Every single calorie affects our body differently.
Calories from the yolk of an egg will help our body in producing and releasing hormones.
That exact same amount of calories from carbs will cause insulin to be released into our blood signalling the body to store the energy (in muscle or fat cells).
On paper, it may equal the same amount of calories. But, the effect they have on our bodies is vastly different.
Now, imagine this with processed food compounded over time. Processed food does not benefit us, it only hinders us.
You may eat a small number of calories from processed food as your daily intake.
And because you aren’t putting on weight, assume that it’s no different to eating that same amount of calories as natural produce (vegetables, fruit).
How those calories will affect your body will be at totally opposite ends of the scale.
Over time eating the same amount of calories from processed foods instead of natural food will have a negative impact on health.
And hugely hinder the ability to be able to transform your body and mind:
Calories in are NOT calories out.
Tracking your calories isn’t just helpful for looking at the numbers.
MyFitness Pal also shows if you are hitting your daily nutrient requirements such as iron, fiber, healthy fats, potassium etc.
When used to analyse this, it becomes a nutritional food diary of data.
This can be insightful for many reasons and you can often figure out why you’re lacking in energy, struggling to digest food and feeling bloated, feeling anxious and on edge…
by observing the macronutrient data from MyFitnessPal.
We’re all scientists and the more data we have about our body and how it responds, the more we can refine it to optimise.
I was eating healthy but had no energy and was constantly bloated
It didn’t make sense?!
Here’s a beneficial example of using ‘counting calories’ and MyFitnessPal as a food diary for data and reflection.
By now, if you’ve read through my nutrition articles, you’ve probably realised I LOVE OATS.
I enjoy eating a high amount of carbs to fuel my body and I enjoy eating most of those carbs in the morning (8 am – 1 pm).
At one point, after a 1-month diet with very little carb intake, I began using oats as my main carb source to introduce back into my reverse diet stage, little by little.
Everything started off fine, but after a couple of weeks, I was constantly getting bloated as I increased the number of oats I ate daily.
My gut seemed to be really struggling to digest food throughout the day.
MY gas levels were very bad. Eventually:
- I began to get really lethargic.
- My energy levels dropped.
- Workouts became a struggle and not an enjoyment.
- My mood changed. I was easily anxious and agitated due to this constant feeling of unease in my stomach.
I couldn’t understand it.
I was eating lots of vegetables, loved the food I was eating and I was not eating any processed foods.
So, I initially thought it must be some sort of veg disagreement from my lunch, as the gas and bloatedness always seemed to begin after lunch.
I must be eating too much cauliflower. I removed that and carried on. Still no improvement.
Then beetroot, then cabbage, then cinnamon, then cacao powder.
It wasn’t any of these things when I removed them from my diet.
So I fasted for 24 hours thinking I must have bad bacteria stuck in my gut that’s causing the problem.
This worked, for a few days, then the problem came flooding back once I started eating the same food again.
This went on for 3-4 weeks of experimenting, trying to find the problem by way of deduction.
Then, one night lying in bed, I thought…
“Instead of looking at the foods I’m eating, maybe I should look at the macronutrients (iron, fiber, vitamins etc) that those foods are delivering.“
So instead of just glancing at the daily nutrition profile section on MyFitnessPal.
I actually looked line by line at each one in detail to reflect upon. And BOOM!
There was the problem so gleamingly obvious:
MY fiber was 45 grams over the recommended daily intake
- Recommended daily fiber intake = 38g
- My daily fiber intake = 80g+
I’d skipped over it so many times with the casual assumption of “you can never have too much of a good thing.”.
This was 101 basic nutrition I was doing incorrectly. Too much fiber causes havoc with our gut.
Our gut is our second brain (remember the beginner module 2: nutrition deep dive on this?!).
If your gut is not functioning optimally, neither will our whole body.
Where was all this fiber coming from?…
MY BELOVED OATS!
I was eating so many oats, that my fiber intake was huge.
And it made sense that the problem began after lunch because I have a lot of veg at lunch.
The fiber from the veg on top of the huge amount of fiber from all the oats I was ingesting in the morning, was the perfect storm for digestive issues.
I reduced my oat intake down to a more moderate level and instead turned to bananas and rice flour as alternate carbs sources.
They have low amounts of fiber as a macronutrient.
I got my daily fiber intake down to 40g. After 72 hours of making this change, I felt like a new human!
Energy levels were back sky high, no gas and no anxious, irritable feelings.
I would not have solved that without looking at MyFitnessPal as a source of nutrient data.
So, I’d recommend not seeing counting calories as something ‘you don’t do’.
In the grand scheme of things, it can be highly beneficial and we may be able to solve something that’s been affecting you long term, by looking at the data from that source.
Let’s get to it!