Is Caffeine Healthy?

coffee

Coffee is more than just a morning pick-me-up for me. It is the nectar of the gods. It takes a lot of trial-and-error to find just the right cup. It has to be the right blend, from acceptable sources, brewed to perfection. Or I can get the caffeinated liquid candy from Starbucks. 

Caffeine is the drug of choice in our culture. About 90% of Americans consume caffeine daily and about half consume over 300 mg. The most common sources of caffeine are coffee and tea. Other sources include sodas, energy drinks and chocolate.

What is Caffeine?

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Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant also known as trimethyxanthine. It is found in plants such as coffee, tea and cacao.

How Does Caffeine Work?

Adenosine: Adenosine is a chemical that is involved in many biological processes. One of these is acting as an inhibitor (slows it down) for the central nervous system. This plays an important role in sleep. Because caffeine looks similar to adenosine to your nervous system, caffeine is able to bind to adenosine receptors and block adenosine. Because caffeine blocks he inhibitory process of adenosine, your brain speeds up. Over time, regular use of caffeine results in your body creating more adenosine receptors. As a result of this, lack of caffeine will make you become overwhelmed by adenosine and needing caffeine to compensate. 

Adrenaline: The increased brain activity from caffeine tricks your pituitary gland into thinking there is an emergency. This results in it stimulating your adrenal glands. This results in your pupils dilating, your airways opening up, your heart rate increases, your pupils on the surface constrict to slow down blood flow and increase blood flow to muscles, blood pressure rises, blood flow to the stomach slows down, the liver releases sugar into the bloodstream for energy and muscles tighten up for action. 

Dopamine: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the brains reward and pleasure centers. In addition to blocking adenosine, caffeine slows down the reabsorption of dopamine, increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine helps regulate movement and emotional responses. It also helps us to see rewards and act on them (reward meaning pleasure).

The Benefits of Caffeine

  • In sources such as tea and coffee, it contains antioxidants, which are important from preventing oxidative damage. 
  • It increases energy levels.
  • It improves mood.
  • It improves cognitive function, including alertness and memory.
  • It increases fat burning and metabolism.
  • It improves physical performance.
  • Associated with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Associated with lower risk of alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Associated with lower risk of Parkinson’s.
  • May prevent liver damage.
  • Associated with lower risk of cancer. 

*Association does not mean causation. 

The Risks of Caffeine

  • Regular use may cause dependency. It may become more about avoiding withdrawal rather than capitalizing on the benefits.
  • Often consumed with added sugar, which should be avoided.
  • May mess with digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Increases stress levels.

Conclusion

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Caffeine has both risks and benefits. For most adults, caffeine isn’t considered risky until consuming over 300 mg daily (~ 2 cups of coffee). However, this doesn’t factor in dependency, is based on association and is relative to the general population. 

The healthiest sources of caffeine are coffee and tea. It is best consumed in moderation, limiting added sugar. It is also preferable to avoid dependency and trying to go without it every once in a while.

Learn More:

FDA 2012 Caffeine Consumption Report

ASAPScience: Your Brain on Coffee

You Are Not So Smart: Coffee

How Stuff Works: Caffeine

Chris Kresser: Is drinking coffee good for you?

SciShow: Caffeine!

WebMD: Caffeine Myths and Facts

Authority Nutrition: Top 13 Evidence-Based Benefits of Caffeine

MayoClinic: Coffee

Health Ambition: Negative Effects of Coffee

Mayo Clinic: Caffeine Content for Various Sources

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The Problems with The Beef Industry & How to Be a Part of The Solution

As consumers, we are inclined to only look at one side of the story. When we buy products we usually consider how it affects us. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is another side that we should consider. What went into this product? How was it produced? What is the impact of their methods towards humanity and the environment? Do I support the way they run their operations?

Over the last few decades, food production in the US has shifted to a system that is dominated by industrialized factory farms, owned by only a handful of corporations. The rise of industrialized farming has run smaller local farms out of business. In addition, there are a handful of concerns with the impact of  factory farming. Among them is the beef industry.

