Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Calorie-free bananas?! I wish!

A friend of mine told me she thought bananas were calorie-free (yes, 0 calories), and I thought it was time to write another post...

This is as close to zero calories as you get.

 It is surprising how un-aware people are with regard to their caloric intake and how "healthy" they are really being. And it is not just that people under-estimate calorie content, but they are just as likely to over-estimate it. After establishing that bananas are indeed NOT calorie free (and assuring my friend that if they were, she would have seen me eating a lot more of them), I asked her how much she thought the small basket of french fries she was eating was - "Around 2000-2500" was her answer. And lets clarify something - this friend of mine is a university-educated Economist, who I frequently turned to for help in my Masters level econometrics course, and who currently specializes in the field of health economics. Regardless of education, people don't seem to be paying attention or know what they are putting in their bodies.

So let's do some MYTH-BUSTING:

  • First of all, that small basket of fries my friend was eating may not be healthy, but it does not amount to her daily caloric intake. I estimate the approximately 250 grams of french fries to be somewhere between 700-800 calories.
  • Sadly, bananas are not calorie free. On the contrary, they are approximately 110 calories (depending on the size), and are actually one of the higher carb fruits. So, if you are hungry, have a banana - not 10.
  • Low (or zero) calorie does not mean healthy. Diet sodas may not cause you to gain weight, but they are not keeping you healthy.
  • To lose weight and/or maintain a healthy diet, nixing all carbs (Atkins Diet) is a baaaaaad idea. Losing weight is about maintaining a healthy caloric deficit (i.e. burn more calories than you eat) and the kind of calories matter! So, saying no to pasta while you binge on bacon and cheese won't help your goals...unless those goals are to have higher blood pressure, sabotage all long-term results*,  and suffer from chronic constipation - fun! 
    • *Once your body stops being able to break down carbs - any carbohydrates you consume will go straight to fat storage!

This may be Atkins-approved, but it will NOT help you
lose weight or maintain your health!

So here are some easy ways to be a little more conscious about how many calories you are eating:

Best iPhone Apps:

NO, this is not mine! I'm lactose intolerant,
don't drink much coffee, and am allergic to gluten-
so this is pretty much all wrong for me! :)
  1. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitness Pal - My favorite!
  2. Calorie Tracker by LIVESTRONG.COM
  3. Lose It!
  4. Restaurant Nutrition
  5. Calorie Counter by MyNetDiary
  6. CalorieCounter by FatSecret

I also find that CalorieKing.com is a great source of information regarding caloric content - and even includes well-known brands and restaurants in the U.S.

Remember - your body needs calories to maintain weight and overall health, just make sure you have a basic understanding of how much you are consuming!

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