Making informed decisions about your calorie intake

If you’re training for the Two Oceans or the Argus or stepping it up in terms of triathlons this year, you’re no doubt taking a closer look at your eating habits and food preferences. It’s worth keeping in mind that losing weight or gaining weight isn’t just a calories game – it’s about changing your lifestyle and realising that you are the one who needs to take control when it comes to making informed choices about your meals.

So why isn’t it just about calories in versus calories burned? Here are some reasons:

  • Food labels aren’t always a true indication of what your body does with a food. For example, foods with strong cell walls, such as almonds, aren’t as well digested and absorbed as foods with less sturdy cell walls and so we only get some of the calories indicated per serving
  • Foods are usually eaten in combination and not in isolation
  • The way you prepare your food (chopping, juicing, heating) affects the energy released from foods
  • Eating less processed foods requires your body to do a bit more to digest them whereas eating highly processed foods requires little energy expenditure
  • “Empty calories”, such as you would find in fizzy drinks and alcohol, are calories you consume which give you no other health benefit; they simply up your calorie intake for the day whereas something like an apple will provide you with energy, fibre and vitamins

Mountain Biking

If you’re doing strenuous training, you may find that you’re hungrier throughout the day than you usually are or that you feel tired sooner. It’s important to fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods which will help it to recover and build muscle. Try to also increase your vegetable and fruit intake where possible to ensure that you’re getting your optimal intake for vitamins and minerals.

If you’re looking for a boost after a strenuous training session then the much-loved Peanut Butter Bomb power smoothie from KAUAI is a great functional smoothie to get your hands on. Made from a mix of Muscle Works® whey protein, chocolate, banana, peanut butter, fat free milk, and low fat yoghurt, one of these low fat, low sodium 500ml smoothies gives you 2451 KJ, 584 Calories, 60g carbs, 44g protein, 17g fat, 3g saturated fat, 4mg cholesterol, 307mg sodium and 3g fibre.

Another power smoothie worth a try is the CU Right smoothie that’s made with an extra 500mg vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, helping to reduce cell damage which can be caused by intense training. This vitamin also boosts your immune system, aids the absorption of iron and plays a role in energy levels.

Healthier eating can definitely become a preference instead of an obligation and choosing the right foods at the right times, depending on your daily activities, becomes easier as you learn to listen to what your body needs. And if you’re eating well-balanced meals when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full and exercising in such a way that you feel fit and healthy, your body will reach a weight that is just right for you.

 

Source: Scientific American Sept 2013 Special Food Issue

Image sourced from Pinterest

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