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    Natracure Blog — Calories

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    Stop Counting Calories!

    A recent story in The Atlantic argued that calories aren’t a useful metric for weight loss: They’re calculated in flawed ways, and there are differences in how individual bodies digest and metabolize them. Some researchers think dieters would be better served by focusing on nutrient density or some kind of as-yet-undetermined satiety value. These are great scientific arguments, but the psychological case against calories is also worth considering. People can and do lose weight with calorie-counting, and some swear by the system. But is it not unbelievably time-consuming and soul-sucking? The existence of a calorie-counter is often defined by an obsessive focus on how to “spend” one’s daily allotment. In this reductive schema, Skinny Vanilla Lattes, Diet Coke, and fat-free yogurt are all arguably smart choices because they help maximize the amount of food you can eat without going over your limit. This mentality is problematic, to say the least. So-called “diet” foods, often low-fat and artificially sweetened, not only don’t help you feel full, they can make you even more hungry. (In the case of fake sugar, when your brain doesn’t actually get the sugar calories it thinks it’s getting, it seeks them out.) Plus, they taste like garbage. But isn’t bad-tasting food and a growling stomach the price you must pay in order to lose five, ten, or 100 pounds? Not really. Although calorie math gives the illusion that you can exert some control over your body by tallying (and, of course, limiting) what goes into it, the evidence says you can’t. Calorie counts aren’t as exact as we’re led to believe, and they don’t take into account gut microbes, which experts increasingly think play an important role in our digestion and, ultimately, our weight. The margin of error is so big that people can literally do everything by the book and still not slim down, as the Atlantic piece points out. Cue frustration and possibly more restriction that could veer toward unhealthy levels. Related: How to Fake a Juice Cleanse And for what? Experts agree that dieting doesn’t work in the long run. Sure, you’re likely to lose some weight at the outset, but most people won’t keep up a strict plan forever. And no wonder, since the concept of a calorie-counting diet is a killjoy: You must deny yourself the things you want in order to be “good.” If you do eat something pleasurable, you must do penance the rest of the day. And if you go over your calorie count, you were “bad” — and your handy tracking app has a record of every time you failed. Deep down, we know what we should eat, namely a mix of nutrient-dense foods like lean meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and dairy. That’s not to say that high-calorie processed foods like Doritos and triple-fudge-chunk ice cream are off the table — on the contrary, research suggests that when foods are considered forbidden, we have stronger cravings and eat more of them when given the opportunity. The idea that no food is off limits is a hallmark of intuitive or mindful eating, a practice that also advises people to eat when they’re legitimately hungry and stop eating when they’re full. Intuitive eating might sound like hippie anarchy (after all, we do have an obesity epidemic in this country, not to mention structural impediments to people of all classes eating healthily), but it could be a huge relief to erstwhile calorie-counters who look at food and only see numbers. Related: 30 Things That Are Making You Fat Time previously spent tracking and worrying about calories could be better used shopping for and cooking or prepping food, or finding out which vegetables you like and how to cook ones you’re only lukewarm about. Learning portion sizes would be helpful, too, but not because of caloric content. Intuitive eating means consuming things that genuinely make your mind and body feel good; happy and satisfied but far short of a food coma. This approach can help people lose weight and keep it off longer than traditional dieters. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth remembering that food is meant to be enjoyed, not analyzed to death, or, alternatively, shoveled into your maw while scrolling through Instagram. Savor your food, eat well most of the time, and don’t shame yourself for eating some demonized item. Even if you never lose weight, you’ll be a hell of a lot happier. [The Atlantic] By Susan Rinkunas via The Cut

