Friday, October 29, 2021

All Calories Are Not Created Equal


When it comes to losing weight, the list of options seems to be endless—Atkins, Whole30, Paleo, and Ketogenic are just a few of the more popular diets today. Back in the 90s, low fat was all the rage, and now people seem to worry more about carbs and sugars than fats. But ask many diet skeptics, and they will tell you that “a calorie is a calorie, and you just need to worry about calories in versus calories out.”

But is that true? It certainly seems to make sense on the surface. And we all remember the professor who lost 27 pounds on the “Twinkie diet” in 2010. However, while a calorie’s energy value may be the same no matter what you eat, the fact is that your body responds quite differently to different types of calories. Here are just a few facts that explain why all calories are not created equal.

#1: Calories from whole foods provide more value than processed foods.

Yes, by definition, a calorie is the same no matter what you eat. As defined, a calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree C. so technically, 100 calories of cake offers the same amount of energy as 100 calories of kale. But, as we know, the value of a food goes beyond calories, including macronutrients like fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Whole foods give you a bigger “bang for your buck,” providing a better overall value for what you are eating, with more nutrients and fewer total calories.

#2: Not all sugars are the same.

While sugars tend to have the same chemical structure, they aren’t metabolized in the same way by the body. . Glucose and fructose are two simple sugars that are very common in our diets. Glucose can be metabolized by any tissue in your body; however, fructose must be converted in the liver before producing energy. Excess fructose is converted into cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing body fat and blood lipids.

Calories from fructose are much more harmful than glucose, and should be avoided as part of an organic diet.

#3: Different foods are absorbed differently by the body.

You may know that carbohydrates, fat, and protein have different caloric values per gram (4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein, and 9 calories per gram for fat), but they are also absorbed differently by the body. Protein is by far the most efficient, because it requires more energy to metabolize, which means that the body burns more calories when you eat protein compared to fat and carbs (if you read last week’s blog you should already know that ;))

Because protein is more efficient, 100 calories of lean chicken is more beneficial than 100 calories of bread. Keep the carbs low and protein high if you’re wanting to keep a healthy diet

#4: Some calories are more filling.

In the same way that protein is metabolically more efficient, it is more filling compared to fats and carbohydrates. Studies also show that people on high protein diets lose more weight without counting calories due to decreased appetites.

If you are wanting to lose weight, protein calories are much valuable than others. Eat more protein and stay full longer.

#5: Sugary, processed foods can increase cravings.

While protein is more filling, some foods not only fail to leave you feeling full, but can actually cause more cravings. Sugary, processed foods flood the pleasure center of your brain with dopamine, which causes you to want more of that “boost.” Over time, a tolerance can build up, and your brain will require more sugar for your brain to win the same reward.

Some natural foods like fruits and vegetables have a high content of sugar. However, they also contain fiber and protein. Eating an apple is very different then drinking a glass of apple juice.  You typically only eat one apple. When you do so you also get all of the fiber, micro, and macronutrients as well. When you drink apple juice, you drink the sugar of several apples and none of the fiber. Drinking a glass of apple juice may have as much sugar as a glass of pop/soda; however, it is a step in the right direction as you get the benefits of some of the natural vitamins and minerals. The best option is to eat the whole fruit.

Not only do the calories from sugary, processed foods leave you with very little nutritional value, but they can also lead to eating more calories overall due to the rush of dopamine that is sent to the brain.

#6: It’s much harder to overeat some calories.

Think about a time you may have eaten a dessert or decadent meal and realized later that it contained hundreds of calories? A recent article in Time found that the average takeout meal contains 1,205 calories, and 92% of meals contained at least 570 calories. Have you tried to eat 570 calories of kale? If so, you’d be eating almost 18 cups, which would be nearly impossible!

Raw fruits and vegetables are not as dense with calories, giving you a higher volume of food to eat for fewer calories.

So while an individual calorie measures the same in a cookie or a salad, the value of a calorie goes beyond this very narrow definition. A diet of organic, whole foods with limited sugar and carbohydrates will lead to decreased appetites, lower calorie consumption, and better overall health.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What is the Thermic Effect of Food?

