What Is In Spirulina? Health Benefits Of A Superfood

what is in spirulina

What Is In Spirulina?

The 13 Science-Based Health Benefits

Miracle foods can be overhyped and can come with a lot of spurious claims and spirulina is one of those foods that makes that super foods list.

We went searching and researching the positive benefits of spirulina that actually stand up to scrutiny and what we found were these 13 health benefits that make spirulina a pretty decent addition to a healthy diet.

To learn more about this pretty decent nutritional food, please read on.

 

what is spirulina
What Is Spirulina?

Where Does It Come From?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) which grows in fresh water. The algae can be harvested from non-contaminated water bodies or ponds.

Spirulina is also commonly used as an ingredient in energy bars, superfood beverages, and natural supplements. You can find it available in dry powder form, including flakes, powders, or as a supplement in capsules and tablets.

Spirulina grows naturally in large bodies of water in subtropical and tropical climates. However, most of the spirulina consumed in the US is grown in laboratories.

This helps eliminate the risk of contamination, which is actually pretty common with wild spirulina.

So What Exactly Is It?

It’s really an edible freshwater algae.

 

 

spirulina health food

What Is In Spirulina That Makes It A Health Food?

Is It One At All?

Spirulina contains protein, insoluble and soluble fiber and many nutrients that make it a nutritionally dense and valuable asset to almost any diet.

In the following segment, we will highlight the many health benefits of spirulina and the nutritional power that has made it an increasingly popular health food.

Is It Really Healthy?

The following list of benefits would make it seems so.

 

 

The 13 Health Benefits Of Spirulina

What Are The 13 Health Benefits Of Spirulina?

Let’s Take A Look…

Many people anecdotally swear by the value of spirulina as a healthful addition to their diet.

It would appear that a lot of the compounds found in spirulina can be validated by science as being beneficial to human health.

The health benefits of spirulina may include:

 

1. It May Help With Lowering Blood Pressure

Spirulina contains a pigment called phycocyanin which possesses anti-hypertensive properties that lower blood pressure. (1)

This may be exciting news for those people who have difficulty maintaining a healthy blood pressure. The pigment reverses the effects of endothelial dysfunction which is part of the metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome may be one of the contributing causes of many incidents of stroke, heart disease, and even diabetes.

 

2. It Contains A High Concentration Of Nutrients

Spirulina is considered the most nutrient concentrated food in the world. It is a remarkable source of the following nutrients:

Iron
Spirulina may be the best plant based source of iron making it an ideal option vegetarians use.

Vitamin B1
This vitamin is also called thiamine and is used in digesting proteins and fats. It is also used to improve brain and nerve functioning and it can be adequately provided by spirulina.

Calcium
The blue-green algae contains more than 26 times the content of calcium in milk.
For vegans, people with lactose intolerance or other dairy allergies, calcium may be a genuine issue and finding good sources of calcium is important to their diet.

Spirulina also contains smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals such as chromium, potassium, vitamin c, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and manganese.

 

3. It Could Help To Remove Heavy Metals From The Body

This freshwater plant can bind with heavy metals. (2)

The binding enhances the removal of the metals from the body. Daily consumption of spirulina (5 grams) combined with zinc supplements can actually decrease toxicity due to the arsenic metal by a half.

Spirulina may also bind with other radioactive isotopes so it can be useful in radioactivity. The algae also have a high chlorophyll content which boosts the immune system by removing toxins from the blood.

 

4. It May Accelerate Weight Loss In Some Individuals

There are several mechanisms used by spirulina to lower the storage of fat in the body. This, in turn, helps to decrease the body weight. A good example is by contributing to the burning of fats since protein requires more energy for its metabolism.

Spirulina can also curb hunger due to its high protein content. This benefits overweight people preventing them from eating more food.

It’s a low glycemic food too, which means it won’t elevate blood sugar and impair the fat burning potential of a diet.

