This one really drives me crazy. When it comes to considering which foods to eat or not eat, we should consider all foods on the planet in two ways. First – is the food good or bad for your body and secondly – what is the calorie value of the food?

First question – Is the food good for you? The amount of salt, saturated or trans fat, sugar ect. in any food has absolutely nothing to do with adding or reducing body fat. High amounts of these indicate that the food is not good for your system or that it is an unhealthy choice. In other words, consumption of these foods could lead to health problems such as heart disease, hypertension and many other conditions.

Second question –What is the calorie value of any given food?

 This is the only consideration when it comes to adding or reducing body fat.  It is merely a matter of physics, or heat energy. Any human body, no matter what size or age requires a certain amount of calories or energy to be in balance. Let’s call this your ”maintenance calorie level.” If you eat more than this amount, you will store the number of calories over your maintenance calorie level as fat. If you eat less than your calorie maintenance level, your body will use its storage or body fat to get you back up to calorie maintenance level for the day.

 Here’s an example, Say that your ”caloric maintenance” level is 2000 calories/day.  If you eat 2000 cal today, you will not store any extra fat or burn any stored body fat. You will be in balance. If you eat 2100 cal today you will store 100 calories as body fat. When you accumulatte a total of 3500 extra calories you will have added 1 pound of fat. On the other hand, if you eat 1900 cal,today your body will be forced to use 100 calories of existing body fat and when it uses 3500 over time, you will have lost 1 pound of fat.

What is Junk Food?

bucket o' junk food

Let’s first divide junk food into categories or ingredients. The categories will be; bread, sugar and fats.

Bread–Let’s starts out with wheat grains in a field somewhere. If you take a kernel of wheat and remove the fiber, germ, bran and the vitamins and minerals, what you have left is nothing but the carbohydrates or energy. This is done by the process of milling. Milling is done to improve the shelf life of bread. The bran which has oil in it, is removed because it putrefies rather quickly. White bread is called junk food because it is devoid of nutrients that were stripped during processing. But hold on a minute. White bread does have some redeeming characteristics. In the early 1940’s the U.S. government mandated the fortification of all white bread and cereals to include some of the stripped nutrients. These include B vitamins and folic acid.

Sugar–Sugar starts out generally the same way, as a naturally occurring plant. Most of our sugar comes from the cane plant or corn in the form of high fructose corn syrup or sugar beets. Processing sugar starts with pressing the cane or beets to extract the naturally sweet liquid inside, then allowing that liquid to dry into a loose crumble. The crumble is washed and dried to extract impurities and to pull out the molasses, resulting in the white crystalline structure we recognize as sugar. Molasses can be added back in to make light and dark brown sugar, or the sugar can be sold in the pure white form. The impurities from the crystallising process in both cases are a dark syrup called molasses. Processing cane or beets generally does the same thing as processing a stalk of wheat. You take away all the materials that don’t naturally remain intact for long periods of time and what you have left is a white crystalline substance we know as table sugar. This crystalline sugar is called junk food because it, like white bread is devoid of many of its naturally occurring nutrients.

Fats-Fats are different. There are certain fatty acids (contained in food fats) the body cannot make. Therefore, you must get them from food. There are many functions in the human body that require these fatty acids. The fats to watch out for,  “bad fats” are, saturated fats found in meats, butter, cream, or ice cream, and other foods with animal fat and trans fat, (a man-made fat found in some margarines or packaged baked). Good fats come from fish, nuts, seeds and other plants.  Dietary fat is categorized as saturated or unsaturated. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) should be the dominant type of fat in a balanced diet, because they reduce the risk of clogged arteries. Processed foods that are high in fat contain the “bad fats”. The bad fats are used because they are more stable and have a longer shelf life. Foods that contain a large amount of these kinds of fat are generally called junk foods.

Why am I not losing weight?

