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Why a Calorie is Not a Calorie

Monday, August 19, 2013

Or I could call this blog “Justifying My Red Robin Experience ( wp.me/s1N36Q-yummm )” – beyond pointing to the fact I did Bodyworks AND Yoga class on Sunday and ran 7.5 miles on Saturday.

When I began my weight loss journey years ago, I paid attention to one thing – calories in must not exceed calories out. I didn’t look at carbs vs. fat vs. protein, didn’t think there was such a thing as not eating enough, and even thought going vegetarian would help me break through a weight loss plateau.

Where the heck was I getting my nutrition education from? I don’t think I’m alone here though – we’re all told that a calorie is a calorie no matter when/how you eat it.

I went back to meat and have been paying attention to minimum calorie intake for a few years now. But I didn’t realize that macronutrients matter until very recently. As this article from Mark’s Daily Apple puts it ( www.marksdailyapple.com/
), “the human body uses macronutrients for a variety of different functions, some of which are structural and some of which are simply to provide energy.” At the risk of oversimplifying what I read in this article, here’s the deal on the functions each of these macronutrients perform:

- Proteins repair the body
- Fats provide energy
- Carbs provide energy

The difference between fats and carbs? Carbs trigger insulin which we know results in fat storage ( wp.me/p1N36Q-cy ). Fats not so much.

Still… even though the burger was only 8 grams of carbs, the 71 grams of fat is a bit more than I’m comfortable with. And I ate french fries. So much for a “Low Carb” meal. And Red Robin wasn’t my only meal for the day (I had eggs for breakfast). On a positive note, I found it easy not to binge after eating such heavy food for the day.

It got me thinking about the average individual who doesn’t struggle with binge eating and otherwise hasn’t felt compelled to go out and seek nutrition information online. There is no way they know how bad these meals can be, can they? It’s almost criminal for restaurants to make food like this. How many people are going to Red Robin and ordering an appetizer and/or dessert in addition to their Royal Red Robin burger? Drinking a soda or raspberry limeade or an alcoholic beverage? And then are they eating normal breakfasts and lunches as well? I consider myself fairly “enlightened” as of late – yet it took another friendly reader to point out to me that the mayo on the burger contributes 220 calories and 20 grams of fat! Totally unnecessary IMHO.

I see a lot of parallels between the restaurant industry and the financial industry in which I work. There’s a lot of pressure placed on school systems, employers, and other institutions to provide financial knowledge and education to their various stakeholders – why isn’t the same pressure applied to providing nutrition education?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for the supportive comments! Glad to know I'm not the only one that feels this way.

    Unrelated note - I just found the "SparkGoodies" section on my spark page and see people have occasionally been leaving me stuff there. I had no idea that existed until today - sorry for not recognizing it before!! And thanks for the goodies and kind notes!
    1737 days ago
    Ignorance is all around us- so is being narrow minded. All we can do is continue to spread the word and hopefully when some of them get sick, have an incident etc. and turn to the net for information, the info the LCer's provide will hit home and they will then see the light.

    I could go on but at the risk of being inflamatory, I'll stop emoticon
    1737 days ago
    Well said!
    In this age of information and connectivity, so often our "trusted institutions" shirk real teaching responsibility in favor of smaller interests, and justify it because anyone can learn anything if they dig deep enough on the internet. Especially when it comes to food and finances, there is lots of information in the world, and what is right vs. what is garbage can be hard to sift through for even the most savvy individuals.
    It would be so refreshing to see the creators of consumer goods take a hard look at their creations and try to do what is best for the person accepting it, and not just what is good for the bottom line.
    1737 days ago
    Ugh. I work in the purchasing department of a large corporation and my colleagues are generally all college-educated. Yet the ignorance I hear them spout about what they're putting in their bodies is absolutely staggering.

    Unfortunately, until the organizations that these folks respect and trust start giving the correct information out, things won't get much better. The USDA, AMA, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association... the list goes on and on. So much misinformation it will take decades to realign peoples' real understanding of what their food is doing to them.
    1738 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/19/2013 11:18:22 PM
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