Updated: Jun 2, 2021
I was talking to a client during their workout and they literally asked "Since calories give you energy, isn't that a good thing?" There have also been several conversations about various foods, like milk, being healthy or not. I figure this is a really important topic. What do you think, is milk healthy?
Two things; amount and what food. Prioritize amount and frequency.
It is important to have a healthy relationship with food. All food has its place with some nutrient; whether macro or micro. (Don't eat it if you have an allergy, by the way... Please don't eat it if you have an allergy- it is NOT healthy in that case. I think you know this. Talk to your doctor.)
Calories do measure energy. Biology 101. We need energy to perform all of our tasks; conscious and unconscious. If we don't use them, then they get stored as fat. Which can be good in the cases of sickness, or lack of access to food. "Too much fat" is different for different people. And visceral fat is the fat that is more concerning.
Recently, I read a book called The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts that Make Us Overeat by Stephen Guyenet. In the book, he discusses various research experiments and studies on rats*, primates*, and people regarding various mechanisms within our bodies that affect satiety and hunger. One of my favorite studies was the one where groups of people were closely monitored by their weight and amount eaten in a lab. All they had to eat was basically tasteless food that they drink from a straw. People who started lean in the study didn't lose any weight really and ate the amount of calories for the balance they needed. More obese participants lost weight. And Guyenet discusses that further.
There are several chemicals at play; like hormones and proteins. Guyenet also discusses various areas of inquiry with each one. I do recommend this book, if the topic is interesting to you. Scientists are still learning.
In addition, this book was discussing the topic of fatness, not optimal performance- like with fitness endurance or strength, in which you would have to focus on various macro and micro nutrients depending.
Our bodies want us to store fat but also maintain a homeostasis. However, within our modern society, foods have become more rich in fats, salts, and sugars and are much more palatable to us than whole foods. Our bodies were made to crave this sort of thing. That being said, I have trouble saying "_______ is a bad food."
I will go back to frequency. It is important to have fewer highly processed salty, fatty, and sugary foods. These foods have fewer micronutrients but are high in calories and not very satiating- that's why you can't have just one potato chip- says Lays. There may be a situation where you need calories and that's what's available.
Is ____________ healthy?
My philosophy is do you need carbs, protein, and fat? Okay- if the food has one or more of those things, it could be of value to you. But what does healthy mean? It is kind of a relative term isn't it? Not only could it save you from starvation, if that is the case, then it could make you feel happier. Maybe it's your favorite since childhood (Kraft Dinner?) and it brings back the memory. That memory and mood can be considered "healthy". Balance what works with you. Everyday, eat whole foods that have fiber, micronutrients and minerals as well as the 3 macros.
Most of the time eat whole and minimally processed foods. McDonald's is a "sometimes food".
(2) Limit salt and Sugar- if you cook, then you can control the amount
(3) Go for more satiating foods: whole grains and lean proteins.
Sign up with my website and comment in the forum, under the Resources tab, to share recipes. Cooking can help you become successful in eating the foods you need to eat and controlling what goes into it.
*Trigger alert; the book contains discussions about various animal studies. They are intriguing and educational, but some people might be put off. More on this topic is coming!