FIT Talk With Tania  

Counting calories is the wrong way to lose weight

Stop counting calories

For decades, one of the most common ways people have tried to lose weight is by counting calories.

We've been led to believe that by simply taking in fewer calories than we burn off, those unwanted pounds will fall away and be gone forever.

On paper and in our heads this makes sense. After all, if you normally consume 2000 calories per day and then drop down to 1500 calories per day, the math supports that you should lose weight. And you will—at first.

Like many other diets out there, this “calories in vs. calories out” is based solely on numbers, without taking into account things like nutrition, health, fitness goals, etc. It's possible to hit your number target for the day in any number of unhealthy ways, many of which actually work against the way the body was designed to function, resulting in a slower metabolism and even compromised immune function.

Restricting or cutting out entire food groups, excessive exercise, consuming pre-packaged, low-calorie meals, skipping meals in order to “save” those calories to be consumed later in the day, all focus on one thing, calories. How to keep them from entering the body, and/or how to burn off as many as possible of the ones that got in. Sound exhausting?

In order to lose just one pound, the body has to either burn off or create a deficit of 3,500 calories. That's a big number. And focusing on that number— counting, doing the math, buying low-cal packaged foods, working out like a crazy person, checking your FitBit or Apple Watch —hoping to hit those targets is work. A lot of work.

As I said earlier, you can get results doing this but for most people, it's short-lived. It’s no wonder statistics say less than one percent of people can maintain a diet for life. Honestly, diets are liars. They make promises and never deliver long-term.

Aside from the obvious stress of counting calories and the pressure to be perfect in order to achieve results, this approach doesn't address any of the six components of health – stress, sleep, water, nutrition, exercise and supplements. In fact all it does is really just create more stress, mentally from trying to be perfect and get those numbers to line up, and physically due to the lack of attention paid to creating health.

On the flip side, when we focus on building up the body and doing things that create health, making our calories count, rather than counting the calories, great things begin to happen. In fact the only time I look at calorie consumption with my clients is if they aren't eat enough. Yep, that's right. More often than not the people I work with are not eating enough. They come from that place of restriction and are afraid that if they eat more they will gain weight when in fact their bodies are not taking in enough nutrients to get the job done.

Not providing your body enough nutrients causes your body to go into starvation mode, saving and storing almost everything it does get, as fat. Once you understand this and start giving your body what it needs, it's amazing the wonderful things that begin to happen in very short order.

Choose whole, single-ingredient foods, put together in a way that stabilizes blood sugar. Drink lots of clean water, get out and move every day, reduce stress, get enough sleep so you feel rested in the morning and use quality supplements to fill the gaps in meals, nutrition and nutrients.

Repeat that daily for best results. By doing so, you’ll create healthy habits that, when maintained consistently over time, will help you to not only look and feel better, burn fat, lose weight and turn on metabolism, they will also help balance your hormones, reverse disease, increase energy, improve concentration and focus and strengthen your immune system. That’s a pretty cool list of side effects.

So, as you think about your next meal, snack, grocery shop or dinner out, focus on the food rather than the number of calories. When you buy, prepare, serve and order more whole, single-ingredient foods, your meals will naturally be higher in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre, while at the same time contain far less sugar, no additives or preservatives.

And yes, there will also be a lot fewer calories. Naturally.

If you're looking for more ways to make your calories count and take back control of your health, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes! group on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Hydration when water alone is not enough

Your body needs hydration

Your body is about 70 percent water. And because you are mostly water, it shouldn't be a surprise that every function your body does, requires and relies on adequate amounts of water in your body in order to complete that function.

According to the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Lifestyle page under Nutrition and healthy eating, water is responsible for; “regulating your body temperature, moistens the tissues in the mouth, eyes, and nose, lubricates joints, lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products, carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells, protects body organs and tissues, helps prevent constipation, and helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body.”

Not only does water play a role in the physical functioning of the body, but it's very important for our brain as well. In an article by Dr. Joshua Gowin, published in Psychology Today, Dr. Gowin writes, “Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficency.”

He goes on to note that when we're dehydrated, it's more difficult to stay focused and pay attention, short-term and long-term memory can be affected, and the ability to do mental math is compromised as well. Not to mention the poor metabolism digestion, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, headaches and irritability that often show up when you're a quart low. Headaches used to be my “tell” many years ago when I wasn't so intentional with making sure to drink water throughout the day.

A good amount would be to aim for consuming two to three litres for women and three to four litres for men everyday. Oh, and just a little FYI, when you're feeling thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

Even though most people know they should be drinking more water, one of the things I hear a lot is, people don't like the taste of water.

They drink juice, soda, coffee, tea, alcohol, throughout the day but very little water. And because all of these items are nutrient deficient and some even cause the body to get rid of water, 75 percent of people in North America are chronically dehydrated. Over time, this becomes problematic when you think of all the bodily functions constantly disrupted and stressed because of it.

