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Is Calories In, Calories Out the Key to Losing Weight?

weight loss, apple, nutrition, orange, calorieIf you have ever tried to lose weight, then you probably have been told to track your calories. Most calorie trackers focus on keeping track of the calories you consume through food.  On the other hand, fitness trackers or workout machines may track how many calories you burn during the day. However, is there more to the story of weight loss, or is calories in and calories out the only key to success?  A recent report by health experts reveal that there may be more than simple math in the weight loss equation.

What are is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy that is found in food and beverages. The four major macronutrients that consist of calories include:

  • protein at 4 calories per gram
  • carbohydrate at around 4 calories per gram
  • fat at 7 calories per gram
  • alcohol at 9 calories per gram

Whatever calories you consume that are not used as energy are stored in the body as fat. In simple terms, you may lose fat stores if you consume less calories than you burn.  Calories can be burned by physical activity, but calorie expenditure may also increase in those who are growing, injured, or ill.  This is because your body will need more energy to support such processes that involve cell reproduction and other related processes.

Are some calories healthier than others?

Not all calories are created equal. The recent report reveals a growing trend of people focusing solely on the number of calories in and calories out, rather than the quality of calories consumed. Although this may lead to a calorie deficit, and in turn weight loss, it is not necessarily healthy.

For example, a piece of candy and an apple may both contain 100 calories. However, the candy mostly contains empty calories because they contain little to no nutritional value. The calories in the candy are mainly from simple carbohydrates like sugar as well as fat.  However, in the apple, those same calories contain many nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Therefore, the calories from the apple will provide your body with more health benefits than the candy.

Weighing in on the “Calories In, Calories Out” equation

The latest diet craze known as CICO (Calories In, Calories Out), may lead to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies according to experts. If you are not looking at the nutrient quality of the calories you consume, then you may increase your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, to name a few. In addition, if you restrict yourself of too many calories, then you may develop fatigue and malnutrition, which does your body more harm than good. Contact a registered dietitian to help you determine how many calories you need to support your lifestyle, while still helping you to lose any excess weight.

How to Work on Weight Loss

There is no one size fits all plan to help everyone lose weight. However, there are several things you can do today to get on the right track towards healthy weight loss and maintenance.

  • Watch your portion sizes at meals and snacks. A simple way to determine how much food you need to eat at each meal involves your protein and fiber needs. Most adults should consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day through whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Your protein needs, in grams, can be determined by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.75.  Once you determine your fiber and protein needs, use a nutrition tracker to ensure you meet these needs with mostly whole foods, or foods that are minimally processed.  Also, chew your food more per bite, slow your pace of eating to 20-25 minutes per meal, and be mindful of the food choices you make by looking at nutrition labels before you make food purchases.
  • Stay active most days of the week.  Balance out each week with cardiovascular and resistance exercises. Cardio exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, or biking. These exercises work to increase calorie burn. Resistance exercises, on the other hand, such as lifting weights, doing push-ups, or using resistance bands, help to maintain lean muscle mass. Maintaining your muscle mass as you lose weight helps you to maintain calorie-burning power, also known as metabolism.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Weight loss may be more difficult for those who do not sleep well.  This is because lack of sleep can disrupt the hormones that control hunger and appetite. Try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping due to visiting the bathroom regularly, stop drinking fluids at least 2 hours before bedtime.  If pain is keeping you up, visit your doctor to get support.  If you are not sure what is causing your restless sleep, you may have sleep apnea. You can ask your doctor about getting a sleep study done to determine the cause of your sleepless nights.
  • Visit your doctor if diet and exercise are not leading to weight loss. If calories in and calories out are leading to weight plateaus or gains, then there may be an underlying health issue. Research has shown that some people who have a family history of obesity may have a harder time losing weight than those that don’t. This could be due to:
    • genetic factors.
    • increased risk of conditions like hypothyroidism or insulin resistance.
    • environmental factors such as growing up without knowledge of healthy eating behaviors.
  • Fill in your nutrient gaps with vitamins and supplements. At the very least, take a multivitamin such as Zestia by VitaSciences. Zestia contains a blend of Super Food extracts, probiotics, and digestive enzymes helps to support optimal health. If you live in a climate with little sunlight, you may also need to add a vitamin D3 supplement to your daily routine.  Low vitamin D levels can affect many aspects of health such as bone and immune health, to name a few.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (November 16, 2016) “Finding a Balance” 

Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (May 2014) “Eating fiber-rich foods helps keep the heart healthy”

Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (updated April 11, 2017) “Why People Become Overweight” 

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (accessed November 27, 2017) “Protein”

Medline Health News (November 22, 2017) “It’s the Latest Diet Craze, But Is It Safe?”

Medline Plus (accessed November 28, 2017) “Vitamin D” 

 

 

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How to watch for Vitamin Deficiency: This is what happens

What are the signs of vitamin deficiency? The symptoms of low vitamin and mineral levels can wreak havoc on your entire body. Fatigue, brain fog, muscle pain and insomnia are just a few vitamin deficiency symptoms that go unnoticed, and undiagnosed. Listed are some of the most common clues to watch for.

vitamin deficiency symptoms list

Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms: the Complete List

If you suspect you have vitamin deficiency, then speak to a doctor immediately. Signs of vitamin deficiency anemia may require emergency vitamin supplementation.

Listed are 13 essential vitamins and minerals that you need for daily health, plus symptoms that may signal a deficiency.