    The Truth Behind Your Favorite Caffeinated Holiday Drinks

    ‘Tis the season for delicious wintery drinks at your favorite local coffee stop. From lattes to espressos, the options are endless and can make your mouth water. Unfortunately, these drinks have huge prices to pay for your body and health. As we rapidly approach Christmas Day, you may be more tempted than ever to indulge in one of these beverages. But it might not be worth it. The numbers don’t lie and they’re definitely shocking. Vocativ studied holiday drinks from multiple popular food chains in America. The analysis included such celebrated coffee suppliers as Wawa, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Panera Bread. What they found was an unworldly number of calories and a down-right scary amount of sugar. Sadly, even the least sugary of the drinks sampled turned out to be loaded with sugar. It had 60 grams to be exact. That’s 14 teaspoons or 17 packets of sugar. Yes,seventeen. Remember, I’m describing the LEAST sugary drink on the list. So what’s the worst offender? That would be the Mint White Chocolate Hot Chocolate from Wawa. This 16 oz drink checks in with a ridiculous 140 grams of sugar. That’s 33 teaspoons of sugar. You’re better off chugging sugar straight out of the container! As far as packing the most fat, that award goes to the Starbucks’ Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha. That baby weighs in with 26 grams of fat. On a normal 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, that equates to 85% of your daily suggested amount of fat. Basically, with this drink, you shouldn’t have anything with a trace of fat for the rest of the day. Is it really worth it? That’s up to you! Here’s a list of the caloric content of some of the most popular holiday beverages, courtesy of Vocativ. 16 oz. Mint White Chocolate Hot Chocolate Wawa:  760 calories 20 oz. Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Starbucks:  710 calories 20 oz. McCafe Hot Chocolate McDonald’s:  540 calories 16 oz. Signature Hot Chocolate Panera Bread:  480 calories 20 oz. Snickerdoodle Latte Dunkin' Donuts:  460 calories Those calorie counts really are eye-opening. So beware. It is okay to treat yourself, but be sure to do so sparingly. Making these drinks a habit will be detrimental to your health and weight goals. Just stop and ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” It’s a much smarter option to grab a coffee with low-fat milk or a tea. You can still feel the warmth from these beverages and hold your head high knowing you made a healthy choice!   By Pat DeRiso Sources: yahoo.com, vocative.com, authoritynutrition.com