Along with the majority of people suffering from chronic dehydration, many are also not getting the electrolytes they need. Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, bicarbonate found in the blood, sweat and urine.

Like water, electrolytes are also vital to certain bodily functions. Healthline posted on its website that electrolytes are, “..crucial to keeping your nervous system and muscles functioning and your internal environment balanced”.

For example, calcium is needed for muscle contraction whereas magnesium is needed for muscle extension as well as helps with digestion and elimination. Sodium, in the right amounts, helps to keep the right amount of water inside and out of the cells. Electrolytes help keep you hydrated and regulates your internal pH, another element required to be in balance so that we may have good health. Symptoms such as dizziness, muscle cramping, weakness or twitching, mental confusion, irregular heartbeat, and/or digestive issues such as cramping, constipation or diarrhea may indicate an electrolyte deficiency or imbalance.

Proper hydration and electrolyte balance are important anytime of the year, but as the weather is warming up and we're getting ready for the summer heat, it's even more important.

Here are a few things you can do to help increase your water intake and stay balanced.

• Use a water bottle that you like. Determine how many of them you'll need to drink to get in what you need everyday. It's not such a big deal if you tell yourself you need to drink three water bottles everyday, rather than 12 cups, right?

• Try replacing one caffeinated and/or sugary (this includes fruit juice) beverage with a glass of water.

• Download a water app on your phone and/or use reminders to have a drink.

• Eat water-filled foods.

• Choose whole, clean foods in a wide variety, to get more nutrients.

• Add an electrolyte packet to one or two of your water bottles everyday. The flavour itself tends to make people drink more water which is a great start.

Everyone needs electrolytes but it's especially important if you are working at a physical job, work out hard, sweat a lot, spend time outside in the heat, lay on the beach all day, have poor circulation, already experience muscle cramping, dizziness, easily distracted in your day, and/or you don't drink the amount of water you know you should be.

For more health tips and to participate in the next 21 Day Reset, go to 8 Weeks is All it Takes on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Trace minerals—What they are and why we need them

Healthy trace minerals

We've all heard that our bodies need vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy.

Most people—especially given the health concerns over the past few years—are now taking vitamins, if they weren't before. Vitamins C, D, and B are a good place to start if you're one of those who hasn't started, or didn't know where to start. But what about the minerals? Trace minerals to be precise.

Some, like iron, you likely have heard about, and may be even supplementing already. But iron's not the only one.

Trace minerals are compounds that are essential to your body's proper development and function. They are essential because your body does not produce them, you must get them from your food and/or supplementation and although small amounts are all that is needed, a lack of these important minerals can lead to a variety of health concerns.

Too much of a good thing isn't a good thing either, mind.

If you think you may be lacking in one, some or all of these nutrients, I recommend booking in with your doctor or naturopath for some blood work to see where you're at. That being said, improvements can always be made by eating a healthy, balanced, varied menu, free of processed foods and then supplementing with a good antioxidant and nitric oxide support to reduce inflammation and support better absorption of all the goodness you're putting in. After all, you're not just what you eat, you're really only what you can absorb.

So, let's look at the nine primary trace minerals deemed essential in maintaining overall health. Each individual mineral comes with its own benefits.

• Iron – It is used by the body to make hemoglobin and myoglobin to carry oxygen throughout the body and to the muscles. Look to add foods like spinach, broccoli, beets and the tops, chicken, beef, turkey, mussels, oysters, sardines, salmon, tuna, haddock, perch, beans, peas, apricots, raisins, nuts and seeds to support iron levels.

• Manganese – It supports tissue and bone health and also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Foods like mussels, brown rice, hazelnuts, chickpeas, spinach, pineapple, whole wheat bread, black tea, potatoes contain manganese.

• Molybdenum – It assists the body in breaking down amino acids and sulphites and prevents harmful toxins from building up. Eating foods like legumes, kidney/lima/navy beans, nuts, soy, dairy, leafy veggies, eggs, liver, tomatoes all contain molybdenum.

• Copper – It enables the body to make red blood cells and supports healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, heart and immune health. Organ meats, oysters, spirulina, shiitake mushrooms, nuts and seeds, lobster, leafy greens, dark chocolate, all contain come copper.

• Iodine – It is key in production of thyroid hormones, as well as proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Seaweed, cod, dairy, shrimp, tuna, eggs, prunes, lima beans, are all great choices to help get more iodine into your body.

• Zinc – It supports the immune system, helps support a healthy inflammatory response is key for growth and DNA synthesis. Foods like oysters, lamb, seeds, beef, chickpeas, lentils, cocoa powder, cashews, avocado, mushrooms, spinach, are some examples of ways to add some zinc into your day.

• Cobalt – It enables the body to make red blood cells, helps prevent infections and is essential for the formation of vitamin B12. Dark chocolate, cheese, rice, figs, fish, meat, nuts, green veggies, butter, fruit are all foods you can add in to support cobalt levels.

