7 simple calorie clean ups

calories in vs. calories out

Calories in vs. calories out…again?

I have to be honest, I’m worn out by “calories.”

I’m tired of the “calories in vs. calories out” conversations, tired of breaking down food into simple units of energy.

Food is so much more than just calories. It creates an environment in your body. It creates a conversation between all of your biological systems.

So, if we’re going to discuss calories, I want it to be about the QUALITY of calories, not the QUANTITY.

Yes, energy balance is a thing (calories in vs. calories out). But it’s bigger than that.

Without talking about portion sizes, balancing meals, and more, let’s just focus on some simple and highly effective ways you can improve the quality of your calories easily.

1.     Focus on PLANTS FIRST at every meal. If you eat meat, don’t make it the centerpiece.

2.     Drink only calorie-free beverages. Cut out soda, juice, energy drinks, etc.

  • If you don’t know by now that soda is awful for you, I don’t know how to help you.
  • Diet soda isn’t any better. Studies show it’s not useful for losing weight and god knows what the chemicals are doing to your body.
  • A glass of fruit juice is a glass of sugar. Just eat the fruit instead.

3.     Use healthier cooking oils like olive oil and avocado oil. Or bake, grill, crockpot, etc.

  • I’m very suspicious of vegetable oils. Some research shows that heat turns them into mega trans-fat sources. If you have the time and inclination, read “Deep Nutrition.”
  • I like coconut oil, too, but some people are afraid of the saturated fat.

4.     Use condiments like vinegars and mustards and herbs/spices to flavor your food.

  • You’d be surprised how much SUGAR is lurking in your ketchup and barbecue sauce!

5.     Stop snacking – no food between meals. A little unsweetened green tea or water will do.

  • We adapted over millions of years to long stretches of time without food. The concept of revving up your metabolism by eating a ton of meals and snacks crumbles under close inspection.
  • A glass of water or unsweetened green tea between meals may help with hunger.
  • Research intermittent fasting. Make your own decision, but look into it.

6.     Limit refined and simple carb consumption to once per day at most. Sugar is the devil.

  • Our bodies did not evolve to cope with high doses of refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. It’s not that we’re going to live SUGAR FREE, it’s just that the amount of refined sugar that is good for us is ZERO.
  • Do not fear fruit. Fruit is good.

7.     Find healthier substitutions for foods you love – Halo Top instead of regular ice cream or kale chips instead of potato chips, for example. Or popcorn made with coconut/olive oil. Or nuts.

  • We live in the real world. We’re not going to avoid sugar altogether. Just be as conservative as possible when it comes to consumption.
  • Try days off from sugar. Although the traditional approach is a 21 day fast from sugar, that’s almost impossible for most people. If you aren’t able to do that, try starting with one day off per week from sugar and see how you can improve from there.

By doing the above, you’ll clean up your calories almost without thinking about it! And, as a byproduct, you’ll probably consume fewer calories, too.

But the point is that you will create a healthier environment in your body.

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Jonathan Aluzas is co-owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness center that offers group training in Encino as well as personal training in Northridge.