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Weight loss or nutrition...a chicken vs egg self-discussion.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I have this habit, I am really good at internal dialog. I carry on silent conversations with myself ALL THE TIME. Does anyone else do this? Yes, you could say I talk to myself and I often answer too. Coworkers got used to this internal dialog occasionally leaking out. Husband occasionally asks "what" when I accidentally turn up the volume on my internal dialog. I think it is a skill that makes me a decent writer. I can play out the conversations of my characters in my head before they ever hit the paper, or computer screen, as the case may be.

What sometimes happens, though, is that I get stuck on something that really gets me going. I start a vigorous dialog with my self that sometimes needs a better outlet than my own brain and that's when a blog is born. Yep, you get my overflow-lol.

So, I was searching and reading info earlier about chia seeds. Yes, the chia pet stuff. Turns out that what you spread on the clay head would be edible, but it isn't the's been treated and it's made up of the worst of the chia...the junk food of chia if you DO NOT snack on your chia pet, but you COULD use regular chia instead of the stuff in the packet and actually grow edible chia sprouts and snack off your Homer Simpson head if that was something you really wanted to do.

Chia has gotten TONS of press the last few years, most of it putting it into the Super Food category, with good reason. These tiny seeds are PACKED with nutrients, good fats, protein and fiber. These are not your average seed. Indeed, they are an ancient super food, fueling an entire group of super fit runners (the stories don't tell you that cacao leaves also played a big part, but whatever, chia is the lead star here and demands top billing I guess). Chia has also enjoyed a bout with fame as a weight loss tool. I wasn't looking at them for this purpose, which is good, because it isn't what they excel at. I was looking at them as a fuel. Specifically for running, but primarily for their nutrient value. Which is why, when I stumbled upon a blog, I got into a self dialog that brought me here.

The blog is on SP, it is several months old and I didn't know the person and didn't save the blog and I won't name the blog. All that is not important. The author was looking for the magic bullet of weight loss and saw an article that led her to investigate and then discard chia seeds as an option. This is why....I should quote this part but I won't, you'll just have to trust me when I say that the author wrote that ALL CHIA DOES IS GIVE US NUTRIENTS. She discarded the idea of using chia because of their HIGH CALORIE content (137 calories per two tablespoons) and it wasn't the "magic weight loss bullet" she was looking for.

Want to hear what part of this internal discussion went like? "Wait, what? All they give is nutrients? Isn't it all about nutrients?" "Is 137 calories high enough to ditch a nutrient rich food?" "If calorie count is king then I can see why bars, shakes, etc are so popular and why people opt for surgery." And then I thought something mildly unkind and tried to squash that because I'm working on squashing the sometimes mildly unkind thoughts that I have.

I really had to think about which is more important, calories or nutrients? If I'm all about the weight loss, which I'm not, it is VERY important, but more important is health. I could cut all calories and live off almost nothing and lose weight AND my health. So which is more important? Nutrients or calories? If a nutrient rich food is high in calories, and I don't think 137 calories is all that high, would you choose it over a lower cal food without nutrients?

It seems so cut and dried at first, right, but think about this. Aren't there times we do just that? Pass on the nutrient rich food because it has higher calories and choose a lower cal food that is not as healthy? I hope as I investigate my diet for this phenomenon that I find that I don't do it as much as I think I do, but I suspect I do it far more than I am aware.

137 calories for a serving of chia seeds is TOTALLY doable. I've never used chia before, but I'm already planning on adding it to oatmeal, salads and smoothies. 2 tablespoons is a serving, a large serving, you could use a 1 tablespoon serving and still give food a punch of nutrients. Adding 137 calories for 11 grams of fiber is SUCH a bargain. Add to that 4 grams of Protein and the deal gets SO MUCH better. Add to all that the calcium, iron and omega-3 fats found in Chia and that 137 calories just became the nutritive steal of the century. Which is why they are getting so much hype.

Which is more important? Nutritive value or caloric value? If you had to go over your calories for the day to get enough nutrients, would you? Thank goodness we don't have to make that choice. By choosing nutrient rich foods over high calorie, nutrient empty foods we should do just fine each day. Whole fruits and vegis, nutrient rich protein sources (whatever that means to you, whether it's chicken, tuna or tofu), chia seeds, other nuts and seeds, all have a place in our diet. I'm not going to write off a nutrient rich food simply because it might have more calories than I think it should. I'm FINALLY learning, after all this time, that it isn't the calories, it's the SOURCE of the calories that makes a difference. I could eat one bite of a practically nutrient empty fast food hamburger or two tablespoons of high fiber, high nutrient chia seeds for the same caloric value.