Different types of foods go through different metabolic pathways, and some pathways are much more efficient than others. Fat and carbs travel a very efficient metabolic pathway, which means that the majority of the energy you intake from the fat and carbs you eat is used for “work,” or important bodily processes. The pathway for protein is a whole lot less efficient, meaning many of the calories you consume from protein are lost as heat when that protein is metabolized by the body.

According to Healthline, “the thermic effect of food (TEF) is a measure of how much different foods increase energy expenditure, due to the energy required to digest, absorb and metabolize the nutrients.” In other words, TEF measures how different foods impact your metabolism by measuring the energy needed to process the nutrients from said foods.

Protein requires a lot more calories to digest compared to fat and carbs, with a portion of protein burning about 25-30% of the calories contained within itself compared to about 2% for fat and about 7% for carbs. 

How Can I Capitalize on TEF?

As we mentioned in the last section, eating more protein is the best way to utilize the TEF to your advantage. Not only does protein have the highest thermic effect of the three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates), but it also has an anti-aging effect because it’s needed for muscle and tissue health.

Despite its importance, there’s a very good chance that you’re not eating enough protein. Recommended protein intake will be variable since we’re all different heights and weights and have vastly different activity levels. For example, given the demand they place on their muscles and tissues, an athlete will need more protein than the average person. 

A good rule of thumb is to consume at least 30g of protein at each meal, but ideally between 30-50g. To put that in perspective, 1 ounce of protein is about 7g. If your goal is 30g/meal, you’ll need to eat at least 4oz of protein at each meal. Did you know that one egg is only considered an ounce of protein? That means you’d need to eat at least 4 eggs with breakfast to hit your goal, not the 1-2 that you’re probably eating now.

The best, most bioavailable (easiest for your body to digest and absorb!) forms of protein will be from animal products, like eggs, dairy, meat, seafood, and more. You can also get protein from plant sources, with foods like beans and other legumes, organic soy, or nuts and seeds. Just keep in mind that since many of these are a mix of carbs and protein, they won’t have the same high TEF that animal-based protein sources have.

Not only does protein have the highest TEF and have an anti-aging effect, but it is also the most satiating macronutrient. That means it keeps you full for longer, helps balance your hunger hormones, and even reduces cravings. It’s so important to eat enough! If you’re interested in reading more, we talked recently on the blog about the importance of eating enough protein.  


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Surprising Uses For Coconut Oil


Coconut oil is quickly becoming a new food obsession. And despite the fact that it was labeled as a big no no in the nutrition world several years back because it’s a saturated fat, it's come back has been huge.  And rightfully so. 


Other than the obvious use of cooking with it, here are some other super awesome, and maybe surprising excuses to dig into the stuff.


#1 Use it Externally As A Skin Tonic


As many of you may know, coconut oil has fabulous antimicrobial properties to help our bodies immune system deal with foreign invaders. So when we EAT it we gain all that awesomeness. 


We can also use it EXTERALLY for the same reasons. 


You can use it as an eye makeup remover, help prevent stretch marks, and use on dry skin or acne prone skin for a night cream. 


It can also help soothe eczema and psoriasis.


Try adding some essential oils to it and rubbing into irritated areas for a nice soothing scented oil.


#2 Coffee Creamer


This one is so amazing! You can put a dollop in your coffee and it emulsifies like a cream. And then you get all the deliciousness of the coconut and froth heaven without the dairy. 


And you get all the benefits from ingesting it like brain health, immune health and gut health. Win. Win. 


#3 Instant Chap Stick


Rub some on your lips and your good to go.

#4 Weight Loss


I know for many of you this is counterintuitive. Eat fat to lose fat? Yup. 


Studies have shown that the make up of this fatty acid has a direct affect on metabolism and thyroid health in that it helps BOOST it. 


Fat is also the thing that triggers the brain to tell you you’re FULL and you stop eating. So its super important to eat fats with every meal so you know when to put the fork down. 

#5 Oil Pulling


Many may ask about the legitimacy of oil pulling. For those who are unfamiliar here it is. 


So oil pulling is ancient remedy stemming from India. The idea is that you swish a tablespoon or so of oil (coconut) in your mouth for 15-20 min a day and it not only helps dramatically with gum and oral health it helps draw toxins out of the body. 


