Imagine your body as a car…
What allows the car to run? Gas.
What allows our body to run? Calories.
Calories essentially are energy for our body. We find calories in carbohydrates, protein and fat. Vitamins, minerals, water and fiber have NO calories and therefore are used NOT to provide us with energy but for other functions.
Carbohydrates and protein contain the same number of calories per gram. You may have heard that carbohydrate rich foods are fattening but in fact they are not any more fattening than protein rich foods! 4 calories per gram means that if you eat 30g of carbohydrate (ex. 2 slices of bread) or 30g of protein (ex. 4oz fillet of sole) you will consume 120 calories.
Fat are higher in calories per gram- 9cal per 1 gram. Therefore, 5g or 1 tsp of margarine will contain 45 calories.
True hunger is our body is telling us that it has burnt all the calories consumed last meal or snack and that is requires more nourishing. We should not be afraid of experiencing hunger-rather embrace it as a signal that it is time to eat again.
The hardest part of listening to your hunger is being able to determine if it is “true” or “fake” hunger. Sometimes we can mistake other feelings for hunger so it is important to reflect before eating if you are unsure if you are hungry with your eyes versus hungry with your stomach. How long ago was the last time you ate? When is the next meal scheduled? These answers will determine how big of a snack will be appropriate.
The fact that we are hungry when all the calories we last ate have been “burnt” for energy, means that the more calories we eat, the longer we can wait between meals/snacks. So, if we are looking for a snack at 10am to hold us over until 1pm lunch, a mere 35cal yogurt may not be enough. This snack will be “burnt” and possibly leave us hungry by 10:35.
Knowing how many calories your body needs in one day is important in helping you lose weight. It can help keep snack and meal sizes adequate- not too big and not too small. It is important to spread the calories throughout the day to avoid being hungry and boost metabolism.
Keeping a food journal that tracts calories can help you be honest about how much you are eating. It can help to point out where the excess calories are coming from as well as any large gaps between meals.
Eating too many calories one day does not necessarily mean weight gain. Gaining weight requires more than one day of excess. Don’t despair if you get off track one day or one meal- make fresh start the next opportunity you get!