Irresponsible Use of Antibiotics

80% of antibiotics used in the US go to farm animals, including livestock.

distribution of antibiotics

Why? Cattle in industrialized farms are in small overcrowded spaces which are stressful to the animal and make infections spread more easily. The counteract this, many industrialized farms give their cattle low-levels of antibiotics to prevent infection and promote weight gain.

Why is this bad? Using low-levels of antibiotics in crowded spaces encourages the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance has become of the greatest public health threats our world faces, this threat is in part due to inappropriate use of it. Easily treatable infections can once again become life threatening as they were before antibiotics.

Farm to Fork

The FDA recently added rules to phase out the use of antibiotics. These rules are on a volunteer bases and only cover specific drugs that are commonly used to treat humans. While this move may  improve public image, it really doesn’t do much to end inappropriate use of antibiotics in livestock.

Hormones

 Most cattle in the U.S. are given anabolic hormone implants to promote faster growth. There are six steroids used, in varying combinations.

  • Natural: estradiol, testosterone and progesterone
  • Synthetic: estrogen compound zeranol, the androgen trenbolone acetate, and progestin melengestrol acetate

Giving steroids to beef makes them grow more muscle and makes them grow faster, this makes them cheaper to raise and gives the beef industry more meat to sell.

Is it safe? While the U.S. government claims the use of antibiotics is safe, the European Union has banned meat that have been given hormone implants. There is a surprising lack of research given how widespread hormone added meat is. Despite the lack of proof that it is actually safe, the majority of the U.S. beef industry continues the practice with little concern for what that means for anything beyond their own profit.

What are the concerns? There are concerns that the hormone additives that are in the meat may cause birth defects and change the sexual development in children. There are also concerns that it may cause cancer.

The Environmental Impact

What goes into a burger

Animal Manure: Factory farms are overcrowded. The high concentration of animals in a small space makes managing waste complicated. The disposal of the waste harms the air, water, soil and nearby farms. To add on to this, livestock waste is not processed for sanitation. The waste is often mixed with water which is then sprayed on crops. This can spread infectious diseases such as E. Coli (which they also may have helped in making it resistant to antibiotics). When the manure/water pits become overfilled, it can leak which can eventually end up in surface water.

Air Pollution: Factory farms pollute the air with methane and hydrogen sulfide. These gases contribute to global warming and may cause harm to those living nearby. Air pollution is often the result of the overuse of machines, mismanagement of waste and harmful feeding practices.

Animal Welfare

The industrialized cows have to live through unnecessary cruelty.

factory farms

  • For identification purposes, cows are branded with a hot iron causing third degree burns.
  • Male calves testicles are ripped from their scrotum.
  • The horns of cows raised for beef are cut or burned off.
  • Livestock fed diets high in grain often suffer from chronic digestive pain and conditions such as acidosis.Rather changing their diet to grass-fed, they are given low-level doses of antibiotics so they keep growing. The antibiotics don’t do much for the suffering of the animal.
  • The feedlot air is filled with ammonia, methane and other harmful chemicals. These gases cause chronic respiratory issues.
  • The livestock are often in very crowded environments. These environments are uncomfortable and very stressful to the animals.

What You Can Do About It

One of the best ways to change the way to food system operates is through voting with your wallet. If you do not support the practices of industrialized farming, then do not support them. There are a number of ways you can go about this…

Support Small Local Sustainable Farms: Small farms are having an increasingly difficult time competing with the bigger industrialized farms. It is important for both economical and environmental sustainability that local farms are supported.

  • You can find local Certified Humane products here.
  • You can find local sustainable food here.
  • If you find a local farmer and make a seasonal deal, you may be able to get a discount on the meat.

USDA Organic: Items that are “100 percent organic” are certified to have been produced using only methods thought to be good for the earth. “Organic” means the item contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients.  Prohibits the use of hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering, radiation, synthetic pesticides, and fertilizers.

