Every body needs them as they are our energy system and assist our bodies to move and burn, but why do so many people eat them until their waistlines bulge over their belts? I tell you, it’s all calorific fluff.
The dictionary definition of a calorie states that it is “the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 degree celcius”, they are literally the amounts of energy used to propel our bodies into space. A challenging truth for many of us is that if our body doesn’t move very much during it’s waking hours all of those ‘yummy’ calories have not been burnt off, hence they are stored as body fat and the beginning signs of the tummy bulge emerge.
Nutritionists speak of Empty Calories, these are what I call “Calorific Fluff”, which is to say calories that go into the body yet do not have any nutritional content. It is a challenge to pass the chip bowl when you’re having a few drinks, not to mention the snack that is eaten after a night of socially responsible drinking. Alcohol is calorific fluff as the substance itself is high in energy and yet does not have any nutritional value, check out the little guide below :
glass red wine (125ml ) 85 cal
glass white wine (125ml) 85 cal
pint beer 200 cal
pint stout 170 cal
vodka, gin, whiskey ( 30ml) 60 cal
Most alcoholic drinks have a mixer as well so add an extra 90 calories for every spirit consumed, then times by total drinks for the occasion.
Caloric fluffiness is also prevalent in all fried foods, pre-packaged biscuits, cakes and crisps, soft drinks and the myriad of sweetened lollies. So one must be diligent in their pursuit of meaningful calories found in healthy alternatives such as nuts, clean proteins, home cooked meals and perhaps moderation with the alcohol consumption.
When we look at our foods they can be broken down into food types such as the macro nutrient group of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, these all have a calorie content that is measured in calories per 1 gram as follows :
It is important to identify what these food groups are in real terms so that it’s not just a caloric number. Carbohydrates are found in fruit, vegetables, pulses, legumes, juices, bread, pasta, rice, quinoa and noodles. Proteins are the building blocks of the body and they do a great justice in that proteins sate the appetite which means less food going in with lower calories per gram, all animal products are protein such as red meat, dairy, seafood, poultry, as are vegetarian options of legumes, pulses (dahl and rice creates a vegetarian complete protein). Fats are the highest form of caloric intake BE AWARE of all fats, good fats are in oily fish, nuts and seeds and avocado. The truly bad are in deep fried foods as the content is so high, also watch saturated fats in red meats, bacon, pork (this includes sausages!) trans and hydrogenated fats are found in packaged biscuits, cakes and crisps. The dietary intake of fat does make a huge difference to the daily calorie intake.
Take note of the Nutritional Index on the packaging of foods as this will develop an awareness of the calories going into the diet.
When calories and their expenditure are looked at from an exercise perspective I take on the old addage “Energy in, Energy out”, which is to say, how much have I eaten today and what quality of foods have they been? then calculate this with the amount of movement exerted within the day.
When I eat Calorific Fluff I feel slow, sluggish and bloated (especially at Easter as I just ate enough hot cross buns for a family of four). On the days that foods with a high nutritional value are eaten the body responds with energy, it’s as though nature rewards the biological machine with instant positivity.
Calories are an integral building block of our daily lives, it only takes a little education to differentiate between the Fluff and the Substance. Nothing beats a daily ritual of healthy balanced eating alongside some exercise and laughter.