I am FINALLY learning that my caloric cash is just as valuable as my U.S. currency cash. It's all in how you spend it. By being wise one needn't choose the chicken or the egg. We can find that both can be the answer. You can have nutritive value AND weight loss if you spend your nutritive cash the right way. Just because a "miracle food" doesn't actually help you lose weight, doesn't mean that it doesn't have a place in your weight loss regimen. I'm not ready to discard nutritive foods because they don't help me lose weight. At the end of the last school year, my daughter's first grade teacher hatched chickens in the classroom. The kids LOVED this activity and daughter spent a WEEK questioning us "which came first, the chicken or the egg." My personal argument is that the chicken had to come first so that she could sit on the eggs and hatch them. Without a mama chicken eggs won't hatch (given that modern interventions weren't available for the first chicken). So, if the chicken comes first, I'd have to say that nutrition must come first. Without the chicken (good nutrition) there is no hope for the egg (weight loss) to survive. It's all about how the caloric/nutritive value is balanced. While there is no magic bullet, we can and should make sure we are getting all the nutritive bang for our buck we can. Nutrients make our bodies healthy. It's all about the health, weight loss is the positive side effect of good nutrition. Right? This is how far my internal dialog got before it started flowing over into this post.

What are your thought on nutritive value vs. caloric value? Would you discard a High nutritive food if the calories were too high? I don't mean just to another day...forever, this food is off your list because of the's a perfect example...avocados. High in fat, high in calorie, but packs a nutritive punch and all the fats are the "right" kind. I know people who say they can't eat avocado because of the fat and calories. I, personally, make room because I like them and they do have some great nutrient value. What's your opinion?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    having just read another dieting article, now it isn't just what you eat it's when you eat, two groups were given the same foods to eat but one group did the 'eat like a king for breakfast, queen for lunch and pauper for dinner' method and the other group ate randomly but still the same foods and caloric totals and guess what happened, the king, queen, pauper group lost more weight just by eating that way. so I say splurge anyway and go for the most nutrition, your bones and tissues might need that edge someday
    1706 days ago
    Boy you came up with some great thinking and discussion points here! Yep, avocados were exactly what came to my mind while reading.

    This is a real epiphany here - glad you had it! I guess I've probably been doing it already without actually making the connection, but I do that a lot with drinks - do I really want to spend my calories on a drink? If it is yes, then fine. But most of the time it is no.

    So to answer your question - no I would not remove a calorie dense food if it was high in nutrition. I would just try to find ways to incorporate it on a sometimes basis.

    And finally - the chicken came first. :-)
    1707 days ago
    I don't think 137 calories is bad at all! I'll have to check into that, thanks!
    1707 days ago
    Avocados were the first thing I thought of and (for now) I'm eating them very rarely. But I expect to eat them more often when I move into maintenance.
    1707 days ago
    I love this blog! I agree with you that nutrients are fr more important than calories. If the simple notion that, calories in vs. calories out provided weight loss, more people would lose weight. It's much more complex and individual than that. How often do spark blogs say, "I'm in range! What am I doing wrong?" There needs to be a focus on where our calories are coming from. Not only for immediate health, but long term. I'd rather eat higher calorie, nutrient dense, disease fighting foods than processed low calorie junk that may contribute to illness.
    1708 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I agree with CAZ...and she should KNOW! She's been maintaining for a LONG time!
    1708 days ago
    You make me laugh, yes I have a dialog all the time. I would hate for someone close to me have the super power of reading minds because mine would fill up their head constantly.

    I love chia seed during the summer months because it is a great electrolyte. I make granola bars and add it to it for my summer breakfast before a run.
    1708 days ago
    It's all about balance, a good mix of high quality fresh fruit and veg, good quality meat or fish and whole grains. Plan and simple good fuel in, healthy body!
    Keep within you calorie range "most of the time" and you have it made!

    And of course keeping active! emoticon
    1709 days ago
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