Popcorn can be a great snack – it’s high volume and often lower calorie than say crisps or sweets/chocolate. But yet again manufacturers try to tap into the power of the weight loss industry to promote their products to market their products. The natural assumption is that the skinny popcorn be a lower calorie option and perhaps a ‘healthier’ choice.
In reality the ‘gourmet’ brand in this example is actually lower in calories. The skinny popcorn comes in at 481 cals per 100g.
The ‘gourmet’ brand is only 430 cals per 100g! It’s also worth noting that the skinny popcorn gives a smaller serving size of 20g whereas the other brand gives a serving size of 30g so if you were to do a quick comparison you may not spot that.
So as always don’t automatically assume these weight loss branded foods are always the better option.
Read the labels and look at the calories and then make your choice. If you’re trying to lose weight then go for the lowest calorie option, that you actually want to eat!
Sometimes it just seems like whatever you do you can’t stay on track or stick to the ‘diet’ doesn’t it? I see this so often with my clients. They start the week well but then something throws them off and it all goes pear shaped. Very often it comes down to one main reason – the all or nothing mindset.
You set yourself unrealistic expectations that can’t be achieved. You view every week as a new week to be ‘perfect’ and as soon as anything disrupts that you fall totally off the wagon and decide there’s no point doing anything. Common examples I see are things like exercising excessively every day, cutting out food groups or types of foods (sweet things / carbs etc), or skipping meals/fasting. Or you restrict yourself all week and then get to the weekend and all bets are off – either you totally give up because ‘there’s no way I could track this’ or you under estimate what you’re having at social events etc.
So what can you do instead? Well I often talk about trying to ditch this idea of having to be perfect. You don’t need to be – what you do need to do is not give up when something disrupts the plans. You’re going to get much better results being imperfectly consistent 7 days a week than being perfect for a few days then jacking it in all the time.
So instead of waiting to start again on a Monday and going all guns blazing instead start right now. Ask yourself what small change you could make today that would get you closer to your goals. Make it a change that you could stick to even on the worst day. So for example it might be simply to track your calories – you can do this – even when you’re over your target you can still track! It might be to eat veggies every day etc. It might be to either have a starter or a dessert if you eat out – not both etc.
Making small changes you can stick to every day will get you better and faster results than the all or nothing mindset. Something is always better than nothing – even if that something isn’t perfect!
How often do you eat something and label it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and by extension consider that you’ve been ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Grab a bag of jelly tots as a snack and you telL yourself you’ve been ‘bad’ and you’re a ‘bad’ person. In contrast if you snacked on a pot of edamame beans you’d be feeling very virtuous and like a ‘good’ person.
It’s really time we stop labelling foods and good or bad. And it’s definitely time we stop attributing some form of morality to snacks etc. What you eat or don’t eat has absolutely no bearing on your worth as a person. You’re not a bad person for snacking on some sweets. You’re also not a good person for choosing edamame beans.
Yes edamame beans have more fibre and protein and micronutrients, whilst the jelly tots have fewer nutritional benefits. The jelly tots will provide you with some quick release energy, the edamame will keep you fuller for longer. If you were trying to hit a certain number of calories then the jelly tots may even be a better choice as they’re fewer calories but neither is inherently good or bad. They both have a place in a balanced diet. The only reason to describe either as good or bad is in terms of how you think they actually taste! And personally I think they both taste good!
If you want to lose weight/fat it’s very tempting to focus on exercise. But if your strategy is ‘just do more exercise’ then sadly you’re unlikely to make progress. Exercise has tonnes of health benefits and you should be doing it, but it’s pretty poor for fat loss on its own.
We assume more exercise = more calories burned = more fat loss. It’s not that simple.
To lose a pound of fat you need a daily energy deficit of 500 cals. It’s actually very hard to genuinely burn an extra 500 cals every day. For example whilst it obvs varies a general approximation is that a 5 mile run burns 500 cals. Fitting a 5 mile run in every single day isn’t that easy… plus in reality you’ll probably burn fewer cals than that.
Resistance training isn’t much better. Studies show you burn approx 4-8 cals/min so an hour of weights will burn 240-480 cals so you’d need to be doing 1-2 hrs of weight training a day. Aside from finding the time for this it’s also a great way to burn yourself out! Trying to do a load of cardio/weights to burn cals is a great way to just exhaust yourself (which will probably result in more hunger and eating more anyway).
I’ve also spoken before about the fact that more exercise doesn’t in fact lead to more calories burnt. Energy expenditure does increase with added activity, but only to a point. If you go from being sedentary to active, you see an increase in energy expenditure. But if you’re already active and add more exercise then energy expenditure doesn’t increase linearly. The body adjusts other processes to maintain total energy expenditure within a narrow range (energy compensation). Studies showed that If someone increased their physical
activity levels by 500 cals the actual increase in energy expenditure would only be 360 cal. In addition leaner individuals compensate less than individuals with more body fat – those with more fat compensated by almost 50% i.e. energy expenditure only increased by 250 cals. And in another study they found that this was even greater in those eating at a calorie deficit which explains why there are people who are doing an insane amount of exercise every week while eating in a deficit and not making the progress they think they should be.
This doesn’t mean ‘calories in/calories out’ doesn’t work. It means the ‘calories out’ part of the equation is a bit more complex. So this is why focusing on exercise only to lose fat/weight is a bad idea. Not only is it really hard to do on a consistent basis, but there are a number of other factors that can impact how many calories you’re actually burning.
Instead, you should ‘eat for fat loss’. It’s far easier to cut a few hundred calories by making small, yet sustainable dietary changes than it is to try and burn an equivalent amount through exercise. Exercise for health and well being (physical and mental) but not to burn calories. Any increase in energy expenditure from exercise is a nice bonus, but it shouldn’t be the goal.
In an ideal world I’m sure we’d all have the time to prep a perfectly calorie controlled and balanced lunch every day. However in reality we often need to rely on convenience foods or grabbing a lunch on the go. Contrary to belief this doesn’t always have to be ‘bad’ and it’s entirely possible to still have a balanced and calorie controlled lunch. It does however take a few extra seconds in store checking the calories.
If you’re grabbing a meal deal for example and getting a sandwich, drink and snack then just take a moment to check the calories on that sandwich. In this example you could go for chicken club sandwich, a fruit, yoghurt and granola pot and a Fanta. That will cost you nearly 900 cals. That’s a very hefty lunch! However you could also grab a chicken salad sandwich, a yoghurt, fruit pot and a Fanta zero and only spend 568 cals. That’s still a good sized lunch but it’s also greater volume and fibre (from the fruit mainly) and will probably leave you feeling fuller for longer. The saving of nearly 300 cals is the daily deficit you need to lose fat… so it’s a win win!
So if you are grabbing lunch just take a moment to check the cals before you decide what you’re having. Remember, knowledge is power!