American Grass-fed Certified: Applies to beef and lamb. Requires humane treatment, open pastures, and a grass-only diet for all animals and prohibits use of all antibiotics and hormones.

Certified Humane: No Cages, No crates, no tie stalls. animals must be free to do what comes naturally. A diet of quality feed, without animal by- products, antibiotics or growth hormones. Producers must comply with food safety and environmental regulations. Processors must comply with the American Meat Institute Standards (AMI).

Eat Less Meat: You can reduce the amount of meat you consume or stop eating it all together.

Spread the Word: The more people that know about factory farms and other problems with our food system, the more pressure there will be for legitimate regulation and reform.

 

Read More: 

Tips for Sustainable Living

The Meatrix

Industrial Livestock Production

What You Need to Know About The Beef Industry

Growth Hormones in Beef Linked to Adverse Affects on Male Sexual Development

Decoding Meat and Dairy Product Labels

Glossary of Meat Production Methods

Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals

Visualizing a Nation of Meat Eaters

Food Economics

Animal Welfare

Environment

 

 

Tips for Sustainable Living

I believe part of living a healthy lifestyle is doing what  I can to live environmentally sustainably and keep the planet I’m dependent on habitable. How can we expect to be healthy if we do not live in harmony with nature, do not interact with the environment the way we were designed to and we are destroying the environment we are dependent on for our survival? In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would share some tips for living sustainably.

97% of climate scientists agree that humans are at least partially responsible for climate change. Here is some of the evidence. If 97% of climate scientists are wrong and we take action and live sustainably, then the result is: cleaner air, no oil spills, no nuclear plant disasters, we produce/consume less and live more, get more out of what we use. There would be no harm done. However, if 97% of climate scientists are right and we don’t make use of the solutions which already exist: famine, unsafe water, unsafe air, more death/disease caused by living in toxic environments, catastrophic weather events, widespread conflict and eventually mass extinction (including humans).

Eat Local:  You can find local farmer’s markets here. You can also grow your own food.

Eat a Plant-Based Diet: Not only are plant-based diets among the healthiest, they are also among the most sustainable.

Buy Foods with Sustainable Labels: Such as…

  • USDA Organic: Items that are “100 percent organic” are certified to have been produced using only methods thought to be good for the earth. “Organic” means the item contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients.  Prohibits the use of hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering, radiation, synthetic pesticides, and fertilizers.
  • American Grassfed Certified: Applies to beef and lamb. Requires humane treatment, open pastures, and a grass-only diet for all animals and prohibits use of all antibiotics and hormones.

  • Rainforest Alliance Certified: Sets high standards for environmental protection, worker rights and welfare, and the interests of local communities. Some pesticide use is allowed.

  • Fair Trade Certified: Members commit to biodiversity-enhancing practices, ensuring children’s rights, supporting safe working conditions and other fair-trade measures, and documenting fair-trade labor policies.

Use Less Fuel: Walk, bike or take public transportation when possible. If you have the opportunity, get a hybrid car so you aren’t dependent on gas.

Use Renewable Energy: Buy solar panels or use renewable energy options from your energy service.

Use Less Electricity: Buy energy efficient products, turn off the lights when you can and turn the power down when you are not using it, hang dry clothes when possible.

Use Less Water: Shorter showers, use dishwasher only when full, wash clothes only when full.

Do not buy bottled water

Recycle: You can follow standard recycling practices and buy products secondhand.

Compost

Buy less stuff.

 

More:

Find out your ecological footprint.

Post Carbon Institute

Resilience – Environment

Transition Towns

Reduce your ecological footprint.

