Corinne Austin | Personal Training

Nutrients, Not Calories

Food. We cannot escape it. In fact, it’s crucial for our survival on this planet. Yet the very thing that helps us to stay alive is ironically behind many of the diseases and illnesses that can, and are, slowly killing us.

Amongst these illnesses is that of obesity – which is so prevalent these days it has almost become the norm. And it is a very sad state of affairs knowing that our once athletic, gracious-moving, muscle-dominant bodies are slowly being buried under layers of dangerous fat and inhibiting us from doing many of those things we should all be physically capable of doing.

I understand that there are all sorts of intertwining biological, chemical, social, emotional, and genetic factors which predispose us to obesity. But i wish to make you ponder one other possible factor (which could, on it’s own, potentially save us) in this escalating epidemic; nutrients versus calories.

We have become so caught up in weight management and weight reduction tactics that we are placing too great of an importance on the calorie-cost of foods, whilst blatantly ignoring the nutrient value. Further, counting calories can also be less than optimal in terms of weight management as it places a negative element on eating food – we can feel deprived by not allowing ourselves to eat something we enjoy, and we can feel like a failure if we give in to temptation.

The reason we must eat food is not only to give our bodies energy (derived from the calorie component of foods). More importantly, we must eat food to nourish ourselves. The human body is a highly complex machine which has millions of different functions. The existence and effectiveness of these functions is highly dependent on our bodies being fed certain levels of vitamins, minerals and macro-nutrients (carbs, protein, fat). Sadly, many of us are now so ensconced in calorie counting strategies to manage our weight that we’ve lost sight of what really matters – the nutrient value of the foods we consume. Nutrients keep us alive!

Convenient, ready-to-eat ‘foods’ are another thing fuelling obesity and other nutrition-related disorders. Ready-made ‘meals’ are so processed and man-made that they can almost no longer be called food. Next time you’re at the supermarket take an interest in the ingredients label on the back of any packaged food – chances are that if you don’t recognize an ingredient, then nor will your body. And if it’s got more than 5 or 6 ingredients in total, then a neon sign that reads ‘health alert’ should automatically flash in your head.

Convenience foods lack the rawness, realness, and natural beauty of foods that are naturally found in nature. Did you know that, for the most part, it takes far more energy to break down raw, real foods in your body than it does for processed, modified foods? This means that your body uses more calories to digest and process raw, natural foods, than it does to digest and process processed and packaged foods.

Upon returning to the nutrients versus calories debate, it may well be that we’d curb our hunger cravings (and, in turn, reduce our weight) if we fed ourselves real food, good food. Our bodies are quite possibly crying hunger because the foods we are feeding them contain foreign ingredients and are lacking in vital nutrients. We are quite simply feeding them empty calories.

So, next time you get hungry, I’d like you to ponder what you are going to eat and why. And remember this one thing, eat to nourish, not just to satisfy. Think nutrients versus calories.

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