Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hidden calories - Watch out, they're everywhere!

You've made the decision: Today is the day that I leave my old unhealthy habits behind. Today is the day that I start to lose fat. Today is the day that I start to eat healthy and start to exercise.

That's really great stuff! Congratulations! If I had been an audience, I would have given you a standing ovation right now. I sincerely hope you make it a great success.

But now that you've made the decision to improve your state of health and fitness, you need to start to watch out for all the hidden dangers that may cause you to step off the straight and narrow along the way. One of the largest barriers to health and fitness progress, is hidden calories. They really are all around us. Hidden calories can very, very easily derail all your hard work and attempts at losing fat and building muscle. No matter how hard you work in the gym or how strict your diet. And no one is exempt from this danger. We've all had our run ins with hidden calories at some point or other and for all of us, it was a bad experience.

Well then, if we need to protect ourselves against danger, we need to know all about it. So what exactly is a hidden calorie? Everything you eat that you're not aware of, can't recall when completing your food log sheet, or are not aware of the exact amount of calories it contains counts as hidden calories. The meaning will become clearer through the examples shown below. These examples also show how easy it is to become prey to hidden calories.

When you're preparing food

Many, many people have the habit of munching and drinking whilst preparing food. And what's even more disastrous is that you're not even aware that you're eating, much less how much you're eating. Because your mind is preoccupied with preparing and serving food, you don't take any notice of how much your stuffing into your face. People are constantly having a taste of this or that, or eating small bites from dishes already prepared before the food is served. 

All the small bites can easily add up to about half of your daily caloric requirement. As far as hidden calories go, this is one of the most devastating diet destroyers out there and catches many people off guard. I fall into that trap every now and then also.

When you're driving

Many people have a habit of eating a snack when they're driving. Once again, because your mind is not on what you're eating and how much your eating (you're concentrating on driving) you tend to eat much, much more. Those hidden calories add up and in the end, throws your entire program out of balance.

Eating while watching TV

When our minds are preoccupied with something like the television, we tend to eat more and also eat larger portions. Guess what, more hidden calories.

When you enter the supermarket hungry

People tend to make poorer food choices when doing their grocery shopping while being hungry. So what we do is choose foods that are generally higher in sugar and fat content, because being hungry awakens cravings for sweet and fatty foods. These high sugar and high fat foods contain a lot more calories than what we would have otherwise bought if we were not hungry. These calories are all dangerous hidden calories. Hunger can cloud our judgments and in a moment of insanity, we make the wrong choices. 

Misjudging portion sizes (whether intentional or not)

Even when you're eating and adding just that little bit extra to your potion sizes you fall into the hidden calorie trap. You may be thinking that one extra roast potato won't do a lot of damage, or maybe it won't be that bad if I add just a little bit more to this or that portion. Come on, we've all done that! Well, your thinking is wrong. I know that many of us also put food on our plates, and then take a bite out of the pot or pan so that we have something to chew as we move to the table or wherever it is we're eating. I know, because I do it myself a lot of times. All that extra food equals hidden calories.

You eat something because you feel that you exercised hard and already burned the calories

No, allow me to school you this once. You NEVER eat something because you feel that that the calories have already been burned. Like I discuss in my LYFA! FITNESS 21 Day program, in order to lose fat, you need to create a calorie deficit. The calorie deficit is created both by eating healthy, in other words, taking in fewer calories than you expend, and by exercising, or in other words, burning more energy than you take in. 

If you do your exercises, why then would you want to eat something that will fill the deficit you've just created? All it is going to do is cancel your deficit and you'll lose no fat whatsoever. Again, hidden calories in action. 

Don't ever think that eating something after going to the gym is OK because you've burned the calories already. Please, I'm asking nicely.

Coffees and teas, fruit juices, dried fruit snacks and other foods that are low fat or low carb

What do we do when we drink coffee or tea? We add sugar and milk or cream. And what do we do when we see something that's low fat or low carb? We eat more of it off course! If you're like me and like to have at least two teaspoons of milk in your coffee or tea, then by the end of the day it won't be funny to discover you're had about 10 teaspoons of straight sugar. 

It's the same for low fat or low carb foods. Because we think we can eat more of it, we take in more calories. Remember folks, even though it says low fat and low carb, it still contains many calories. That low fat and low carb food will only help if you stick to your portion sizes! Not if you think that it'll be OK to eat more. No, you're only taking in more hidden calories. Watch out!

Eating dried fruit snacks or drinking fruit juices also seems like a good idea doesn't it? I mean its made of fruit and aren't fruits healthy and low cal? Only if they are fresh or freshly squeezed. People generally want something that's sweet and tastes nice. So what do manufacturers of dried fruit snacks and fruit juices do? Yes you guessed it, they add mountains of sugar to these snacks to make them taste sweet and nice. And yep, you guessed it again, all the sugar and other additives are hidden calories, just waiting to break you down. Think again before reaching for a fruit snack or fruit juice. They aren't always as healthy as they look.

Each one of the examples shown above are devastating in their own right, but we never only make one type of mistake do we? Nope, we sure don't. So imagine then all the hidden calories just waiting to mess up our health and fitness programs from a combination of two or more of the examples above. Is it any wonder why hidden calories are so dangerous? Fortunately, there are simple actions we can take to protect ourselves from hidden calories.

