Archive for the tag - calories

Do Spicy Foods Burn More Calories?

Dear Davey,

I recently read that eating spicy foods can help burn extra calories. I’ve been incorporating more spicy foods into my diet, but haven’t really noticed a difference. Am I doing something wrong?

From,
Beth

59800-Sexy-ChefHey Beth,

As I’ve mentioned before, there is actually some evidence that spicy foods can burn extra calories.

In a study from Purdue University, researchers added red pepper to dishes and measured the impact on the participants’ appetite and metabolic rate. The study concluded that spicy foods can affect metabolic rate and even decrease overall food intake. It’s possible that spicy foods make us feel fuller, or that they simply cause us to eat slower. That’s pretty exciting.

However, the impact of spicy foods diminishes as individuals become desensitized to the spiciness.

Moreover, the metabolic boost is temporary. The metabolism is quick to return to its baseline.

In other words, eating spicy foods is not a complete strategy in and of itself. Putting hot sauce on fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, for example, doesn’t negate the unhealthy qualities of those foods.

Ultimately, we are able to shed excess fat by decreasing calories in and increasing calories out so that we create a calorie deficit. This is achieved through a healthier diet and both strength and cardiovascular training.

Use spicy foods as a tool, but keep your focus where it counts.

Love,
Davey

 

Fast Food Chains Cut Calories From Menu Items.

surgeons-general-warning-for-fast-foodI’m not a fan of fast food. I’m a fan of good, nourishing food. And the two are rarely one in the same.

However, fast food chains could be taking a step in the direction of better nutrition. According to a new study that examined the menu items in 66 of the 100 largest U.S. restaurant chains, new menu items added in 2013 had, on average, 12% fewer calories than the previous year. It amounted to a difference of about 60 calories per food item.

Of course, whether consumers actually opt for these new options over a Big Mac is yet to be determined.

Moreover, it’s unclear whether calorie reductions were achieved through smaller portions, more nutritional ingredients or some combination of both.

Researchers speculate that restaurants are making the changes ahead of impending federal regulations that will require chains to post calorie information on the menu. Whatever the motivation, the researchers believe that reducing calories in fast food menu options may have a significant impact on calorie reduction.

P.S. If you want to dramatically improve the way you look and feel through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

Is Swimming Better Exercise Than Running?

Dear Davey,

I used to run a lot, but I’ve recently taken up swimming which I really enjoy. However, I’m wondering which is a better workout? Swimming? Or running?

From,
Lucas

sexymaleswimmersHey Lucas,

When comparing swimming to running, there are a few big differences.

The first is convenience. For one, swimming requires a pool – and often a pool membership. If you’re traveling or on vacation, you might not have access to a lap pool. Second, swimming requires more preparation. In addition to showering before entering the pool, you’ll need to pack a bathing suit, towel, goggles, etc. Running, on the other hand, is much more convenient and accessible. You can do it on any street and only need a pair of sneakers.

In terms of calories, it really depends on intensity. If you run and swim with the same intensity, the caloric breakdown is quite similar; there’s not a huge difference between the two. Personally, I find it much easier to push myself on a treadmill versus swimming in a pool – but that is a matter of preference.

There are health risks involved in both running and swimming. Regardless of the exercise, there’s always the risk of injury. It’s important to consult with a physician before starting any routine. Having said that, swimming provides lower amounts of impact on the body’s joints. Because swimming is low impact, it’s a form of cardiovascular exercise often favored by the elderly and individuals with joint or knee issues.

Above and beyond these details, there’s another important variable to consider: enjoyment.¬†Looking forward to a workout is a huge motivating factor; if you enjoy your workout, you’re more likely to stick with it. And a good workout is a consistent workout.

In other words, if you prefer swimming to running, embrace it!

Love,
Davey

 

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

I’m not the biggest fan of counting calories. Instead, I prefer mindful eating. But counting calories is undoubtedly a strategy that works for many – and has successfully resulted in fat loss and weight management.

Of course, calories vary from food to food. Some foods, especially those loaded in fats and sugars, tend to be very calorie dense. As such, it makes sense to replace those foods with healthier alternatives. To get the most bang from your calorie buck, use the infographic below to see what 200 calories – the equivalent of an afternoon snack – really looks like.

Evoke IG April -final-new

Here’s The New Nutrition Label: 5 Things That Are Different.

FDAProposed-Label-Whats-the-Difference-380The food packaging labels are about to get their first face lift in 20 years, thanks to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The changes, announced in a press conference with Michelle Obama, reflect that latest data and scientific findings on nutrition and the links between diet and various diseases.

At first glance, the new labels look quite familiar. But there are a few changes worth noting.