NRDC Green Eating Guide

Time is Running Out for Climate Change

Climate Deniers Manipulative Fake Science

Healthy Eating on a Budget

 

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takepart.com/table

Food costs money and eating healthy can be expensive. There are many factors that contribute to this, some examples being the distribution of agricultural subsidies and that processed foods typically have a longer shelf life. That said, disease and healthcare also cost money and eating a healthy diet is a key factor in preventing a variety of chronic illnesses. Money aside, a healthy diet makes you feel great and real food tastes better (in my opinion). Unfortunately, you are going to have to pay if you want to meet your biological needs, so here are some tips to spending less in doing so.

Take Advantage of Sales: Buy the healthy items you see on sale. This is especially useful with foods that have longer shelf lives or are freezable.  For example, if you see chicken breast on sale, buy extra and freeze it. Why buy the same exact product for $5 when you can buy it for $3?

Buy in Bulk: Buying things in individual or smaller servings costs more relative to the amount of food you get. As long as you aren’t buying so much that it goes to waste, get the larger size.

Buy Frozen: Frozen fruits and vegetables typically cost less than their fresh counterparts (especially when out of season). While fresh produce is great, it also can get expensive. Try out frozen fruits for your next smoothie or heat up some frozen veggies for your meal rather than making a fresh salad.

Buy Generic Food: This is especially the case when it comes to basic foods like milk, eggs, rice and pasta. I only buy name brands when there is a significant nutritional difference or there is a significant improvement in flavor.

Check out Farmers Markets: Sometimes farmers markets can be expensive, but other times you find great deals. Buying local is great for sustainability. They can also make a fun activity when the weather is nice. You can find farmer’s markets near you here. Buying local may not always cost less for your wallet, but it will almost always cost less for the planet.

Buy in Season: Buying foods in their season is cheaper and more sustainable. To find when foods are cheapest, go here.

Prepare and Cook Your Own Food: Eating out gives you less control over your food, adds a cost for the service as well as the cost for profit. Pre-cooked or prepared foods cost more in the grocery store as well.

Drink Tap Water: Buying bottled water is probably one of the worst financial decisions you can make. Not to mention, it encourages the idea of privatizing water. Always have water on hand so you don’t have to buy a bottle from a store when you are out and about. If you want to filter your tap water (not that it is necessary), try out Brita or a number of other water filters.

Find Inexpensive Healthy Foods: Beans are a great example of inexpensive nutritional foods. You can buy them canned (get low sodium) or dried. Lentils are my favorite because they are quick and easy to make. Eggs are another relatively cheap food that can be prepared in a variety of ways.

Grow Your Own Food: Gardening is a very useful skill to have. You can control everything from seed to table. It can be a fun and rewarding hobby. Not to mention, it will earn you major Pinterest points. You don’t even need a yard to garden (although it will provide more options). Sprouts and herbs are a great place to start if you don’t have much experience or have limited space. You can also rent garden spaces in a lot of cities. For tips on gardening without much space, go here.

Eating a healthy diet will probably cost more money than eating an unhealthy diet. But it also saves money in healthcare costs. You will probably need less prescription drugs and trips to the doctor in the future, not to mention lowering the risk of various types of cancers. You will be more energetic, stronger and happier. Feeling better and being healthier may even improve your work performance, giving you better chances of promotion which would increase your budget. If you are worried about the financial cost, look at where the rest of your extra spending is going and see if you can cut back elsewhere.

Body Fat Percentage (BF%)

While Body Mass Index (BMI) is the traditional method for assessing health through weight, it can be unreliable because it doesn’t take into account body type or composition. A less used but more reliable method is Body Fat Percentage (BF%). It measures what percent of your body is composed of fat. It does not take into account other factors such as muscle mass, bone density and lifestyle choices. As we age our BF% increases as muscle mass decreases.

Essential Fat: This is the minimum percentage required for basic functioning and survival. We need a certain amount of fat for our bodies to function. We need it for insulation as well as protection of internal organs. For women this is thought to be around 10-13% and men it is around 2-5%.  This is often what bodybuilders will aim for on competition day. This range is very risky, unsustainable and not recommended for a healthy lifestyle.

