Calories have gotten a bad reputation as some people think that they are simply what causes us to put on weight. If you ask a group of people what the key to getting healthier is, a few of them might say cut back on calories. While over eating foods with high calorie counts may cause weight gain, I find that if you do things right, calories hardly have an impact. To figure out how to keep your body healthy, you first need to figure out how things work. I do not like boring science lessons either, so lets see if I can make it as painless as possible.
Now if we are going to have a discussion about calories, we first need to know what they are. The complicated answer would be to say that they are defined as “the energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius” but lets not confuse anyone here. A calorie is simply energy your body gets through food to help you function properly. If you eat too many, your body stores it as fat cells which are made up of pure energy. Intake too little calories, and your body uses what it has to work with. That’s why fewer calories sometimes equals weight loss, but eating too few calories can make you feel weak and hungry all the time.
Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns off the calories you intake in order for you to function properly. Even if you are not being active, your body still uses up some calories in order for your everything to work right (like your heart or brain). Your metabolism is the rate of how many calories your body uses up and how fast. The higher the metabolism rate, the more calories are used for your body to function and much faster. The lower, the slower your body uses calories up.
Now that the boring stuff is out of the way……..
So calories and metabolism all affect different people in different ways. But if you do things right, they should not be too big a problem in your life. Many people count calories daily in order to add up to a certain number in which they set so that they do not over eat. As this helps some people, other people have different ways about going about health. It is all about how you go about it. Setting steps is probably the easiest and the most effective way to go about your goal.
Just because you eat under 1800 calories a day does not mean you are healthy. You could eat a couple of meals at McDonalds and get less than that. It is all about what you eat and how you eat it, not what it equals up to. The easiest way to go about doing that is to not complicate things. Keeping food simple is probably the easiest way to get your ideal health. I usually like to stick the produce isle of the grocery store. If you wander far from there, then don’t worry. Just check the ingredients in what you are eating. A lot of foods are stuffed with preservatives to give it a long shelf life. Preservatives are only going to do you good if you do not intend on eating for another hundred years!
Many people complain “eating healthy is too expensive. I just cannot afford it”, but it all depends on what you are buying. If you are eating Kashi pizzas all day, then it can get to be over $5 a pie! Getting fresh produce can be about $2 a pound! That’s more than twice the food for half the cost!
Getting fresh food and vegetables, cooking them with some grains or protein, and throwing in some spices can be the easiest way to make your food healthy. Think bright and colorful. Greens, oranges, purples, reds, yellow. In most foods, the same stuff that gives it it’s color also gives it it’s nutrients. So a simple way to think about which foods are healthier is “the more colors on your plate, the more vitamins and nutrients you are getting. If you eat simple foods that are full of fiber and essential nutrients, then your body will feel better, fuller, and you will feel like eating less and getting out more. If you have to take it one step at a time, go for it. Go from eating fast food every day to eating it once a week and eventually cutting it from your diet completely.
There is no instant key to success that works for everyone when it comes to optimum health. Just keep it simple and you will be feeling better before you know it!
-Andrew D. Morrison-