So often we get caught up with calorie counting that we lose sight of what is really important. We need to understand that it’s what you eat and how much of it that is really the gateway of whether you will ultimately lose, gain or maintain your weight. For the sake of simplicity, we can look at nutrition in two parts, macro-nutrients (Carbs, fats and protein) and micro-nutrients (Vitamins and minerals). This blog will focus on Macro-nutrients.
Highly processed food severely lack both macro’ and micro-nutrients, but excel in sodium, sugars and fats. Because of convenience we often have no choice but to pick the quicker of the two. Keeping in mind that calories=energy, one could have an option of prepping ½ a melon or a thumb size cheese stick for the same 200 calories, or two heads of celery or a ½ a candy bar for the same 200 calories. Now seriously we are not going to eat 2 heads of celery but my point is we can get a lot more food for the same calorie count by choosing a more nutrient dense option.
So, let’s look at meal option, because we are a society always on the run. Below is a processed Big Mac or homemade hamburger option. For less calories, more food, we save in carbs, sodium, cholesterol, fat and gain in protein. Now I didn’t breakdown the micro-nutrients in this scenario, but I think you can figure out that the more processed the food the less nutritional value it has.
Big Mac, total calories 593mg, 33g fat, 79mg cholesterol, 1007mg SODIUM, 396 Potassium, 44 Carbs, Sugar 9 gram, 26-gram Protein. (3.2 ounces of burger)
6 ounces Grilled Hamburger on a whole-wheat bun with lettuce, tomato and Low-fat Kraft Thousand Island sauce: Total Calories 416 mg, 13 grams of fat, 75mg Cholesterol, 421 mg SODIUM, 374 mg Potassium, 30 mg Carbs, Sugar 13 grams, 32 grams Protein.
By prioritizing our food choice, we regulate out appetite, control blood sugar and insulin levels, gain better nutrition, sustain a constant level of energy and begin to show love towards ourselves that we deserve whole real food. Think ahead, prepare, your body will give back what you put in.
Stacie A. Zamperini M.Ed.