Athletes: Women between 14-20% and men between 6-13% will fall into this category. This level is really only healthy if you have a higher amount of muscle mass (such as competitive athletes). This range is especially questionable for women, since some women will stop menstruating at these levels.

Fitness: This is considered the ideal range for fitness. Women fall into this category from 21-24% and men from 14-17%. This does not mean everyone in this category is actually fit or that people above this are not. This is generally the optimal range, but other factors need to be taken into account.

Acceptable: A BF of 25-31% for women and 18-24% for men is considered acceptable. This is what most people in the United States would consider a normal healthy weight. Many people who eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly will fall into this category.

Obese: A BF of 32%+ in women and 25%+ in men is considered obese. People in this range are at increased risk for chronic diseases.  Most American adults would fall into this category.

*Keep in mind this is different than obese according to BMI. The obesity rate according to these standards would be higher than BMI standards.

 

How to Determine Your Body Fat Percentage

  • Skin Fold Caliper: These cost around $5 and are a reliable way for measurement if done properly. You pinch your skin and pull the fat away from the muscle. Learning how to do this properly may take some practice, but is very useful if you learn how to do it right. You can calculate your skin fold measurements here.
  • Tape Measure: You can take measurements of yourself then input them into an online calculator. This isn’t the most reliable method, but it is quick and easy. One of the major factors that could come into play is your body shape (also measuring inaccurately/ not quite in the right place).
  • Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA): This measures the electrical current in your body combined with your height and weight. It makes an estimation of your BF% based on this. This is not the most accurate method because hydration can impact the result, but you can do it at home and it may feel less awkward than using a skin fold caliper. If you use this method, make sure you measure at a consistent time to keep the hydration levels similar (first thing in the morning is a good bet).
  • Hydrostatic Weighing: This has a high degree of accuracy for measuring BF%. It also requires going out of your way to pay $100+ to get dunked in a tank of water. For most people, this isn’t a very practical option.
  • DEXA Scan: This is considered the best measurement. It includes other factors in addition to BF%. However, it costs about $250 so it is only worth it if getting a precise reading is important to you.
  • The Mirror Method:  If you are able to look at yourself objectively, you will probably be able to make a decent estimation of your BF% in the mirror. If you only care about being in a healthy range and liking the way you look, then this is probably a good option for you. This is especially the case if like me, you have a tendency to obsess when numbers get involved. You can do this by comparing yourself to various visual guides and the characteristics described of each range (links below). That said, looking at ourselves objectively isn’t always easy. I recommend combining this with at least one of the other methods.

There is a good chance that the gym you belong to offers body fat measurements. This may be a cost effective way to be assessed by an expert (or at least someone who knows what they are doing). Some gyms may offer this with an overall fitness assessment.

Setting Goals

Body fat percentage is especially useful in tracking progress when you are at or around a healthy weight. You can track this along with progress in performance. Body fat percentage may be more difficult to accurately measure without a professional if you are significantly overweight, since there are less noticeable changes in definition.

When it comes down to it, the ideal BF% (once you are in a healthy range) is more a matter of personal preference. While you can be relatively healthy while overweight, the BMI and BF% guidelines were set as they are for a reason. Most women will probably want to aim between 20-25% and men between 15-20%.

Strength training plays an important role in finding a good balance. This is especially the case if you are losing weight, since you want to make sure what is lost is actually fat. Muscle is also denser and burns more calories than fat, so increasing muscle mass will give your metabolism a nice boost. Not to mention, it makes you look toned and being physically strong feels kind of bad ass.

Learn More:

Body Fat Pictures and Percentages (highly recommend)

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be

5 Ways to Measure Body Fat Percentage

Body Fat Pictures of Men & Women (highly recommend)

Body Fat Images for Comparison

Everything You Need to Know About Body Fat Percentage

National Body Fat Percentage Average

Decoding Nutrition Labels

Food labels can be very useful for making sure you eat a healthy diet. However, labels can be deceptive. Food companies want you to buy their products so they will often highlight the part that will make them be perceived as healthy. Learning what all the labels actually mean can help you upgrade your health bullshit detector.

