You really are what you eat…

Conventional approaches to diet and exercise have conditioned us to believe in calories-in vs. calorie-out, and that all calories are created equal. “The myth that you can out-run a bad diet partially stems from conventional calories-in-calories-out thinking,” says JJ Virgin, certified nutrition specialist and author of the Sugar Impact Diet Cookbook. “People become overweight because they eat too much and exercise too little, the theory goes, so to lose weight they should reduce calories and increase exercise.”
So many factors affect the body’s ability to utilize calories and fat storage, and the ability to convert quality calories into fuel for energy and for working-out. Hormones play a critical factor in this. As a Pilates instructor who works primarily with women, I have noticed that many women feel sensitivity around the issue of hormones, as if it is an indicator of an aging body or signals menopause. However, hormones drive the bus throughout the entirety of our lives, and we are merely in one phase or another, continually changing as there is literally no such thing as a consistency with hormone levels throughout our lifespan.
“Thinking of your body as a bank where you just cash in and check out calories neglects the fact your hormones matter most for lasting fat loss,” Virgin says. “What you eat signals hormones to store or burn fat, boost or crash metabolism, and build or break down muscle.”

So Why Can’t You Exercise Off Last Night’s Binge?

1) All Calories Are Not Created Equal….It’s not all about the number on the package…

Many people believe that calories from a high-sugar content snack will be burned off at the same rate as a high-quality protein, or sugar source from fruit or vegetables, as they are conditioned to think in terms of calories. “Sugar is the key player driving up insulin levels,” Virgin says. The result: It gets stored as fat. Whereas a leafy vegetable such as spinach would trigger other hormones like glucagon, “insulin’s sister hormone that releases fat to burn for energy.” When it comes to calories think of nutrient dense calories vs. low-calorie meals. It’s all about the quality of the calories and how well our body functions as a result of the food consumed.

So why isn’t it about calorie content? Our bodies process healthy and unhealthy foods very differently. That is, 500 calories of chocolate and 500 calories of vegetables will have different effects on our bodies, which is why calorie counting often doesn’t work as we’re focusing on calories not nutrients.

2) Exercise increases your appetite and you naturally eat more.

When you eat more low nutrient, highly-processed foods following your workouts, it will slow your metabolism and your body will fight to maintain it’s current weight….processed sugar really is the enemy here! By choosing poor foods, that are highly processed, contain refined sugars, or gluten-containing foods, you are inclined to eat more of the same types of calories that are creating the phenomenon that maintains your weight, and causes you to gain weight. However, fill your diet with foods that regulate insulin, combined with exercise,  and you will lose weight, even if you eat the calories back that you have burned during intense exercise.  Consuming high-quality, nutrient dense calories, that do not spike blood-sugar and will help regulate hormones, leads to weight loss.

3) Certain Foods Promote Fat Burning others Promote Fat Storage

Certain foods promote fat storage, such as highly-processed foods. Other foods can help you lose fat. When you eat foods that are high in protein, they provide something called a thermic effect. The thermic effect of food plays a role in stimulating your metabolism, so you actually burn calories to digest and absorb it. Sugars have a very low thermic effect, while proteins and healthy fats have much higher thermic effects. The thermic effect of food is the energy required for digestion, absorption, and disposal of ingested nutrients. Its magnitude depends on the composition of the food consumed:
• Carbohydrates: 5 to 15% of the energy consumed.
• Protein: 20 to 35%
• Fats: at most 5 to 15=

Here are examples of low-quality, junk-food and the time it takes to burn-off calories consumed…it’s much more than you think…

It’s not all about calorie content. Our bodies process healthy and unhealthy foods very differently. That is, 500 calories of chocolate and 500 calories of vegetables will have different effects on our bodies, which is why calorie counting often doesn’t work as we’re focusing on calories not nutrients.


If a chocolate bar is the only thing you indulge in for the entire day, you could probably work it off easily through some light cleaning for an hour, or a nice 45-minute walk outside. But if it’s just another drop in the bad-diet bucket, watch out.
Cleaning: 1 hour, 6 minutes
Walking: 46 minutes
Push-ups: 23 minutes
Running: 19 minutes

Like the Snickers, one bag of M&M’s likely won’t destroy your entire diet, but you’ll still need to put aside almost an hour of light activity to burn it off.
Cleaning: 1 hour, 9 minutes
Walking: 48 minutes
Push-ups: 24 minutes
Running: 20 minutes

And let’s not forget about coffee and specialty drinks…
Cleaning: 2 hours
Walking: 1 hour, 24 minutes
Push-ups: 42 minutes
Running: 35 minutes


For more information on healthy eating choices, proper meal-planning for optimal energy and weight-loss contact the studio.  Health Coaching is one of the many ways the studio supports clients in having a healthy mind, body and lifestyle. Health coaching may be conducted on as needed basis or as part of an on-going health and weight-loss program.

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