Thursday, 28 August 2014

Hidden Calories

Today I came upon a trap which you should be aware of.

I train like I sai in my last blog, a little at the top end of the fat burning bpm zone and into the conditioning zone because I have the luxury of middle of the day hours to put in, while I spend evenings and weekends with the family. So the last two times I have been out on the longest cycle route I like to do, I have gone empty and hit the wall about 6km from finishing. Those last six kilometers are hard. The body has exhausted all its carbohydrate stores, and I probably have had the runner's wall, a big imbalance in salts.

After exercising I then allowed myself a small can of italien tuna and some nuts, with a quite low calorie sports drink before hand. I also bought a frappe cappucino. Last time I read the label of these rather delicisous little treats from our national dairy producer, Tine, I saw that they contained about 3 spoonfuls of sugar. Wrong, They are actually 62 kcal per 100g. That confuses it more: is coffee heavier or lighter than water?  So it now means this is nearly 200 kcal.

Thus you can be fooled into thinking a snack is a non event in the calorie count. It could be a drink or a small cake or a sports bar. Dont skim read to the calories. Remember to do this also when you are doing your cathartic calorie count of all your extras in life. Be honest about what you take as treats, luxuries, beer and larger or repeat portions of dinner. Weigh some items if you are not sure, and compare a few different calorie counting web sites to see what they mean by a portion.

Calories are difficult but also there is a really easy rule. Here's why:

Calorific value is calculated by literally burning the foodstuff in pure oxygen, and then measuring a volume of water around the glass bubble the burning happens in, to attain how many kilojoules it has used in rising the water temperature per gram of food. However the body does not digest all foods as well, nor does it metabolise some as effectively as burning in pure O2. Nuts and sweetcorn are notorious undigested left overs in your faeces. So is a lot of longer fibre carbohydrates or those bound up tightly in whole grain foods. You shit out calories. This muddies the waters a bit, but let us not follow that debate.

The easy part as the alternative  then is that anything with a high sugar content and particularily a high sugar and fat content  is going to be high on the hit list of cutting right back on, rationing down to say 150 kcal a couple of times a week. Also crisps and ground nuts which are high simple chain starch based and have a lot of oils and fats in them. Other nuts like hazel nuts are not so bad, but I would say limit total intake of nuts and crisps to between 50 g and 100g PER WEEK. That is not a lot, a small portion. Also then limit cakes or buns to ONE A WEEK, and check that it is under 400kcal. Alternatively cut it up or buy small sized cakes but be disiplined to 350 kcal per week.

There is or has been recently a lot of research going on about training on a very low carbo diet, and I am not an advocate of a high fat, high meat diet. In any case a lot of low carbo recipies in the books or web sites are actually very healthy, for example salmon with asparagus or broccoli. Ketosis, catabolising fat, is not a normal, sustainable form of energy provision in western humans. Ikinuits had a shorrt life expectancy before western medcine came to them. So I am a critic of the long term high fat, low carbo diet, while I can see that reducing starchy calories can help. Training on low carbo is a painful affair I found and due to this and the high colestrol intake, I fell off the Atkins wagon. 

I am proposing that we simply match what the human body is meant to do> go on a long hunting trip , burn up sugars and then wander back home with the kill while burning fat reserves. I say that you have to go out and hit the glycogen wall , sometimes like me today, consciously in order for the body to start catabolising its fat reserves. The low carbo diets make the short cut or starving your body of anything which can make glycogen and forcing the fat system on. I dont believe this is natural or sustainable in the long term, but could agree that sedentary candidates who are in a danger zone for obesity could benefit from this instead of exercise in the short term weight loss phase.

Some research seems contradictory, but the medical establishment knows that a low quality diet of sugars, refined starches and saturated fats is what is on the menu of the majority of western patients who have heart attacks, even if they arre not very overweight at all. It is most likely the combination of the western super carbo consumer life style which  is so dangerous, although I suspect that long term high fat low carbo diets are going to prove dangerous to mortality and later life morbidity. I stand to be proven wrong of course.

The consumer snack and soft drinks  industry stands in line at every retail food outlet to pump you with high sugar, high refined starch, high fat products and hides a good deal of deadly palm oil in innocious products like even raisins. The drinks industry has been better to respond to consumer demand for low calorie options of course since the 1970s dieting fad. However the snack industry is currently wrapping a whole load of quite unhealthy bars up as ' sports' oriented products and this not good. Read the label about the kcal inhold, and see how much it all weights.

I found the best snack trade off right now is the chocolate Alpen  bar, at 167kcal. less than half a comparable sized chocolate bar, and with mixed whole grains.

The mantra is limit snacks, subsitute in fruit, and avoid super sizing drinks and meal times.

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