 

 

5. It Has Antioxidant Properties

The phycocyanin contained in spirulina is also a powerful antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. Its antioxidant properties protect the body cells from damage.

Oxidative damage can cause aging including wrinkly skin as well as contributing to the degradation of neural tissue. For this reason, brain foods such as spirulina are excellent for those who want to operate at peak physical and mental capacity. (3)

 

6. It May Be Useful When Dealing With Allergies

Some of the main symptoms of many allergies are breathing problems which can be caused by nasal congestion.
The congestion is caused by inflammation which can be reduced by spirulina due to the anti-inflammatory properties of phycocyanin.

For people with dog allergies, food allergies and the many people living with inflammation related conditions, this could be of interest although, more scientific research is needed to show definitive proof that spirulina specifically can alleviate symptoms of such allergies.

 

7. Boosts Your Energy Levels

The chemical composition of spirulina enables it to avail a lot of energy to its consumers. Because it not only contains iron but also antioxidants and protein, it may have a beneficial effect, especially for those who find themselves iron deficient.

 

8. Fighting Anemia

Spirulina is an effective natural supplement that has the ability to fight anemia.

Adding spirulina to your diet on daily basis is known to help increase the hemoglobin content of red blood cells.
It may be very good for people who are suffering from anemia as well as the elderly.

 

9. Dealing With Insomnia

People who have difficulty sleeping may benefit a lot from including spirulina in their daily diet.

Spirulina is known to be a rich source of a certain amino acid called tryptophan that helps promote the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps promote better sleep. Tryptophan can assist in the serotonin to melatonin production cycle that helps increase the potential for sleep.

 

10. Helping the Body Eliminate Toxins

As mentioned above, spirulina is known to have the ability to help remove harmful chemicals from our bodies, which are contained in the foods that we eat.
It is one of the most effective chelating agents known to man. This means that spirulina has the ability to bond chemically with certain metal ions.

Adding a little spirulina powder to your food may actually help eliminate any harmful chemicals it may contain, though it certainly wouldn’t be a reliable eliminator of toxins and shouldn’t be used as such.

 

11. Adding Beneficial Bacteria To Your Digestive Track

Most of the foods that we consume do not promote the health of our digestive track because of their sterility. In addition, many people with busy modern lifestyles take a lot of antibiotics and also consume heavily processed grains. All which can affect disgestive health.

These factors have been associated with serious intestinal stomachic problems that affect a big number of people.

Adding spirulina to your diet regularly is known to stimulate the growth as well as the production of beneficial bacteria in your gut while controlling candida and other harmful bacteria at the same time. This helps promote intestinal health. (4)

 

12. Serving As A Super Food

Spirulina is one of the best super foods that you can eat. It can serve as a nutrition and dietary alternative.

As a superfood, spirulina packs a lot of nutritional punch in a very small helping. It has an exceptionally high concentration of minerals and vitamins when compared to most foods.

It is rich in iron, calcium, and micronutrients, including manganese, potassium, and magnesium.

For people who are temporarily lowering their calories for weight loss goals, this can make spirulina a nutritionally dense source of low calorie sustenance.

 

13. Providing Lots Of Plant Based Proteins

Spirulina is mostly made up of amino acids and proteins. The protein it contains is high quality and is often compared to that found in eggs.

The protein is also highly usable and boasts a remarkable utilization rate of 50-60 percent (high for plant based proteins).

It is also a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids. For vegans and vegetarians, spirulina is a very important source of protein.
Because of its relatively neutral taste, it can be included in virtually any meal. You can always include spirulina in your diet plan as a rich source of protein by sprinkling it in powder form over your meal. In addition, you can take it in form of tablets.

So there we have it. 13 legitimately effective health benefits that spirulina can provide for most individuals.

The sheer utility of spirulina is very efficient and it’s no longer the expensive supplement it was a decade ago because of better farming methods.

