Millions of people across the country go grocery shopping, pick up some food, search around the box and a-ha! the nutrition facts. They see how many calories are in the food, maybe see how much, fat, protein, or sugar (carbohydrates) is in the food and then decide whether or not they should buy it. They decide this because they are trying eat a certain amount of calories to meet certain weight goals, losing weight, gaining weight, or maintaining weight. However, most people have no idea how the calories are calculated or how many calories each macro-nutritent (macro); protein, fat, and carbs contain. Well you are in luck because I am going to tell you how the calories of each food are determined and how many calories are in each macro. I am also going to tell you how this approach to eating is the wrong way for most of you!
There is a whole bunch of science involved in determining what exactly a calorie is, I won’t bore you with this, but essentially a calorie is the energy the body uses for activity or stores for later use. The body uses the calories for all physiological activity in the body from your heart beat and breathing to each step you take. When you eat more calories than you use your body stores this extra energy as fat.
In order to determine the amount of calories in food, they blow it up, how awesome is that!?! Well there is a little more to it, bomb calorimetry is the process which determines the amount of calories in food. An item is placed in a bomb calorimeter and is electrocuted. The heat that is produced by the food travels into copper piping that heats water, the temperature increase in the water is recorded and boom, there is your calorie count for food. Now this is a very simplified version of how calories are determined but you get the gist of it. Calories are the amount of heat each food produces. Through this process, the calorie count of the macros was determined:
• Carbohydrate-4 calories
• Protein-4 Calories
• Fat-9 calories
• Alchohol-7 calories
However, knowing how many calories are estimated in foods and knowing how many calories there are per gram of macro, and then counting total calories consumed is not the best approach for eating and controlling portions, let me explain.
Calorie counting is a very inexact science. Due to the fact that every person’s body chemistry is different, we all process the food we eat differently. There is a large amount of play in the amount of calories that your body actually processes into useable energy after eating. In fact there can be over a 25% difference, plus or minus, in useable energy than what is in said in the nutrition facts on the box. Lets take 2000 calories for example, 25% of 2000 is 500. If your goal is to lose weight and your diet has you eating 2000 calories and you are consuming 25% more than calculated, in just a week you have eaten 3500 extra calories, the amount in one lbs of fat!
Not only is counting calories inexact but it is very very tedious. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FORTHAT! There are millions of people who don’t care about their diet because they think it is way too complicated to count calories, and I agree with them. Counting calories may be necessary with elite level athletes.
There is a better way to control calories in order to reach your ideal weight, and all you need is your own two hands. Precision Nutrition, the top sport and fitness nutrition education system, has come up with a fantastic system that works great and has been proven through 10,000s of individuals. Instead of using tools and measuring devices, this is how you can count on your hands for making better portion choices.
• Meat/Protein dense food= 2 palms
• Vegetable= 2 fist
• Carbs/grains= 1-2 cupped hands (depending on weight loss or maintenance)
• Healthy Fats= 2 thumbs
• Meat/protein dense food= 1 palm
• Vegetable =1 fist
• Carbs/grains= 1 cupped hand
• Healthy Fats= 1 thumb
It is that easy! The great thing is that it’s automatically personalized, because your hand size is specific to you! Easy personalized eating plan, you can’t beat that.
Here are some examples of foods to eat:
Protein=Chicken, Fish, Beef, Beans, Eggs
Vegetables=Broccoli, cabbage, kale spinach, cauliflower, salad
Carbs=Quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, fruit, whole grains
Healthy Fat= Avacado, nut butter, oils, nuts
These are just a few examples of good food choices.
There are no excuses to getting a little healthier; the hand rule of eating is very simple to follow. This should you get you started to a healthier you! As you progress, you may need to make adjustments to fit your goals but this is great start. Spread the word to your loved ones who need a little motivation to get started, it is as easy as counting 1-2-3!
Please consult your physician prior to implementing any the strategies discussed or engaging in any diet or exercise plan.