Counting Calories v. Caloric Intelligence

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While waiting for my cup of dark roast at my local coffee spot pondering why there isn’t more grass-fed creamer on the market when I hear two folks behind me talking…one is talking about how many calories she is now eating a day while the other searcher comments on their new nutrition program that “cuts carbs.”  Ugh.  I was going to explain (but opted not to spread unsolicited Fitness Truth this time – had to get the bean first) that counting calories and being a trendy diet program follower will probably end up in the same spot – frustration, disappointment and a body that doesn’t look the way you want.

Here’s the deal.  Nutrition and eating should be reflective of your training level (and intensity of course), your life balance equation and goals for performance/health.  Driving yourself nuts over calories, specific diet plans or pills-n-potions are enough to drive cortisol levels up so you put on more weight (joke, sort of). This is part of the reason the WGA Way focuses on quality of macro’s and response eating.

Be calorie-smart.  There is a difference between 100 calories of a bagel versus 100 calories of broccoli versus 100 calories of chicken versus 100 calories of avocado.  What’s the diff?  A few things.  The thermogenic effect of the food affects the rate at which your body breaks it down and how it uses the heat from that food (remember, a calorie is a measurement of heat).   The vegetable and the protein get burned through faster (for the most part). There is also a different hormonal effect to each of the foods mentioned.  Meaning, the protein and fat will have a more desirable effect over the bagel or broccoli.  And when you eatthe above-mentioned 100 calories shoulddepend on the timing of your training and where you are in your training program.  During a high volume block of training may mean you mix in more complex carbohydrate (and probably a few more calories that day/week). Or, the timing of ingesting calories should largely be a result of how soon you just finished training or how many times that day you were active.

Finally, eating should be fun and not stressful.  Food is a way to relax or reward. It’s a way to connect with family and friends.  It’s all about choice and more importantly how you balance (our 80-20 approach) what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat and why you eat.  Train hard and you’ll have more opportunity to explore the 80-20 rule and the effect of calories on performance.  Instead of counting calories or hopping on the next trendy diet program, count sheep and hop on a treadmill.  


For the record, I didn’t get my favorite snack with my coffee.  It was a day off.  The two behind me in line stressed over whether or not to split the blueberry muffin or the chocolate croissant.

Fitness Truth