  1. Serving sizes updated to reflect the amount of food people actually eat. Previously, clever marketers could make foods appear healthier by decreasing the serving size. A big of chips, for example, could list the serving as only 11 chips. In reality, most people eat much more. By law, serving sizes will now be based on what people actually eat.
  2. Added sugars listed. Most of us eat way too much sugar, so it’s important to know if sugar has been added to the foods we eat. Though some sugars occur naturally in our foods (for example, the raisins in your cereal), you’ll now know if a manufacturer has added additional sugar. Previously, concerned consumers would need to decipher the ingredients to know if sugar had been added. And with more than 45 names for sugar, this could prove difficult.
  3. Emphasis on calories. Because extra calories turn into extra fat, it’s an important number to track. As such, the FDA has increased the type size for the calories per serving. When you pick up a package of food, it’ll be a difficult number to ignore.
  4. Updated daily values come first. First, the daily values have been updated to reflect the latest nutrition data. Second, those daily values have moved from the left hand column to the right for added emphasis and easier reading.
  5. Changes to nutrients. At the bottom of the nutrition information, the required listings of nutrients has changed to reflect deficiencies in the population. Vitamins A and C are no longer required, but potassium and Vitamin D are mandatory. In addition to the daily value for these nutrients, manufacturers must also list the actual amounts of those nutrients in the food.

Do you welcome these changes? Anything you’d like to see done differently? Let me know in the comments below.

Does Running and Walking Burn the Same Amount of Calories?

Dear Davey,

I’ve always been told that it doesn’t matter if you walk a mile or run a mile. Regardless, you burn the same amount of calories. After all, a mile is a mile. Is that really true?

From,Jon

running-shoes-male_650x366Dear Jon,

Your question actually points to a very common misconception! Yes, a mile is always a mile. That doesn’t change. But the energy required to move your body across the distance varies depending on your speed.

In fact, there have been numerous studies on the topic including this paper from California State University. For the study, 15 male and 15 female college students were recruited. One day, participants ran a mile in 10 minutes. On another day, they walked a mile in just over 18 minutes. Afterwards, they sat quietly for 30 minutes.

The data was very clear. While walking burned 88.9 calories, running burned 112.5. Moreover, after running, participants continued to burn calories at a higher rate compared to walking. After the mile walk, 21.7 calories were burned. After the mile run, on the other hand, 46.1 calories were burned. In total, the run resulted in 43% more calories burned.

But wait there’s more.

The mile run took less time. And with our busy schedules, efficiency is certainly something to consider. If you want to get a lot of workout bang in a short amount of time, running definitely comes out on top.

The bottom line is that it takes more energy to move our bodies at high rates of speed. A more intense workout simply burns more calories. While walking is a great form of exercise – and certainly less likely to result in injury – it won’t result in the same calorie burn as a run.

Love,Davey

Does Eating Slower Help You Eat Less Food?

Dear Davey,

I’ve heard that eating slower helps you eat less food. Is that really true?

From,
Brad

Apr 12 303wolynskiHey Brad,

Your question doesn’t have an easy answer, but here’s what the latest science says.

In a recent study from the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University, researchers examined the relationship between eating speed and food consumption in both normal weight and overweight or obese individuals.

For one aspect of the study, researchers encouraged the participants to eat slowly and put down their fork in between bites. The participants were told to enjoy the meal as though there were no time constraints. After comparing data to meals eaten at a faster pace, researchers found that only normal weight individuals ate fewer calories during the slower meal. For overweight or obese individuals, slowing down didn’t mean fewer calories consumed.

Why the difference? Researchers noted that the overweight and obese group at fewer calories than the normal weight group in the study, regardless of the speed at which the food was eaten. As such, the researchers speculate that overweight individuals may have been self-conscious during the study and ate less food – thus, skewing the results.

All of that aside, there are a few concrete reasons to eat slower. Weight aside, researchers found that both groups drank more water during the slower meal. And, both groups reported feeling full longer after the slower meal.

In other words, even if you don’t eat less during the slow meal itself, feeling full for a longer period of time could reduce the total amount of calories consumed during the course of a day.

At the very least, slowing down is a great way to better enjoy your meal. By savoring our food, we can make our meals something of a more sacred ritual. And if you view your meal as a sacred experience, are you more likely to reach for a nourishing and colorful salad or a soggy, microwaved Big Mac?

Love,
Davey

 

If You Workout, Can You Eat Whatever You Want?

20080812-phelpsIt’s a new year – and many people are making resolutions to exercise. Great! But many people mistakenly believe that working out is a free pass to eat whatever you want.

A few years back, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps gained a lot of attention for his alleged 10,000 calorie-per-day diet including lots of “pizza and pasta.” Most experts believe that Phelps’ actual diet is likely closer to 6,000 calories as it’s nearly impossible to eat 10,000 calories in a day.

Still… for the rest of us non-Olympians, Phelps’ legendary diet helps fuel the popular misconception that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise. Simply put, this is untrue.