• Selenium – It protects again heart disease as well as some types of cancer, is antioxidant rich to assist in reducing oxidative stress which brings down inflammation, and balances hormones. Brazil nuts, seafood, lean meat, rice, eggs, oatmeal, are all things you should be incorporating in to support selenium levels in your body.

As you can see, there are a lot of foods that cross over and support more than one trace mineral. That is great news because it means by adding in some of those foods, you can target and support more minerals.

Variety and nutrient diversity is not only key to creating optimal nutrient levels, it also plays a role in creating a healthy gut as well.

For more information and support on how to create and maintain balanced nutrition, join the 8 Weeks is all it Takes group on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


You control 70 to 80 percent of factors affecting your health

One percent gets results

Most people seem to believe health diminishes with age. But does is it really?

Should we actually expect that after each birthday past a certain age to feel less energetic, less vibrant than the year before?

I'll bet most of us grew up thinking that having more birthdays was simply tantamount to looking and feeling older. Truth bomb here—if you subscribe to the belief that, with concerted effort in the right areas, you can slow down and perhaps even reverse signs of aging, and take steps in the right direction, it can happen.

From a scientific stand point there are several areas of “loss” that can happen in the body as we age. The good, or even better, news is despite what might be going on in your body, your DNA—those genes that are passed down in the family good and bad—control only 20 to 30 percent of the outcome of our health. Which means if you do the math, we actually control 70 to 80 percent.

Think about that for a minute. What you eat, the thoughts you let in your brain, the environment around you, how much water you drink, how many hours, and the quality, of sleep you get each night, how you handle stress, the supplements you take or don't take, all play a role in what that 70 to 80 percent looks like.

Let's take a look at some of the nutrients many people are deficient in and what we can do to slow down and replenish these losses.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It's found not only in your hair, skin and nails, but also in your bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, muscle, cornea, vascular system, fascia and connective tissue. Around age 35 however, collagen production slows and levels can be down by about 30 percent. Although you may begin to notice fine lines and wrinkles starting, the internal effects are much more important. Connective tissue and artery walls can become weaker and less supportive, resulting in joint stiffness, arthritis, limited mobility, and bone density may be affected, as well as seeing skin sag and bruise more easily. There may be the appearance of cellulite, and hair loss, and nails become brittle with growth is slowed for both.

Because an additional 30 percent can be lost every decade past 40, taking a collagen supplement is definitely something to consider.

Like collagen, nitric oxide is something our bodies produce less of as we age but is essential. In fact, it was given the Nobel Prize in 1998 and dubbed the “Molecule of Life” because we can't live past five seconds without it. Nitric oxide keeps blood flowing and blood flow is life.

Better blood flow means more oxygen is delivered to the body and brain, nutrients are better absorbed, inflammation is reduced and immune function is improved. Increasing those leafy greens, broccoli, garlic, citrus fruits and certain food-based supplements can help support the body in nitric oxide production.

Increased fat around the middle, low muscle tone and a decrease in strength is indicative of muscle loss, known as sarcopenia. More commonly seen in seniors, muscle loss can however, occur at any age.

Any one, or a combination of, a sedentary lifestyle, extended hospital stay, low physical activity, inflammation, stress, poor diet and low protein intake can all contribute to lost muscle. And a lower percentage of muscle mass, naturally means a higher percentage of body fat.

Body composition changes, depending on what you're doing, is either protecting muscle or storing fat. Daily exercise that incorporates weight-bearing activities, managing stress, eating a clean, balanced diet including a protein at each meal or supplementing with a quality protein shake (please, no Boost, Ensure or Glucerna) helps protect and build muscle mass.

Once affecting only the eldest of our seniors, people in their early 40s are now suffering with memory loss and conditions such as Alzheimers, dementia, and Parkinson's.

Over the last decade or so, doctors and scientists have labelled these as “lifestyle” diseases “Type-3 diabetes.”

Knowing that, along with the fact you have 70 to 80 percent control over the outcome of our health, it is prudent and necessary to do what you can on a daily basis to change your lifestyle in a way that will balance blood sugar and support/restore health to your body.

Eliminating packaged, processed and refined foods, especially sugar and artificial sweeteners, is a fabulous place to start. Replacing sodas, energy drinks, clarified juices, fancy coffee drinks etc., with lots of water, along with eating small balanced meals that include a protein, healthy fat and unprocessed carbohydrate (fruits and veggies are best) stabilizes blood sugar, creates hormonal balance, supports a healthy inflammatory response and will have you seeing noticeable improvements in short order.

Although we'd like to think we can flip a switch and change our habits overnight, it's best to choose one thing and start there. Commit to doing one percent better for your health everyday. Think of where you'll be in a year.

If you are experiencing any or all of these, please remember your current situation is likely less about the number of birthdays you've celebrated and more about the things you do, or don't do, consistently over time. And that’s great news because that means the odds are in your favour when it comes to starting to reverse those negative effects and start taking back control of your health.

For tips and programs on how to optimize your health, join 8 Weeks is All it Takes on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More FIT Talk With Tania articles

About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories