Real Men Don’t Count Calories

Once I had decided to change my lifestyle and my food, I did exactly what most people do. I started counting the calories of the foods that I was eating. For convenience sake and for ease of tracking, I decided to start tracking my foods with an app that would automatically count the calories for me. I could also track my exercises and movements, showing I was consuming my allowed 1600-1800 calories daily. This is a very common method I’m sure many of you have either begun or do regularly.

While tracking using the app, I noticed a few things:

  1. I would read more food labels and determine the size of a portion and the number of calories – GOOD THING
  2. It was easier to purchase foods with a UPC symbol so I could just scan the barcode and input the data into my app – EASY THING
  3. I did not care at all about the ingredients – BAD THING
  4. I did not look at the nutritional values – BAD THING

This was the first step in my progression to good foods – I was actually becoming aware and mindful of what I was eating. The problem however, is that I fell into the trap of ease and convenience in food tracking. I became focused on a few numbers – the number on the scale, the number of calories I was consuming, the number of calories I was burning. The numbers became an obsession. I would constantly ask myself how many calories did I burn during the last squash game, and how many calories were in that handful of crackers and cheese.

What I didn’t realize (until much later) is that the NUMBERS don’t matter. What matters is the SOURCE of the calories.

We have all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” I never fully understood this until one of my ah-ha moments. What we eat will eventually become our cellular make up.

Where do you get your Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Good Fat and your Protein from?

  • The Calcium that builds up your bones and maintains cellular function?
  • The Potassium that circulates to maintain electrical balance and heart function?
  • The Vitamins that fight infections, and maintain a state of homeostasis of your electrolytes?
  • The Fat that maintains the Schwann Cells in your neurons, ensuring your brain functions correctly?
  • The Proteins that make up all of your skeletal and cardiac muscle as well as the proteins that sit on the surface of EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY to ensure they react correctly to hormonal signals?

Once I realized that I truly am what I eat, my life changed – If I wanted to become healthy, I had to eat healthy. A FUNCTIONAL, CLEAN body comes from eating good CLEAN REAL FOOD.

I believe that we have evolved to live on this planet for a reason and that all of the sources of food that we require have evolved in the same way. This is why I now strive to avoid foods that have been processed in any way, shape or form, grown through mass agricultural means, or sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides and herbicides.

I now no longer look at the calories on nutritional labels, I will now only look at the ingredients. I choose to eat real food, food that has come from the ground or an animal that has eaten food that grows naturally. 

The following are my rules for grocery shopping:

  • If it has an expiry date that is more than 10 days, I will not even look at it.
  • If it is green and leafy, it is allowed.
  • If it grew in the ground and was not processed at all, generally it is allowed (too much starch is not good).
  • If it comes in a package, it can’t have any ingredients that I don’t know.
  • More than 3-5 ingredients is a red flag (unless it’s a healthy trail mix with multiple natural ingredients like nuts and seeds).
  • Chicken is free range, hormone and antibiotic free.
  • Beef is grass-fed, free of hormones and antibiotics.
    • Grass-fed beef is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids (more to come on this later).
  • Fish are ideally wild, not farmed.
    • Did you know that farmed fish often have chicken pellets in their feed… since when do salmon eat chicken in the food chain

Counting calories gave me a glimpse into becoming mindful of what I was eating, however it stopped me from becoming aware of the CONTENTS of my food intake.

Feel free to count calories if it’s working for you, but be very careful to not get pulled into the obsession of numbers. Your WEIGHT IS ONLY A SINGLE MEASURE OF YOUR HEALTH – IT IS NOT THE FINAL DETERMINANT. Health issues can also occur in people who have their weight under control, the key is to find a balance – balance your stress, balance your time, balance your food and your body will do the rest.

Real Men don’t count calories, they JUST EAT REAL FOOD.

Health Benefits of Hydration

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: Benefits of Hydration

We have all heard the rule – Eight glasses of water per day. Why is it so important that our bodies have enough water? What functions does water perform to help us survive and thrive?

Without water, nothing lives. This is why when NASA recently found potential traces of water on Mars, they were ecstatic as it meant that with the presence of water, life is possible. Back on earth, we are lucky to have an abundance of this resource which we are clearly taking for granted.

1. Water gives our cells their structure

Water is the main bonding adhesive component of in the structure of the cells. The cellular membrane is aligned around the presence of a specific amount of water. Too much or too little water will cause the membranes of cells to collapse or burst, therefore making them useless.

2. Water transports Energy, Nutrients and Waste

H2O is a major component of our blood. Blood is the bodies chosen transportation method for energy (from the breakdown of food) and nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) to reach all of the cells of the body. Once the energy and nutrients are sent to all of these cells, the blood then transports any cellular waste to the kidneys, liver and spleen for detoxification and removal from the body. A proper balance of water is required in order to allow for nutrients, and waste to dissolve into it, so that it can be moved from organ to organ, allowing our entire body system to function optimally.

3. Water is required for signalling between cells

Signals can be sent between cells in our body, in multiple different ways. The cells that make up our Nerves (Neurons) signal between each other and with other organs (muscles, heart, lungs, digestive organs) using Neurotransmitters, which are small proteins formed with the direct input of water. Another method of cellular signalling is by Hormones. Hormones are formed in various glands and organs of the body (hypothalamus, thyroid, adrenal glands etc.) and are transported through the bloodstream to their target cells. Without water, cellular signalling and communication would be impossible.

4. Water is required for proper Digestion

Without a correct amount of water in our diet, the foods that we eat cannot be moved through the digestive tract at the correct pace. If there is too much water, often the foods that we eat will travel too quickly through the tract, and not be absorbed correctly. This can also lead to Diarrhea. If there is not enough water, food will move very slowly and can become dry and clumpy, leading to potential Constipation. A proper balance of intake and absorption of water through our intestines is required to make food move through the digestive tract.

Great, so now that we know that we need a proper balance of water in our bodies, how can we achieve it?

Water is absorbed into the body in the large intestine, however much of our food intake has a high composition of water. Those who eat a diet higher in fruits and vegetables do not need to drink as much water daily as people who have a diet higher in fat, protein and processed carbohydrates.

Fruits and Vegetables with high water content by volume

  • 96% = Lettuce, Cucumber
  • 95% = Zucchini, Radish, Celery
  • 94% = Tomato
  • 93% = Green Cabbage
  • 92% = Watermelon, Strawberries, Cauliflower, Eggplant, red cabbage, peppers, spinach
  • 91% = Grapefuit, Broccoli

Dehydration and overhydration are not issues to take lightly as the effects can be far reaching. It is important to consume a safe amount of water daily of between 6-8 glasses per day – and ideally that water comes from a filtered source. Plastic bottles are not good for the environment, nor are the contents of the bottles safe for repeated use by humans. Much of our water has been contaminated with herbicides, pesticides and chemicals that are used in various industries around the world. Many of these chemicals can have negative effects on our body function. Our municipal water treatment plants are good, but definitely are not getting 100% of the potentially harmful substances out of our water so it is important to filter your water before you drink it.

Most people should drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water, in a glass or metal (bpa free) container daily. If you are highly active or work in higher temperatures, more water is needed to keep you cool and functioning correctly. If you eat a cleaner, greener diet, you may not need to drink as much water as others. If you suffer from a medical condition or are taking any medications, please speak to your physician or pharmacist before changing your water intake.