1) Vitamin A (Retinol)

Food sources: Yams, beef liver, spinach, carrots, and pumpkin.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Color-blindness, conjunctivitis, dry eyes, Bitot’s spots, farsightedness, corneal ulcers, ichthyosis (scaly skin), macular degeneration, photophobia, night blindness, keratosis, dry hair, ridged nails, peeling nails, acne, skin infections, jaundice, shingles, and wrinkles.

2) Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Food sources: Mushrooms, sunflower seeds, tuna, and broccoli.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, nerve damage, heart palpitations, mental confusion, depression, dementia, forgetfulness, nervous irritability, Beriberi disease, crossed eyes, dim vision, glaucoma, Raynaud’s disease, sensitivity to insect bites, furrowed tongue, Addison’s disease, fungal infections, itching, white patches on tongue.

3) Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Food sources: Liver, mushrooms, spinach, and dark green vegetables.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Loss of appetite, nerve damage, depression, nervous irritability, increased homocysteine levels (heart attack and stroke risk), blurred vision, cataracts, conjunctivitis, dim vision, glaucoma, retinitis, corneal ulcers, macular degeneration, night blindness, photophobia, eyelid tics, acne, Addison’s disease, eczema, fungal infections, seborrhea, itching, white-heads, rosacea, eczema around nose and ears, dandruff, oily hair, sore tongue, cracked lips at corners of the mouth, purplish or magenta tongue, white patches on tongue.

4) Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Food sources: Brown rice, tuna, mushrooms, liver, beans, and lean meat.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, mental confusion, depression, dementia, nervous irritability, diarrhea, acne, Addison’s disease, fungal infections, itching, reddish-brown skin on neck, white patches on tongue.

5) Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxal phosphate)

Food sources: Bananas, bell peppers, potato skins, garbanzo beans, prune juice, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Chronic fatigue, depression, nervous irritability, increased homocysteine levels (heart attack and stroke risk), numbness in the hands and feet, blurred vision, conjunctivitis, dark spots in front of the eyes, retinitis, corneal ulcers, macular degeneration, night blindness, eyelid tics, acne, Addison’s disease, eczema, edema, fungal infections, dermatitis around eyes and nose, skin infections, itching, jaundice, pale skin, vitiligo, dandruff, hair loss, white spots on nails, sore tongue, cracked lips at corners of the mouth, bad breath, canker sores, white patches on tongue.

6) Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)

Food sources: Organ meat, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, beets, and cauliflower.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Mental confusion, depression, dementia, forgetfulness, nervous irritability, insomnia, aggression, cervical dysplasia, megaloblastic anemia, increased homocysteine levels (heart attack and stroke risk), nerve damage, failure to thrive, low birth weight, neural tube defects, breathlessness, heart palpitations, pale skin, reddish-brown skin on neck, graying hair, hangnails, cracked lips at corners of the mouth, canker sores, beefy, red tongue, gingivitis.

7) Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Food sources: Organ meats, cod, halibut, salmon, shellfish, lean meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, nerve damage, painful tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, loss of balance, movement problems, heart palpitations, breathlessness, mental confusion, hallucinations, depression, memory loss, dementia, forgetfulness, nervous irritability, increased homocysteine levels (heart attack and stroke risk), diarrhea, dim vision, retinitis, eyelid tics, miscarriages, fertility problems, Addison’s disease, brown pigmentation around small joints, fungal infections, itching, jaundice, pale skin, shingles, vitiligo, hair loss, sore tongue, beefy, red tongue, canker sores, white patches on tongue, altered sense of taste.

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8) Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Food sources: Guava, papayas, strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, cataracts, conjunctivitis, crossed eyes, dark spots in front of the eyes, dim vision, glaucoma, retinitis, corneal ulcers, near-nearsightedness, acne, Addison’s disease, eczema, edema, skin infections, itching, jaundice, prickly-heat rash, shingles, wrinkles, hangnails, peeling nails, gingivitis.

9) Vitamin D

Food sources: Salmon, sardines, shrimp, fish oil, yams, and dairy products fortified with vitamin D.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Nervous irritability, near-sightedness, increased risk for diabetes, rickets, skeletal deformities, muscular weakness, soft bones, muscular pain (especially lower back pain), frequent bone fractures, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, hypocalcemia, muscle twitches, numbness in the hands and feet, irregular heartbeat.

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10) Vitamin E

Food sources: Vegetable oils, wheat germ oil, dark green leafy vegetables, avocadoes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Loss of appetite, nausea, anemia, immune system disorders, angina, muscular pain, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, movement problems, miscarriages, fertility problems, bulging eyes, cataracts, crossed eyes, near-sightedness, acne, jaundice, shingles, wrinkles.

11) Calcium

Food sources: Yogurt, cheese, sardines, canned salmon, milk, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms:Osteoporosis, hypocalcemia, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, muscular pain, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, loss of appetite, frequent bone fractures, peeling nails, ridged nails, gingivitis.

12) Magnesium

Food sources: Wheat bran, almonds, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, beans, and seeds.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, muscular pain, mood swings, irregular heartbeat, hypocalcemia, farsightedness, glaucoma, retinitis, macular degeneration, eyelid tics, Addison’s disease, edema, skin infections, jaundice, dandruff, bad breath.

13) Zinc

Food sources: Oysters, crab, lobsters, beef, poultry, and fortified cereals.

Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Diarrhea, immune system disorders, failure to thrive, poor concentration, dark spots in front of the eyes, retinitis, corneal ulcers, macular degeneration, night blindness, eyelid tics, acne, eczema, edema, dermatitis around eyes and nose, skin infections, jaundice, vitiligo, dandruff, dry and brittle hair, hair loss, white spots on nails, bad breath, canker sores.

Image by Mike Mozart, Flickr, CC license. Vita Sciences does not own this property.

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