What’s The Take Home Message Here?

There are some very good reasons to consume spirulina and enjoy the possible health benefits

 

What Are The Side Effects Of Spirulina?

Are There Any?

Most spirulina that is farmed is very safe and grown under strict controls that are put in place.

Wild spirulina can be a little (or a lot) more dangerous depending on its exposure to certain environmental factors.

Any blue-green algae that is contaminated can possibly cause damage to the liver.

Side effects of contaminated spirulina may include general nausea, needing to vomit, accelerated heart rate, a feeling of weakness or a simple thirst.

According to WebMD, the worst case scenario of contamination may result in illness and potential death.

For this reason, it would be prudent to purchase and consume respected spirulina brands.

What’s The Bottom Line?

It’s overwhelmingly safe, but contaminated, wild spirulina could be very dangerous.

 

 

conclusion

What Is In Spirulina?

Conclusion

Spirulina might be one of the most convenient and healthy sources of nutrition of the planet.

With its massive serve of protein, it could be a wonderful supplement to vegans, athletes, bodybuilding enthusiasts and anyone looking to add a little extra quality protein to their diet.

We’ve shown that it has many nutrients and health benefits that make it worthy of at least thinking about.

While most packaged spirulina is excellent and high in quality and safety, some wild spirulina may not be subject to the controls of the farmed variety and therefore could be dangerous.

We hope you enjoyed this article about what is in spirulina and please feel free to join the discussion below.

What Is Black Pepper? The 11 Real Health Benefits

what is black pepper

What Is Black Pepper?

A Complete Guide To 11 Amazing Health Benefits

If you’ve been hearing some pretty interesting things about the health benefits of black pepper and want to know more then this complete guide is perfect for you.

People have been using black pepper as a tasty seasoning in their food for centuries, but as it turns out, there are actually some really impressive properties that can be very good for your health.

This spicy little fruit is so popular in the west, yet not very often discussed, so this complete guide to black pepper should get the ball rolling.

To find out more about this spicy little berry, please keep reading.

 

peppercorn

So, What Is Black Pepper Then?

The Mysterious Little Berry

Black paper is one of the most popular spices in the world. It is commonly referred to as ‘the king of spices’ due to its popularity.
A pinch of black paper is added to almost every imaginable savory recipe (and some desserts too) due to its remarkable pungent flavor.

Where Does It Come From?

Black pepper is the fruit of a pepper plant which comes from the Piperaceae family and is native to a southern state of India called Kerala.

Is It Just A Spice?

The pepper is not only used as a spice but also as a medicine. It has a chemical known as Piperine which is responsible for its spiciness.

The black pepper plant bears clustered flowers after three to four years which are small and white. The flowers then develop into berries called peppercorns.

The peppercorn is then grounded into a fine powder called black pepper which is used in flavoring food and also used because of its medical properties.

What Does All This Mean?

Peppercorns are a berry and are used in herbal medicines as well as food.

 

health benefits of black pepper

What Are The Health Benefits of Black Pepper?

The 11 Benefits That Make It So Good

As we discussed in the opening paragraph, black pepper is starting to gain popularity for its apparent healthy aspects.

It has a variety of valuable properties.

Black pepper health benefits may include:

 

1. Better Skin
Black Pepper may also help in improving the health of the skin.

Vitiligo is a skin disease which leads to loss of normal pigmentation causing white skin patches on the affected areas.

Black pepper helps to cure vitiligo and restore normal skin pigmentation. The chemical Piperine, found in black pepper, stimulates the production of skin pigments. (1)

Ultraviolet light therapy combined with topical application of Piperine is much better and safer than the chemically-based vitiligo treatment options.

Piperine topical treatment also limits the exposure to ultraviolet rays thereby reducing chances of getting skin cancer.

 

2. Fighting Infection
Black Pepper has antibacterial properties.

The vitamin C content of the pepper is responsible for its antibacterial properties. This compound helps the body to fight against bacterial infections and even insect bites.

