Calories and Cookies
A colleague of mine, Marshall Tully, has recently started a new venture: Muscle Masala. He has created a High-Protein Cookie, and is aiming his sights on the Espresso Bar and Café goers of Toronto. Loaded with excellent organic ingredients and a balanced macro-nutrient profile, the MM Cookie presents a sound alternative to the processed, flour and sugar-based baked goods found in most cafés. I am more than happy to carry his product at my Private Training Facility as I have been looking for an option to help clients make positive on-the-go choices, as we know all too well how difficult it is to be nutritionally prepared all the time.
Recently I received an innocent question enquiring about the caloric content of the new cookie. I always appreciate an enquiring mind, however, the question led me to a larger subject, that of the calorie control model. As per usual it prompted a fairly lengthy response from me. One I thought I would share with my readers as it lends itself to a discussion on the validity of the calorie control model.
So, let’s open the cookie jar and see what it reveals, both on the question about the cookie, and more importantly….. the real value of calories.
First for the cookie:
An excellent option for the on-the-go professional, particularly when faced with the abundance of poor choices out there. The cookie should not be considered a top-secret fat-loss tool, nor is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is most simply a stop-gap to ensure blood sugar doesn’t drop between meals, sustaining a client until they return home to prepare a proper meal. The ingredients are top notch, mostly organic, providing close to 20g of protein, and it really does taste fantastic.
Nutrition details are coming soon from a food lab, but the approximate nutritional breakdown is as follows:
- kcal: 320
- protein - 20g
- carbs (mostly fibre) - 25g
- fat - 20g
Now for the real question, why is this important?
The short answer is, aside from when making egregious errors in food choice and portion size, calorie counting in my opinion, isn’t important at all.
Most of North America’s popular diet protocols are centred around calorie control. I will give you a very quick explanation as to why this is a recipe for disaster. Most individuals find themselves silently putting on weight after about the age of thirty. It is not uncommon for one’s weight to climb twenty pounds or more from the age of 30 to 50. It’s as though we wake up one day in our fifties and suddenly realise we have gained more than a stone. It never happens this way, of course.
To prevent this from happening through the calorie control model, we have to look first at some basic assumptions:
- 1 pound of fat - theoretically - equals 3500 kcals (calories of stored energy)
- Therefor 20 pounds of fat gain is equal to 70,000 kcal
If laws within the realms of physics and thermodynamics are consistent, we would have to watch our caloric intake to within a limit of 9.7 kcal of our needs every day. If we exceeded the limit - equivalent to perhaps a few extra nibbles of a fig, or less than an extra teaspoon of olive oil - our weight, under this model would slowly creep up. Day after day, week after week.
My experience from my coaching practice has confirmed this would be a near impossible feat of self-control, moreover, this type of adherence to metrics is something even the most meticulous accountant would not agree to; a recipe for failure and a fast-track to obsessive, compulsive eating.
Appeal to the most important players in fat gain and fat loss. We must address:
- The hormonal environment
- The endocrine system
- The underlying metabolic architecture
Don’t worry, it is easier than it sounds! And this is exactly what we teach our clients in our coaching programs.
We routinely take close to 20 pounds off our clients in just 8-10 weeks, with minimal training, simply by introducing insulin sensitising supplements and addressing the first meal of the day. This is the easiest method to both increase sensitivity to the hormone INSULIN (master controller of FAT gain and loss) and adequately set up a hormonal profile more favourably for the rest of the day.
Behold the fat cell. INSULIN has the key:
Once again, remember that all calories are not created equal, quantity is always trumped by food quality, nutrient density, meal structure and timing. When these principles are understood, the effect on fat loss is powerful.
For a more thorough discussion on the subject, turn to Gary Taubes, perhaps the sharpest mind in science journalism today. He has done a masterful job in exposing the fallacy behind these long held beleifs within in the medical and dietetics communities.
His latest books: Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat are rigorous expositions into some of the most dearly defended positions of the medical community, particularly those related to weight gain, wellness, and fitness. I encourage anyone interested to read Why We Get Fat. A more digestible sequel to the definitive Good Calories, Bad Calories.
So, have a cookie, enjoy it with an espresso, and pay little attention to its caloric content. When incorporated into a sound and strategic approach to eating well, it can do nothing but help you achieve your strength and wellness goals.