How to keep yourself safe from hidden calories

Planning your meals and keeping a daily log of your food will go a long way towards protecting yourself from hidden calories. Effectively you limit your food choices to only those healthy choices you place in your planner. Unplanned food intake always leads to hidden calories. So protect yourself from hidden calories by planning your meals upfront and using your food log and planner. Visit the LYFA! FITNESS page,, to find a useful meal planner. On this sheet you can plan your meals and also log what you've eaten to see how well you're sticking to the plan.

On the subject of logging your food intake, you may also improve your chances of staying away from hidden calories, if you log your food intake the moment it has been eaten. That means that for every bite of food you take, you immediately note it in your log. Not only will it help you to see where hidden calories get to you, but also to guard against hidden calories and to make changes to your program to avoid hidden calories.

To avoid hidden calories while preparing food, try to prepare your food in advance, preferably on your cheat days when it is OK to eat anything you want. Then you can make your food for the week and munch as much as you want without damaging your diet. Food may be frozen for later, so that when a meal time arrives, you simply reheat the food and serve. This will keep you from munching, not to mention the time saved from not having to prepare every meal.

Attempt to eat 3 to 5 small meals in the day, at specific scheduled times, and them refrain from eating anything in between. If you prepare 5 meals a day, then you'll be without food for a period of 3 to 3 and a half hours in between each meal. It is really not very difficult to go without food for 3 hours. You can go to sleep for 8 hours and not need any food, so it'll definitely be possible to hold out for just three hours. Am I saying that you should go to sleep between meals or to avoid eating? No, that's not what I'm trying to say. It would be bad advice to prescribe sleep between meals to avoid eating. What I suggest to avoid eating between meal times, is to take the thoughts of food and eating out of your mind by replacing them with other thoughts. 

To avoid eating between meals, try to keep yourself busy with any task that'll take your mind away from food and will also keep your hands busy. The task should be such that you must think and focus on it to get it done. It'll also help if you perform this task in a location that is not close to your kitchen or fridge (or any other place where food may be easily accessible). You can quite easily fill 3 hours by performing a task of some sort. If you're at work during the day, this is even easier. Select the task that's going to take the most of your concentration and focus and get it done. Not only will you refrain from eating, your productivity levels will rise tremendously, and you might even get that raise or promotion. All because you're trying to avoid hidden calories. Amazing, isn't it?

Try to refrain from eating or drinking in your car - this will also keep your seats clean! If you feel hungry, and it's a meal time, rather stop, get your food, eat and then go on your way again.

Try not to enter the supermarket hungry. Have a light snack beforehand or visit the supermarket after you've had a meal.

When you're eating, place on your plate the correct amount of food. The LYFA! FITNESS 21 Day program describes how you can select the correct portion sizes based on the dimensions of your own hands. Resolve not to put anything in your mouth until you've put the correct amounts of food on your plate. Then only eat the food on your plate and don't go for seconds. If you don't feel satiated yet, drink a glass of water and wait just a couple of minutes. Water has the effect of filling you up and your body has to register the amount of food you've just eaten. You may feel that you've had enough and don't need any more food after a glass of water and a couple of minutes.

As far as juices and fruit sweets go, it'll be best to cut them out. This may be hard to do, but remember that if you eat 5 small meals a day, only 3 to 3 and half hours are left between meals. You therefore don't need to have fruit snacks or juices between meals if you fill the time with a good task. Try to cut them out altogether and drink water instead of juice. Water has 0 calories! 

The negative effects of hidden calories on your emotional state

It is so very important that you attempt to protect yourself from hidden calories. Not only because they can derail your health and fitness program, but also because of the negative emotional effects hidden calories may cause.

Let's say that you've been busting your ass every week in the gym, you've really been going at it very hard and through sweat, blood and tears you feel like one hard working machine. And let's also say that your diet is the strictest in the world, you don't allow for one stray calorie, everything is tight and ship-shape. Through various actions (some intentional and others not) hidden calories were introduced into your program without your knowledge. Because you've been a beast the last couple of weeks, you expect to see great reductions in your weight and body measurements. You climb onto the scale and you measure yourself............. And you find no change in either weight, nor measurements.

Imagine that instant feeling of intense disappointment, followed by despair and depression. You've done all this hard work, but for what? Was it all for nothing? And the logical next thought is that this program does not work, it's all bullshit. All the claims they were making of losing fat and building muscle were all lies and you've been swindled. Might as well quit right now, because this is yet another program that does not work. Ever had that feeling before?

The truth of the matter is that there was nothing wrong with the program nor with your intense efforts at losing fat and building muscle. Nothing at all. The whole thing was derailed by hidden calories, and like our definition of hidden calories states, you weren't even aware of them. Can you see how much of a negative effect hidden calories have on our emotional states? So much so that it can cause you to quit a program even after only one or two week of being on it. 

I hope that we all realize the truth about hidden calories and how dangerous it can be. Can you see my dear friends, why we have to protect ourselves from this menace? Please re-read the pointers on how to protect yourself from hidden calories if you need to, and make triple sure that you never step into the hidden calorie trap. By following this advice, you will not only improve your health and fitness regime dramatically, but also protect yourself emotionally from the damage of hidden calories. This will keep your drive and motivation levels high and save you enormous amounts of willpower. It will help you to achieve success and make all your dreams a reality.

If you've ever been deceived by hidden calories, please share your story in the comments section below. You may know of other hidden dangers that the rest of us are unaware of. We can all learn from each other.

Until next time friends, STAY TRUE AND TRAIN HARD!

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