Most people are not aware that this beneficial spice contains vitamin c and although it does, it is worth pointing out that it is in small quantities.

 

3. Fighting Free Radicals
Black Pepper has antioxidant properties.

Another benevolent aspect of black pepper is that is may help either prevent or repair the damages caused by free radicals in the body.

The free radicals are produced as byproducts during cell metabolism. They then attack healthy cells in the body causing their DNA to undergo mutations thereby transforming them into cancerous cells.

Black pepper could possibly help prevent several conditions from affecting the body such as liver problems, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer by neutralizing these byproducts.

 

4. Burn Fat
Black pepper may assist in weight loss.

Peppercorn, specifically its outer layers, might assist the weight loss process by enhancing the breakdown of adipose cells (fat cells) in the body. The broken down adipose cell become a little easier to process.

Though the fat burning benefits of black pepper are not necessarily huge, combined with a diet that is designed to lose weight such as the high protein and low fat lifestyle, is can all add up.

 

5. May Help With Coughs
Black pepper might assist with respiratory relief

Black pepper is added to tonics in Ayurvedic practices to treat common colds and coughs. It is also used to relieve nasal congestion and sinusitis.

The pepper has expectorant properties which help in breaking phlegm depositions and mucus in the respiratory tract.

The pepper is also a natural irritant causing you to sneeze and cough which in turn expels the loosened unwanted materials out of the respiratory tract.

 

6. Nutritional Absorption
Black pepper may help by enhancing the bioavailability of other foods.

There is some evidence to suggest that black pepper when added to other healthy food substances in the body, maximizes their overall effect. It makes the nutrients present in the food substances readily accessed by the body.

As mentioned in an above segment, black pepper contains piperine, which can help the body process such things as curcumin, a key ingredient in turmeric, a very popular medicinal food.

 

7. It Might Make You Smarter
Black pepper may assist with cognitive and neurological health improvement.

Several studies have proven that Piperine helps to reduce cognitive malfunctions and memory impairments. It stimulates brain chemical pathways and can, therefore, benefit people that are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. (2)

The neutralization of free radicals as earlier stated can also help to reduce dementia and other aging symptoms such as degeneration of muscles and wrinkles. Because of this, taking black pepper might help to give you a better memory and reduce intellectual degradation.

 

8. Metabolic Support
Black pepper may play a role in enhancing an individual’s metabolism.

The pepper helps in digestion by increasing the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. An enhanced digestion leads to better food metabolism in the body. Better still, the proper digestion helps to prevent stomach related problems such as constipation and diarrhea.

Black pepper also has carminative properties that help in treating flatulence by inhibiting bacterial growth.

It also has purgative properties, that is, it cleanses the intestines and protects the digestive and excretory systems from infections which may help to prevent such illnesses as colon cancer.
Piperine also possesses mild laxative properties.

 

9. Removing Toxins
Black pepper may have diaphoretic and diuretic properties. (3)

Consuming black pepper can help to stimulate sweating and urination. These processes help the body to push out excess toxins, excess salts and uric acid.
It also has diuretic properties that help in reducing inflammation.

 

10. Blood Pressure Benefits
Black pepper might help with regulating blood pressure.

The black pepper contains potassium which may in some cases counter the harmful effects of excess sodium thereby keeping your blood pressure healthy and under check.

It also might help to improve blood circulation.

 

11. Healthy Teeth
Black Pepper could help with dental health.

Black pepper has been shown to possibly support dental hygiene, improving your dental health by fighting tooth decay and in some cases, quickly relieving toothache.

The antibacterial properties might assist with reducing harmful mouth bacteria.

Keeping the mouth, bacteria free and clean can help to maintain teeth health.

Other uses of black pepper include hair revitalization, treatment of dandruff and skin exfoliation.