I am continually amazed by the human body’s intricate and efficient design. When it comes to nutrition the body has the amazing ability to store energy.  This energy is stored as fat and is actually a good thing. Let me explain. If we lived in a primitive society, it would be to our advantage to have some storage energy. You never know when a crop might fail, or there could be a drought or some otherwise extended period of time when food would not be available. Unfortunately, in today’s culture with our diets including fast and engineered foods we seem to be storing a lot  more than we need to last one season of drought or famine.

The body also is designed to protect body fat and use it as a last resort in time. There are two lines of defense; blood sugar and stored sugar in the muscles and liver. In order to get to your stored body fat you must burn through these primary and secondary defenses. This is typically why it takes about 5 to 7 days to begin to lose body fat (low-carb diets notwithstanding-rapid water loss). Once you begin to use your body’s fat stores for energy, you can process or burn about 2 pounds of fat per week. If you try to do it any faster you will lose muscle mass.

Now to answer your question. When you burn body fat the end products of the burning are carbon dioxide and water. Sometimes the  water released will be retained in your system for up to several days. This can cause you to not lose pounds on the scale even though you have less fat. After these several days pass you will typically lose 2 to 3 pounds in one day when the water is finally released. This is the primary reason you can go as long as seven days or so without losing anything and all of a sudden you lose three pounds.

Also, remember that water is the random element that can change your body weight, moment to moment. If you drink 16 ounces of water. You just drank on 1 pound of weight and until you either breathe it out, it is eliminated through waste products or sweated off, it’s inside you.

Here’s the best method for eliminating water as a variable factor. Take your body weight in the morning right after you wake. Go to the bathroom first and be sure to weigh with no clothes on. Pick a day, like Monday, weigh seven days in a row and then divide your total weight for the week by 7. This way you get a weekly average, which will almost always surely drop week to week in a predictable and consistent fashion.

Healthy Foods that are High In Calories

Indeed some foods are what we call fattening or high calorie and yet they are healthy choices. On the other hand some foods are low calorie and are unhealthy choices.

Let’s look at an example. Peanuts are extremely high in calories and yet they are a healthy alternative to an unhealthy snack choice like a cupcake or some high-energy sugar filled bar. A cup peanuts is about 850 cal. You can eat 3 KING SIZE Snickers bars and get about the same amount of calories.

So, what’s the difference. That’s what this blog is all about. In earlier blogs I’ve explained that calories are what matters when it comes to gaining or losing body fat. If the calories per cup of peanuts and to 2 KING SIZE Snickers bars are the same why choose one over the other.

Let’s look at the ingredients in both. The peanuts or high in oils. However these oils are a healthy form of polyunsaturated oils that are actually good for you. The Snickers bar on the other hand is highly processed, has lots of sugar and unhealthy fats. Plus the Snickers bar is missing other nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients included in the peanuts.

Let’s look at another example, raisins. A cup of raisins is also about 250 cal. Yes raisins are high in sugar but it’s a natural fruit sugar from grapes, not processed or refined in any way. If you compare a cup of raisins as a snack to jellybeans or some other candy you get the same kind of comparison. The sugar in a candy is highly refined and processed and totally devoid of any other nutrition like vitamins, minerals and
phytonutrients. The raisins on the other hand have several nutrients embedded that are good for us.

So, when you’re trying to make the proper dietary choices be sure and consider not only the caloric value but also the nutrient density of your food choice.

All Carbohydrates are not the same

Myth number five – all carbohydrates are the same. First let’s list some carbohydrates: table sugar, green beans, white bread, an Apple, honey, brown sugar, pasta, corn, soda crackers, most sweetened kids cereals and oranges. All of these foods either are 100% carbohydrates or mostly carbohydrates. As you will notice some of these foods are healthy and some not so healthy. The difference lies in the fact that some foods are whole foods and some are processed foods, healthy or unhealthy if you will. Whole foods contain all of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrient, and other elements that nature intended. Processing on the other hand involves the removal of many or most of these elements. In addition, processed foods are more calorie dense than whole foods so you tend to consume more calories when you eat processed carbohydrates. So, as you see all carbohydrates indeed are not the same.