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A look at real food, pound for pound

What if you ate 18 apples today – just for lunch? A little bit crazy? Yes but check a typical fast food value meal has the same amount of calories as 18 apples. What does this tell you? Well, it tells you that Mother Nature has got your back.

You see, here’s the deal.

• Real food regulates appetite – so you don’t overeat.



• Real food controls blood sugar/insulin – so you can avoid energy swings and diabetes.

• Real food provides the best nutrition – so you can remain healthy for life.




• Real food has a right amount of energy – so that you don’t accidentally overeat.

• Real food has a longstanding relationship with your body so your body knows what to do with it.

Energy density

Energy density is the amount of energy (calories) per unit (amount) of food. For example 200 hundred calories of celery is a much larger amount of food than 200 calories of bagel. The images to the right show the actual portion sizes of 200 calories of various foods.

Celery = Bagels Apples = Candy Bar

If you eat more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff you can actually eat more food but fewer calories. It’s hard to rack up excess calories from wholesome, real foods but quite easy to over do it with heavily processed foods.

Food poundage

Interestingly, research shows that most humans eat around three to five pounds of food per day. Indeed, as we approach four pounds of food intake for the day, most of us are feeling pretty satisfied. Now, this can be four pounds of celery. Or it can be four pounds of cookies. It’s not the food or calorie content that matters most. It’s the volume/poundage that counts. And obviously, there are some big nutrient differences between celery and candy bars.

Let’s take a look at some examples of this:

• 4 pounds of raw veggies will provide 400 calories

• 4 pounds of raw fruits will provide 1,000 calories

• 4 pounds of cooked whole grains/beans provides 1,600 calories

• 4 pounds of nuts/seeds provides about 10,000 calories

• 4 pounds of Lucky Charms, Pop Tarts, Cheese provides about 10,000 calories.

People that struggle with weight loss often tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later in the form of body fat. If you eat four pounds of energy-controlled, unprocessed food then you get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that your body can handle.

So what’s our poundage portion in America? Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

• 2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs

• 1.5 pounds fruits and veggies

• 0.5 pound grains

• 0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils

• which is about 4.5 pounds of food = about 3,700 calories per day.

But what if we switched this to:

• 2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies

• 1.0 pounds of grains and legumes

• 0.3 pounds nuts/seeds

• 0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs

• 0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils

• which is about 4.2 pounds = about 2,075 calories per day.

That’s a difference of 1,625 calories per day which is the total number of daily calories of a 145 pound woman.

If we prioritize and eat nutritious, real foods then there isn’t much room left for the energy dense, heavily processed foods that feed disease instead of health. You only have about three to five pounds of food to work with each day. So starting tomorrow, the question is, What are your four pounds made up of?

Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC Certified Fitness Trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in both Nevada City and Grass Valley (www.southyubaclub.com). He has worked in the fitness and sports industry for 15 years and specializes in health and fitness programming for new exercisers, and for those seeking weight loss/toning and athletic training. Contact him at: mikec@southyubaclub.com.


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