What’s The Take Away From This? Is Black Pepper Healthy?

Black pepper has some small, but powerful health benefits worth taking note of.

 

black pepper - nutrition

Black Pepper Nutrition

What’s In It?

Black pepper also contains essential nutrients needed by the body for example potassium, manganese, calcium, dietary fiber, iron, vitamin C and vitamin K.
It is also a good source of copper and chromium.

Black pepper contains 2 percent of the dietary requirement of vitamin C.

It has 3 percent of the R.D.I of calcium and has 10 percent of the R.D.I of iron. This may be a good enough reason for vegetarians to eat a lot more peppery foods.

The protein content of black pepper is pretty low though at just 0.7 grams. Black pepper, however, has no fats and zero cholesterol. (4)

What Does This Mean?

Let’s be real, most people aren’t going to eat a lot of black pepper, but if you do, there is some solid nutrition there.

 

Black Pepper Side Effects

Black Pepper Side Effects

What Are They?

By now, we’ve established that black pepper has quite a number of health benefits however, excessive consumption can lead to some issues in a small amount of the population.
Like most foods, there is always a portion of the public that cannot stomach certain quantities.

Side effects of black pepper may include such issues as:
Gastrointestinal Irritations
Bleeding Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers)
Mildly Painful Bowel Movements
Burning Of The Throat

These problems are similar to most spicy foods such as chili and wasabi.

Avoiding Black Pepper

As a result of the above-mentioned issues, it is necessary to avoid using black pepper in recipes for people suffering from ulcerative colitis, peptic-acid diseases, diverticulitis conditions and stomach ulcers.

What’s The Bottom Line Here?

People who can’t eat chilis probably won’t be able to stomach black pepper either.

 

shopping for the best black pepper

Getting The Best Black Pepper

Fresh is Best

In order to enjoy these health benefits and also get the important nutrients, you need to know how to buy and store the pepper (yes it sounds like child’s play).

It is advisable to buy whole peppercorns rather than pepper powder. This is because the pepper powder sometimes contains other added spices or fillers (like rice) thereby adulterating the original spice. Obviously, a discerning consumer does not wish to spend money on unwanted product fillers.

Another advantage of peppercorns is that they retain their freshness indefinitely while pepper powder retains the freshness for about 3 months.

Be keen to select heavy, compact and wholesome peppercorns. As for the storage, peppercorns are better stored at room temperatures.

They can be stored for many years and simply hand milled when required for use. Powdered pepper on the hand is much better stored using airtight containers in refrigerators.

What’s The Take-Home Message Here?

Fresh, whole peppercorns are the nutritionally superior and flavorful product.

 

Conclusion
What Is Black Pepper?

Conclusion

What’s been effectively shown here is that black pepper is more than just a tasty, spicy seasoning and flavor agent for meals. It has excellent nutritional properties and some impressive health benefits.

Though small in size, black pepper packs a punch both flavorwise and with some beneficial nutrients that might just add a little bit of improvement to one’s health.

Piperine that is in black pepper may be very useful in helping to absorb the healthful properties of other foods too, meaning that adding a little more black pepper to every savory meal, could be a winning idea. With the popularity of turmeric and the curcumin that is in it, black pepper which helps absorb the curcumin, could be a great addition to curries or any savory recipes containing the ever popular turmeric spice.

Breast cancer and soy: what you should know

Soy has received mixed reviews in recent years, leading to confusion about it and potential health benefits or risks. The link between soy and breast cancer has been particularly convoluted. Should you eat soy in large amounts to lower your risk? Or avoid it due to the potential estrogenic effects? Are the health benefits backed by research, or is it a result of slick marketing campaigns?

The data about breast cancer in Canadian women is staggering. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Canada. 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 28 will die from this disease. Interestingly, breast cancer rates are significantly lower in Asian countries. But when Asian women come to North America, their rates increase to near that of Western women, suggesting an environmental issue, rather than race. The most obvious dietary difference between western and Asian lifestyle is soy, which has led to intense research into soy, and whether it does in fact contribute to lower rates of breast cancer in these geographical areas.

