One of the more common questions that I get asked as a personal trainer is…How many calories should I be eating? This is a loaded question with no definitive answer. Big businesses have really capitalized on the confusion surrounding calories, carbs, supplements, weight loss and overall health. Not to sound cynical, but they actually created the confusion. Just a few short generations ago, people were not perplexed about their food choices. It used to be pretty simple. We understood the importance of a healthy breakfast. A cup of coffee was 8-10oz with maybe a shot of creamer and a couple of sugar cubes. We didn’t eat all of our lunches out and dinner was made mostly from scratch. As a whole people enjoyed soda, alcohol and desserts truly in moderation.
All of that has changed for a large percentage of our population. More people are skipping breakfast than ever before or they are replacing it with a breakfast sandwich from a fast food restaurant. Breakfast sandwiches are so popular that even your favorite coffee chains and donut shops have gotten in on the action. The average cup of Joe has gotten so big, that car manufactures had to start making their cup holders bigger. Many people are fooled by the so-called healthier “casual dining” chains that are packed at lunch hour. For the few families who actually sit down and have dinner together, it tends to be pre-packaged foods that are a nutritional disaster. And liquid calories, mostly from soda and alcohol, are being consumed at a rate that far exceeds moderation.
It’s no wonder that heart disease is now the number one killer of all Americans and that obesity levels are at an all-time high. The percentage of people that are genetically destined to become unhealthy is very minimal. Anybody looking for permanent weight loss is unlikely to achieve it by simply “cutting back” on their crappy food choices. The quality of your food is much more significant than the quantity. Nobody ever became overweight because they ate too many apples!
For anyone wanting to know how many calories they should consume, we have to first examine the quality of their food. One-hundred calories of a soda is not the same as 100 calories of berries. The sugar in soda is not the same as the sugar in berries. For all of you calorie/point counters chomping down on a 100 calorie snack pack, you have been misled. See, not only do healthy foods contain a wealth of cancer and disease fighting antioxidants, but they also elevate your metabolism and turn you into a fat burning machine. A balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, fiber, lean protein, unsaturated fats and water is a winning combination in which you will never have to count a calorie again!
The bottom line is focus on the quality of your food and the quantity will take care of itself.