Every day calories are consumed by the billions, and all too often at and between meals. Calorie information appears everywhere with an increasing frequency on food labels, menus, recipes and web sites. But few people understand what that information means and how they work. Especially how they have worked to create a population in which over 64% of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese. The human body does an impressive job making sure that it gets enough calories to meet its needs, but it does not know when the calories are in excess.
The average American spends about 10% of their disposable income on food and with food now being offered in places it never has before; such as, Staples, Bed, Bath & Beyond and book stores, it’s becoming too readily available. Portion sizes, especially in restaurants, are also out of control; for example, bagels are now on average 500 to 600 calories each and sodas are now available in larger sizes such as the 7-Eleven Big Gulp – a 64 ounce drink that is 800 calories. Individuals who check calorie information on nutrition labels often do not note the size of the serving it applies to. For example, a serving of ice cream is only a half cup, and uncooked pasta is merely two ounces.
“Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” written by two experts Marian Nestle – a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at NYU and Malden Nesheim – professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University, explains what calories are, where they come from, how different sources affect the body and why it is so easy to consume more of them than most people need to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. As seductive as the current food environment is, with words such as ‘organic’, ‘low-fat’ or ‘heart-healthy’, it’s still easier not to gain excess weight in the first place.
Dr. Nestle and Dr. Nesheim also reviewed the weight-regulating effects of different sources of calories. Evidence was found to support the popular idea that any type of nutrient is responsible for our obesity. “The source of the calories may make a small difference in weight maintenance or loss, but appears to be much less important than the ability to resist pressure to overeat calories in general”, the authors wrote. Since most people cannot come close to estimating how many calories they consume or expend in a day, a better way to measure intake and output is to regularly check the notches on one belt or numbers on the scale. “It’s much easier to lose a pound or two than 20 or 30” says Dr. Nestle. Of course, the amount of calories consumed is not the only factor influencing ones weight. Calories expended count as well. The more active people are, the better able they are to balance out.
At Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts we think that it’s not only important for you to exercise and learn about calorie intake and expenditure, but through our nutrition education classes, you will learn how to calculate your daily calorie intake, create a healthy eating and exercise plan as well as how to cook fresh healthy meals and snacks. Because knowing the why’s and how’s behind things are the keys to a successful weight loss journey.