What’s so good about soy?

As far as whole foods go, soy definitely holds its nutritional weight. Soy contains protein. It is one of the few plant proteins that is a “complete” protein – which means it contains all the building blocks (amino acids) to make a protein in humans who eat it. Since evidence shows people who follow a primarily plant-based diet have a lower risk for some diseases, soy fits the bill as a healthy, protein-rich alternative to animal meats. It also is full of vitamins and minerals, and omega-3 fats (you, the good ones). The other (and arguably most important) component in soy is something called “isoflavones”.

Isoflavones have been toted as one of the components that makes a “superfood” (I term I try to avoid) so super. The controversy surrounding those in soy is due to the fact that they are “phytoestrogens” and structurally similar to the human estrogen hormone. Since estrogen levels have been linked to some cancers in humans, the question is whether these “phytoestrogens” in soy can increase the risk for estrogen-responsive cancers, or reduce the risk by preventing against hormone-dependent cancers.

What the research shows

Some research has shown a reduced risk of breast cancer with moderate intakes of soy (equivalent to about ½ cup of soy milk per day). However, not all studies have found this relation. Some research has shown that dietary patterns that are vegetable, fruit and soy based, appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer by about 30%.

But before you run out to the grocery store to stock up on tofu and soy milk, know this: the age of exposure appears to be very important in that, the earlier you start eating soy products, the greater the protective benefits. Adding soy to your diet later in life may have a much smaller benefit, or none at all. This may help explain some of the differences in findings between different studies.

The bottom line

For healthy women, soy foods are a good addition to any healthy diet that focuses on variety and moderation. If you’ve been eating soy since your early years (prior to age 10), this may have some protective benefit for you. Higher doses of soy may have estrogen-like effects, which may contribute to growth of certain breast cancers. Thus, the recommendations for women with breast cancer, and breast cancer survivors are slightly different.

For women with breast cancer, health professionals are recommending women with breast cancer “take only moderate amounts of soy foods as part of a healthy, plant-based diet. They should not ingest very high levels of soy in their diet or take concentrated sources of soy (such as supplements) containing high amounts of isoflavones” (American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity).

And for the breast cancer survivor, current research suggests that 3 or less servings of soy per day is safe, and does not have any special benefit nor harmful effects “as part of a healthy diet”. It is recommended that breast cancer survivors avoid high doses of soy isoflavones, such as powders and supplements.

Visit the American Cancer Society or Canadian Cancer Society for more information.

What’s an “ecotarian”?

Vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy, others eat fish, but not chicken or beef. Vegans are the extreme version and avoid anything with any ingredient from animal origin. But just as organic doesn’t address sustainability, neither do these dietary classifications. Things have changed. There is a new category of ethical eaters out there these days who make choices not based purely on animal rights, food preferences, or nutritional value, but they are also considering how sustainable a food item is overall, such as food miles, production methods.

For the past few years I’ve been referring to myself as a very unglamorous “80% vegetarian”. To vegetarians, this probably sounded like I simply lacked the conviction to go 100%. More than one person probably thought “what’s the point?”. It wasn’t until I explained myself (and I always feel the need to do so) that they would understand. I wasn’t a typically vegetarian, but it was the closest group I knew of to associate myself with. But I always felt like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.

You see, I don’t avoid meat because I think it’s unhealthy (although, like everything else, too much or it isn’t good for you), and I don’t take a moral or ethical stance on the slaughter of animals for food (It’s also not the only thing I consider when shopping for food). I DO have issues with the fact that meat is an energy intensive process, using 5 Calories of energy to raise ONE food Calorie; and I DO have an issue with the overuse of antibiotics because animals are kept in confined spaces where disease spreads easily, and fed diets that can cause them to have nasty infections. I also take issue with that meat then travelling thousands of miles to get to my plate. So while its not so much the meat-eating that bothers me, the production end of things sure does. This is why I’m an 80% vegetarian. So what’s the other 20%? When I do eat meat, I try to purchase locally, grass-fed beef, organic when possible, and ideally from farmers whose farms are close enough to drive to in an hour or 2. Admittedly, this is not always the case, but its what I strive for.