On one end of the equation, each of us burn a set number of calories during the course of the day. If we exercise, we can certainly boost that number. At the other end of the equation, each us consumes a certain number of calories through the foods we eat. At the most basic level, if calories in is greater than calories out, we will store those extra calories as fat.

It’s true that regular exercisers have higher metabolisms and thus need more calories on a daily basis. Many people, for example, are surprised by the amount of food that I consume even though I’m just 155 pounds. But if I ate beyond my body’s daily caloric needs – even despite my rigorous workout routine – there’s no doubt that I’d gain excess fat.

And working out doesn’t prevent an individual from developing nutritional deficiencies. As such, it’s not a free pass to eat a diet of French fries and cheeseburgers. On the contrary, it’s still important to eat with health in mind – and it’s important to give your body the fuel it needs to power through workouts and maintain muscle mass.

Bottom line: The idea that you can eat whatever you want if you workout is a total myth. All of us, regardless of our activity level, must pay attention to the foods we eat.

7 Tricks to Cut Calories.

How-to-Cut-CaloriesWeight loss happens when your body is in a calorie deficit. That is, you take in fewer calories than your body burns. For lasting and sustainable weight loss, the calorie deficit is created by moving more and eating smarter.

Cutting calories sounds like a daunting task. But the truth is, just cutting a few hundred calories per day is enough for most of us to make significant progress toward our weight loss goals. It doesn’t need to be a difficult, expensive or time-consuming process.

For some easy calorie cutting, put these tips to use for you!

  1. Drink your coffee black. You’ll cut out 120 calories without cream and sugar (not to mention 18% of your daily value of saturated fat and 12 grams of sugar).
  2. Leave the cheese off of your sandwich. And don’t use mayo or butter. Guess what? It’ll still taste great. You’ll slim your sandwich by 200 calories – and you’ll still feel just as full!
  3. Order a glass of water in between drinks. If you’re out or enjoying happy hour, remember that many alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories but devoid of nutrition. While eliminating alcohol altogether may seem unrealistic, space out your drinks by having a glass of water in between.
  4. Replace soda with mineral or sparkling water. It will still give you some fizz and flavor, but without any empty calories. A single cup of Coke has more than 180 calories.
  5. Don’t eat the pie… crust. We all need to live a little. Clearly, pie isn’t the healthiest dessert choice – but if you do indulge, do so sensibly. By not eating the crust, you slice nearly 100 calories out of your pie serving. Similarly, if you do have ice cream, get it in a cup instead of a cone. Or top your dessert with a few berries instead of globs of chocolate syrup.
  6. Get a smaller dinner plate. Not only do smaller plates hold less food, which translates to fewer calories, but research shows that smaller plates trick our minds into feeling fuller. By moving from a 9″ dinner plate to an 8″ dinner plate, you can cut an average of 200 calories out of your meal.
  7. Substitute in your recipes. If you’re making meatballs, replace half the meat with brown rice. If you’re baking, substitute avocado or applesauce instead of butter.

While these tips might not apply to all people everywhere, the strategy works and is universal. In your everyday life, it’s very easy to cut a moderate amount of calories while still maintaining the quality of life that you enjoy. Making smarter choices here and there can (and does!) add up over time.

What are some other tips you have for cutting calories? Let me know in the comments below!

Which Foods Burn the Most Calories?

Foods rich in protein - like the fish pictured here - tend to burn more calories than carbohydrates.

Foods rich in protein – like the fish pictured here – tend to burn more calories than foods rich in carbohydrates or fats.

I get a lot of questions asking which foods burn the most calories. What these questions are really asking about is the thermic effect of food and how it can be manipulated to help achieve fat loss goals.

The thermic effect of food refers to the amount of energy (i.e. calories) that the body expends to process, use and store the foods we eat. In general, it’s estimated that most people will burn about 10% of their daily caloric intake through this process. In other words, a person eating 2,000 calories per day will probably burn off about 200 of them through the thermic effect of food.

But, as it turns out, this number can be manipulated simply by shifting the composition of the foods we eat.

For fats and carbohydrates, somewhere between 5% and 15% of the calories are burned off due to the thermic effect of food. For proteins, that number is somewhere between 20% and 35%. Using this math, you might expect to burn 25 – 75 calories from a hypothetical 500 calorie meal of pure fat or carbs. But for a pure protein meal of 500 calories, the number could be as high as 175.

Simply by shifting to foods richer in protein, dieters can expect to benefit from an increased calorie burn due to the thermic effect of food. Of course, the benefit is still relatively small – but every calorie counts!

In general, I’d encourage dieters to spend more time and energy on creating a calorie deficit (more calories out than in) through a smarter diet (more plants, less fatty meats, appropriate portions, whole grains, etc.) and increased physical activity… and not getting too caught up in consuming foods that burn more calories.