    8 Things Nutritionists Want You to Stop...Right Away!

    Nutritionists have had enough. They’re up in arms over the misinformation people are being fed and the healthy choices people are failing to make! These health experts are looking out for us and our wellbeing. It’s certainly in our best interest to take their advice and it’s high-time we start doing so! I’ve compiled a list of 8 things nutritionists want us to stop doing in order to achieve better health and longevity.   1. STOP CUTTING CALORIES – Jennifer Pullman, MA, RDN, LDN Jennifer Pullman has a problem with many of her clients cutting out calories. The idea that taking in less calories will cause weight loss is true to a point. However, Jennifer states that you will hit a level where your calorie intake is just too low. Your body will adjust to the new reduced amount of calories and actually slip into starvation mode! Make healthier choices on the foods themselves, not the numbers they carry.   2. STOP DETOXING – Monica Reinagel, MD, LDN, CNS Reinagel has a bone to pick with those claiming they are “detoxing”. She claims the idea that foods and beverages working to clean out the toxins from your body does not have legs to stand on. Instead, she suggests limiting the amount of toxins you put in your body in the first place!   3. STOP STARVING AND THEN BINGEING – Abby Langer, RD In Abby Langer’s opinion, too many people are skipping breakfast and eating light lunches, only to make up for it by bingeing at night.  One of the worst things you can do to your body is starve it during the day and then binge at night. She recommends eating multiple protein-heavy meals and snacks throughout the day to combat the snacking urges and general hunger at night.   4. STOP THE “CLEAN EATING” DIETS – Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD and Elizabeth M. Ward, RD Both Upton and Ward agree that people need to stop using the term “clean” eating and just refer to it as healthy eating. Clean is becoming a buzzword among marketers and they are using it to fool consumers. Clean isn’t a defined term at all in the food world and it can mean anything. Also, they feel as if people who say they eat “clean” may look down on others who they perceive to not be eating clean. In addition, this labeling can make people feel that they may be eating “dirty” if it’s not clean. We need to stop labeling our diets and just make conscious efforts to eat healthier!   5. STOP ASSUMING ALL SMOOTHIES ARE HEALTHY – Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD Marisa Moore has noticed what she refers to as a “health halo” surrounding smoothies. She feels people assume that by having a smoothie, they’re making a healthy choice. However, many smoothies and fruit juices are loaded with sugar and empty calories. We need to make sure we are reading nutritional value labels and are aware of the ingredients. Only then can you be sure you are actually having a healthy drink.   6. STOP EATING PROCESSED DIET FOOD – Alexis Jospeh, MS RD, LD Alexis Joseph swears against processed foods, but not just any processed foods. She specifically advises avoiding foods that marketers tout as “fat-free”. These products are actually loaded with chemicals and other unnatural ingredients. Although they are marketed as diet foods, these processed options are absolutely terrible for you. Avoid them at all costs. As Joseph proclaims, “Eat real food!”   7. STOP AVOIDING FRUIT – Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, LDN Dawn Blatner does not want to hear that you aren’t eating fruit because of the high sugar content. Not only is this sugar natural, but fruit brings a plethora of other nutritional values along for the ride. Fruit boasts antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and more. There are few ways to get more natural nutrition than from fruit! Blatner suggests two cups or pieces of fruit daily.   8. STOP SKIPPING PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST  – Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD Moore is sick of people that are not only skipping breakfast, but when they do have a morning meal, they avoid protein. Having meat, eggs, yogurt, and nuts can all provide you with protein. It will keep you full for longer and will help you avoid trips to the office vending machine or local coffee shop for snacks.   Take this advice from nutritionists to heart. Avoiding certain foods, being smarter in the grocery store and having the right mind-set are all tools to use in your quest to be a healthier and more fit you.   By Pat DeRiso Sources: huffingtonpost.com, HuffPost Blog

    5 Reasons You Need Strength Training In Your Routine

    Making use of strength training to lose weight is sometimes overlooked, especially by women, because they are worried they'll get too bulky. But it takes a lot of work and specialized training to bulk up and look like a body builder. If you include an aspect of strength training into your overall weight loss training program you're not going to build up bulky muscles.

    Here are 5 benefits of strength training to lose weight.
      1. You Burn More Calories. The main advantage about resistance or strength training to lose weight is that you'll burn more calories. Cardio exercise does burn calories, but only whilst you are performing the exercise. You achieve more weight loss through weight training because even while you're resting your muscles will be burning calories. If you are working out with weights 2 to 3 times a week you can reach your weight loss goal much faster.   2. It Builds Strong Bones, Ligaments, Tendons and Overall Health Strength training is not only effective for a weight loss program. It helps to strengthen your bones, tendons and ligaments. All of these work together to help you have stability, strength and stamina. Working out with strength training also lowers your risk of certain diseases associated with being over weight like diabetes and high blood pressure.   3. Muscle Tone and Strength. You don't have to look like a bulky bodybuilder to have good muscle tone. Muscles make everyday tasks a little less difficult. You will be able to open jars more easily, walk a flight of stairs and do your housework or DIY tasks without feeling worn out afterwards. Not forgetting that toned muscles look much better than flabby ones. Strength training for weight loss does mean you have to lift heavy weights for several hours each day. Simply lifting a few sets with a five pound weight will do wonders for your muscle tone.   4. Age With Dignity. No one wants to think about growing older, but if you stay in shape and keep your muscle tone in great shape, you can avoid some of the problems associated with ageing and you won't need to call a young person to open that jar of pickles for you!   5. Improves Your Balance And Coordination. Getting your muscles toned and in shape will also improve your balance and coordination. It helps improve your balance because you work opposite muscle groups. By way of example, if your stomach muscles are strong, but your back muscles are weak, this can influence how well you balance your body, even while standing erect. It can also lead to injury of your back because those muscles are weak.   By Jon Allo