But meat is only one aspect of my “unique” dietary considerations. Like many other people these days, I also consider things aside from the food itself, like the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers on the environment, and food miles when I’m shopping. A new term has developed for people like me – “Ecotarian”. I was excited when I heard this term because it encompasses not only what I do, but why. When I pick up an item at the grocery store – aside from nutritional value, these are typically the things I consider before deciding if the item goes back on the shelf, or into my basket.

How far did this item travel? An organically grown banana still travelled from Equador to get to my grocery store, which means it’s not so “eco-friendly”.

How processed is this item? Does it resemble its original form? 

How recyclable is the packaging, and is it excessive? Is it made from recycled packaging? Can I avoid plastic? For example, I don’t buy the organic celery that comes in a bag, and I don’t bag my fruits and veggies.

Is my coffee certified as more sustainable (RainForest Alliance) or FairTrade?

Am I likely to eat this before it goes bad, or is this going to go to waste?

Admittedly, being and “ecotarian”, a dietitian, AND frugal with my money, means I spend a lot of time assessing my food, cleaning and beauty product (soaps, etc) for ingredients, back story, and price. But in the end it’s worth it.

Are you an “ecotarian”? What do you consider important when you’re shopping for food?

Why You Should Count Calories

If you’re worried about your weight, whether it be maintaining or losing, and you’re not counting Calories, you’re essentially riding a bike with no handle bars – meaning, you’ll have a tough time getting where you’re going.

Yes, it can be argued that there is more to weight loss than Calories in vs. Calories out, and I don’t like reducing food to a rudimentary number, but at the end of the day, it is the foundation for weight loss success. First, get your Calorie intake under control, then let’s deal with what makes up those Calories.

Why do I strongly urge Calorie counting, or “tracking”?

Evidence shows that ‘what gets measured gets managed’ and most people have no idea how much they’re consuming. Tracking your intake for a few weeks or months can be extremely eye-opening and give you a better sense of proper portion sizes. If you don’t know where you’re starting from, how will you know where you’re going?

All that said, if you’re someone who likes to keep track every day of your life, that’s great. My hope is that you won’t have to track Calories every day for the rest of your life, but doing it for a while or a few times a year, can give you a better innate sense of your own intake and help keep things in check.


How to track Calories

It doesn’t matter if you keep a separate food journal book, scribble it in your day planner, or use an “App” – any place you can do the math will work.

If you’re trying to lose weight, start by monitoring your normal intake for a week, and tallying it up. The next week, aim for a lower number. If you’re lucky enough to have a smart phone, there are many “apps” that will help you determine a Calorie level for your goals. Personally, everyone’s a bit different so I recommend picking a starting place, and adjust weekly depending on results.


Tips for success in Calorie tracking

1) Count EVERYTHING – don’t forget the packets of sugar in your coffee, the spread on your sandwich, or the swig of your kid’s milk this morning – it all adds up

2) Track every day – missing a day is like missing a piece of the puzzle

3) Don’t get thrown off by one bad day – it’s really your weekly intake that matters. Changes in Calorie intake from day to day can actually help keep your metabolism from slowing down.

4) Don’t get caught up in the numbers – remember that nutritional quality of foods is as least as important as the numbers. There’s nothing wrong with higher-Calorie foods, nutrient dense foods (like avocado), as long as you keep your portions in check.

5) Pay attention to the portion size on the package – this is a common mistake. Make sure you look at both the Calories, AND the portion size listed.