, following a low-calorie diet can help us to lose weight. This is because if we leave our bodies in a calorie deficit, they often draw upon fat reserves in order to survive. There is a simple equation many dieters use to calculate the amount of weight they can lose, and that is:

1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories

It would follow then, that for every 3,500 calories UNDER our required intake we consume, we will lose one pound of body fat. Unfortunately, it's not that simple!

There are 3 main food groups, or macronutrients that most of us consume on a daily basis. These are:

1) Carbohydrates- containing 4 calories per gram

2) Protein- containing 4 calories per gram

3) Fat- containing 9 calories per gram

Without going into unnecessary detail, our bodies don't simply choose to draw upon fat for energy in times of deficit. In fact, depriving our bodies can even send us into starvation mode, which encourages us to store more fat in case of a rainy day.

So if calorie deprivation isn't the answer to fat loss, then why do calories matter at all?

Sadly, whilst calorie restriction won't automatically lead to fat loss, consuming more calories than our bodies need for energy will almost certainly lead to weight gain. 

Then what's the answer?

If there was a simple equation we could follow in order to get our bodies in perfect shape, we'd all be walking round with Baywatch bodies. However, we can certainly guarantee successful fat loss if we pay attention to the following DanniFIT rules:

1) EAT MORE PROTEIN

Protein is the food group needed to build lean muscle. Muscle uses more calories that fat to survive. Lean muscle bruns fat for energy. And not only that, protein contains a hormone called glucagon that helps with the fat burning process. Our bodies don't store protein as we do carbohydrates and fats, so they either need to convert them into other energy sources (such a glucose) or excrete them in our urine. This requires energy, or calories. What a bonus!

I RECOMMEND CONSUMING AT LEAST 1 GRAM OF PROTEIN FOR EVERY POUND OF BODY WEIGHT PER DAY

2) DON'T CUT CARBS COMPLETELY

Low-carb and no-carb diets have been all the rage in recent years, but contrary to popular belief, they are not the answer to sustained fat loss. Not only are there endless nasty side effects that can accompany carb-free diets, but our brains alone need an estimated 500 calories carbs per day to survive, and their first choice of energy is...carbs! Choose LOW GI carbohydrate foods such as wholegrains, lentils and pulses and dark green fibrous veg. Banish white carbs and processed foods from your cupboards.

3) DITCH THE SUGAR!

The golden key to fat loss is hidden in that evil biscuit tin. Once you find it, hold onto it, because sugary foods will make you fat and stop you losing fat! 

But sugar isn't always that easy to avoid- so print out my SUGAR ALPHABET and stick it on your fridge before letting anything in!

Food manufacturers use all sorts of tricks to disguise sugar in their products. These all mean sugar, but some are not so obvious!

THE SUGAR ALPHABET 

Barley malt 

Cane sugar 

Concentrated fruit juice 

Corn fructose 

Corn sweetener 

Corn syrup 

Demerara sugar 

Dextrin 

Dextrose 

Diatase 

Fructose 

Galactose 

Glucose 

Grape sugar 

Hydrolysed starch 

Maltodextrin 

Maltose 

Manitol 

Malt syrup 

Maple syrup

Polydextrose 

Sorbitol 

Sucrose

WOW WHAT A MOUTHFUL!

If you'd like additional help shifting stubborn fat, just private message me! That's what I'm here for!

Love, Danni xxx

The shocking truth behind misleading food packaging- The 5 fattening foods you thought we slimming!

The Shocking Truth Behind Misleading Food Packaging- The 5 Fattening Foods You Thought Were Slimming!

It’s hard enough turning down the treats, isn’t it? So wouldn’t you just feel heartbroken if you discovered those ‘healthy’ foods you’re tolerating were actually making you fat?!

How?

It’s easy to be enticed by that fat-free packaging gracing the shelves, right? Manufacturers promoting ‘healthy options’ often package them in such a way as to lead us to believe they are probably sugar-free or ‘all natural’. But bearing in mind that ingredients are listed in order of weight, it’s alarming to discover that numerous ‘healthy’ family favourites are full to the brim with sugar and additives.

Surprisingly, foods we think of as dessert options are not always the worst culprits. In fact, it’s often ‘low-fat’ foods we should be wary of! Read on to find out 5 shocking facts you have been unaware of, that could be seriously holding you back from reaching your dieting goals!

‘Fat food’ shocker #1: A Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut contains 10g of sugar, whilst a Yoplait original strawberry yoghurt, which grabs our attention with its ’99% fat free’ label, contains a whopping 26g of sugar! (If I had a pound for every one of you who’d bet on the yoghurt being the lower sugar option, I certainly would never be playing the lottery again!) Unfortunately, refined carbs like doughnuts should have no place in your diet unless you want to look like one. That’s when you reach for the ‘natural’ snacks like dried fruit. But is this a good idea? Alarmingly, no.

‘Fat food’ shocker #2: Dried fruit contains more calories and natural sugars per helping than fresh fruit because the dehydration process removes most of the water. That missing water means there are more pieces of dried fruit in the same serving. For example, 1 grape and 1 raisin both have 7 calories; however 1 cup of grapes has about 60 calories, while a cup of raisins has over 400! Not only that, sometimes sugar is added to dried fruits like cranberries, since they’re so tart. Obviously the extra sugar adds calories without any added nutritional value. You have to be careful with these so-called healthy snacks because you could be ingesting huge amounts of sugar. Furthermore, dried fruit has a higher GI than fresh fruit, and is often preserved using sulphites, which have allergenic properties. So where else are manufacturers hiding sugary surprises? The Food Standards Agency consider any product containing more than 15g of sugar per 100g to be ‘high in sugar’. Here are 3 more shockers to get your metabolic minds ticking.

‘Fat food’ shocker #3: Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bar (apple and cinnamon) What the packaging says: ‘One good decision can lead to another. Nutri-Grain. Eat better all day.’ What the facts tell us: This product contains a colossal 32.4g sugar per 100g! That’s over twice the ‘high sugar’ threshold!

‘Fat food’ shocker #4: Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries What the packaging says: ‘This cereal packs a few healthy vitamins into each and every morning.’ What the facts tell us: With 29g sugar per 100g, it’s not just vitamins you’ll be packing in when you opt for this berry brekkie.

‘Fat food shocker’ #5: Slim-Fast Chocolate Caramel Bar What the packaging says: ‘Look good…feel great. Eat six times a day and still lose weight.’ What the facts tell us: This product contains a mind blowing 48g sugar per 100g! For that, you could gorge on almost FIVE Krispy Kreme donuts!

If you’re left feeling as if you’ve been short-sighted when making food choices, fear not. These foods are all branded in a way which would have even the most diet-savvy among us believe they’re good for our health. In reality, a cereal or bar embellished with images of fields, grass and trees is just as likely to give you a sugar overload as a blatantly naughty sweet treat. Natural sugars can be forgiven to an extent, but the items listed above are far from innocent.

In future, when purchasing packaged products, take head of these words:

GREEN DOES NOT MEAN CLEAN!

It is really easy to fall into the low food trap, when you are not informed about exactly how you should be structuring your diet. What have you found to be deceptive “diet” products, when it comes to your healthy eating attempts? Leave your comments below!