Superman’s superfoods

Superfood is on the menu today. Looking at what superfoods are and if they actually exist.

The superfood is labeled this because of its supposedly amazing affect it has on the body. From fighting off disease to burning fat they are THE foods to eat, and apparently completely backed up by science… but is this true?

When you first take a look down the list of superfoods they all look pretty good: eggs, fish, oranges, tomatoes, nuts, hot peppers, chia seeds… the list goes on. However does this really make them super? Well yes and no.

I will tackle the no first. When you actually read the studies that have looked at these foods they have tested it in a lab with very high concentrations, meaning you would have to eat  a tonne of the stuff to get the benefits.

Secondly most of the evidence (if not all) is unable to prove that it was the food that had that specific effect and so can not be fully relied upon!

Thirdly (and this one is my own opinion)  – any time I see or hear anything or anyone that says ‘eat this one thing and it will make you thinner/stronger/faster’ I immediately know they are lying! If it was that easy everyone would be doing it!

“So why yes?” I hear you ask.

Because all of the ‘superfoods’ you should be trying to eat, and you will feel better and healthier for it. Lets just not call them ‘superfoods’… they are just foods that are good for you.

Here is a list of ‘superfoods’ to try and put into your diet to mix things up.

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So one of the most important things you should know about nutrition is to do with calories. Now in this crazy world we live in there are many views about calories; should we count them? Should we ignore them? Are they even real or relevant?

I’m sure all of you have come across some kind of conflicting information about calories. I for one feel sorry for these little guys who seem to constantly being beaten up.

So what is a calorie? Well pretty simply all they are is a way of measuring the energy/fuel in food. That’s all it is -it’s just a measurement. Some genius went round with a special calorimoter and measured the energy in food.

So are calories important and do we need to know about them? Yes they are important especially in our society where we have access to any kind of fuel we want, whenever we want. Being able to understand the amount of energy/fuel we can get from different foods is important. And how overeating and under eating can affect us.

This leads us to the important rule of energy balance. Put simply if you eat more than you burn throughout the day the more weight you will gain. If you eat less the more weight you will lose.

This is the fundamental rule of nutrition! If you hear anybody tell you otherwise then please slap them! Yes I understand there are and can be other things that can affect this such as hormones, body composition… but when push comes to shove if you eat more than you burn you will gain weight!

This often leads to 2 questions:

1. So if I want to get thin I basically need to starve myself?

2. I can eat whatever I want as long as I don’t eat more calories than I burn?

The answer to the first question is NO!!! While in one sense yes you will lose weight, you will lose a lot of muscle, your metabolism will eventually grind to a halt and you will feel like crap!

The answer to the second question might be a bit more surprising but ultimately yes this is true. But if you do decide to change your diet to a chocolate only diet be prepared for the consequences: sickness, headaches, depression, constant hunger, mood swings and eventually your body will crash as your body will be deprived of vital nutrients.

So how do I know if I am eating enough?

First you need to work out your BMR and then you need to work out your level of activity on a daily basis. There are various calculations that allow you to do this but the most accurate ones are the ones that use your body fat.

Once you have got these calculations then it’s all about monitoring what you eat. Again you can do this either through the fitbit app or through myfitnesspal or just by writing it down.

Now I’m not saying you should weigh all your food out and get exact measurements and calories (if this is something you want to do then go ahead) but you should be able to know in your head how many (rough) calories a chicken breast has in it and a bowl of pasta. (The answer is 150 and 175 respectively). Knowing this information will help you plan better meals and achieve the goals that you want!

Take away points:

Calories are important to understand
Know roughly what calories you burn
Learn how many calories are in your favorite foods

– Nathaniel Soderberg, YMCA Coach