When you’re done swishing you spit the oil out and go on with your day. 

It works! You will see a dramatic difference in your teeth and gums.  They will be whiter and healthier in a matter of a week.  Who doesn’t want that?!

You might have to work your way up to 20 minutes.  Our cheeks might not be in shape just yet, but you’ll get there.  Don’t get frustrated if you need to spit at the 7 min mark.  Just like with exercise, it is a progression. 


Timing around this is key so work your way up if you have to. You’ll get there. 


So the how to?

1. Take a spoon and dig out about a TBS of organic coconut oil and put it in your mouth.  You can add a drop of either peppermint and/or tea tree essential oils too!

2. Swish around for 20 minutes. Your saliva will mix with the oil making it like an oily mouthwash. 

3. Spit the oil in your TRASH CAN. This doesn’t need to be going into your septic or the kitchen sink.

4. Rinse your mouth well with warm water.

5. Brush your teeth. 


Repeat the next day.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Benefits of Kettlebell Training


In one small piece of equipment, kettlebells boost your fitness in several aspects. The kettlebell is the most versatile fitness tool; you can use it to improve your strength, power, and cardiovascular endurance. A study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) shows that kettlebell training improves strength gains, aerobic capacity, balance, and core stability.

High Calorie Burn

Kettlebells are well known for their calorie-burning potential. Kettlebells can be used during high-Intensity workouts to get a fantastic sweat on. Due to its circular nature and submaximal load for movements like the snatch or clean and jerk, you can work for higher longer and longer sets of 10 minutes or more.

During a kettlebell workout involving snatches, the calories burned were shown in an ACE study to be 13.6 calories per minute aerobically and 6.6 calories per minute anaerobically. A calorie burn at this level is similar to a six-minute mile running pace.

Improved Jump Height

Kettlebell exercises such as swings and snatches can improve jumping ability. What’s more, kettlebells can improve your athletic abilities in many ways by developing explosive power. 

According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the hip-hinging motion of swings and the quick reaction needed to swing the kettlebell builds explosive strength in as little as six weeks.

Improved Posture and Balance

Turkish get-ups, windmills, and armbars are some fantastic full-body movements that will increase your mobility, stability, and strength. Any tool that increases strength, stability, and mobility will help improve posture. 

Kettlebell exercises can improve postural reactions.  Postural reactions are movements that your body takes to help correct its position in space. Meaning, they keep your head, neck, and spine in the right place, helping prevent falls and poor posture.

Low-Impact Cardio

Since kettlebells are adept at helping you burn a high amount of calories by increasing your heart rate and using your whole body, they provide excellent cardio training while avoiding the pavement pounding impact of running. 

Improved Grip

Gripping onto the handle of the kettlebell helps increase grip strength. Keeping ahold of a heavy ball while swinging it through the air is a difficult task that requires strength in your hands and fingers.  Research shows that grip strength is a good indicator of overall health and quality of life, especially as we age.

A Stronger Core

Kettlebells help you build a stronger, more stable core. The nature of kettlebells changing your center of gravity forces you to brace your core, building functional strength and stability in the spine. Rotational movements are essential too, and easily done with a kettlebell. Try around-the-worlds, Russian twists, Turkish get-ups, and one-arm swings.


Kettlebells are easily transportable. They have a built-in handle and can provide a full-body strength and cardio workout with one tool. You can keep one in your car and ensure that you always have a dynamic piece of equipment to get a good workout in.


Since kettlebells are so good at activating your muscle groups and burning calories, you can get both your cardio and strength training in one efficient workout session. You can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time and get a great workout in 20-30 movements. Try using some kettlebell movements in your next HIIT or Tabata training session.

Increased Shoulder Strength and Stability

Using a kettlebell for any pressing or overhead movements will challenge the shoulder in a unique way that a dumbbell or barbell won't, increasing your shoulder stability and strength. Shoulder strength and stability are vital since we reach and extend using our shoulders so frequently. Shoulders are easily injured, so keeping them fit should be a priority.

The Takeaway

Kettlebells provide a unique method of training that can add variety to your workouts. They are highly effective and easy to transport. Start by adding a few simple kettlebell exercises to your routine and build from there. Seek out instruction for proper form to keep yourself injury-free and performing well.