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Daily Value (%DV): The %DV listed is based on the recommendations for an average person on a 2,000 calorie diet. It is used to help people estimate how it fits into their overall diet. However, your personal needs may be different based on any number of factors.

The Ingredient List: The ingredients are listed in order by weight.

  • Names for Added Sugars: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, syrup.
  • Names for Artificial Sweeteners: aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), acesulfame-K (Sweet One), neotame, saccharin (Sweet’N Low), sucralose (Splenda), stevia (Truvia and PureVia)
  • Names for Sodium: sodium bicarbonate (baking soda),  sodium nitrate, sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate.
  • Names for Trans Fat: trans fat, partially hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated oil.

Free: Contains no amount or insignificant amount of specified ingredient. *Watch-out for labels that advertise “0 g of trans fat” because that isn’t the same as being “trans fat free”. They can say 0 g while having up to 0.5 g. The AHA recommends no more than 2 g per day, so it could have up to 25% of your daily limit and still say “0 g of trans fat”.

Low: You can eat the food frequently without exceeding the daily requirements. E.g. “low fat” = 3 g or less per serving.

Lean and Extra Lean: Used to describe the fat content in meat. “Lean” = <10 g fat/<4.5g saturated fat/ <95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g. “Extra Lean” = <5 g fat/<2g saturated fat/ <95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.

High: Food contains 20% or more of daily value.

Good Source: Food contains 10-19% of the daily value.

Reduced: Nutritionally altered product that contains 25% less of nutrient than the original product. E.g. Reduced fat Cheeze-its.

Less: Food contains 25% less of a nutrient or calories than the reference food.

Light: It can be used in nutritionally altered products that contain 33% fewer calories or 50% less fat. It can also be used in reference texture.

More: Contains at least 10% of daily value or more of the a nutrient than the reference food.

Heart Healthy: This is probably the most deceptive of labels. Food that is  low in fat/ saturated fat, contains no more than 360 mg of sodium, and no more than 60 mg of cholesterol per serving. It must also provide at least 10% of the daily value for vitamins A, or C, or iron, calcium, protein, or fiber. *Keep in mind there are a lot of healthy foods like olive oil or other foods high in healthy fats that are good for your heart.   Also, produce doesn’t have labels and is great for your heart.

Fresh: Food is raw, has not been frozen or heated and contains no preservatives.

High Potency: Used on foods or supplements to describe vitamins/ minerals that are present at 100% daily value or more. It can also be used on multi-ingredient products with at least 100% of DV for  at least 2/3 of the vitamins/ mineral present.

Antioxidant: Used to describe foods or supplements that are “a good source of” or “high in” a nutrient where there is an established daily value and function as an antioxidant. *An antioxidant is a substance that neutralizes reactive oxygen molecules which reduces oxidative damage.

Whole Grain: At least 51% of the grain must be whole grain.

100% Whole Grain: All of the grain must be whole grain.

No Antibiotics: Seen on red meat, poultry, and milk to indicate that the animals were raised without being routinely fed low doses of antibiotics to promote faster growth and prevent infections that tend to occur when animals live in crowded, unsanitary, stressful  and overall cruel conditions. *80% of the antibiotics used in the US go to animal agriculture. The unnecessary use of antibiotics in livestock has played a major role in the development of multi-drug resistant bacteria which are becoming a growing public health threat.

No Hormones: This label appears on beef and dairy products to signify that the animals were raised without supplemental hormones, which are commonly used to make animals gain weight faster or to increase milk production.

100% Natural: These products do not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives and have no synthetic ingredients.

USDA Organic: Items that are “100 percent organic” are certified to have been produced using only methods thought to be good for the earth. “Organic” means the item contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients.  Prohibits the use of hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering, radiation, synthetic pesticides, and fertilizers.

American Grassfed Certified: Applies to beef and lamb. Requires humane treatment, open pastures, and a grass-only diet for all animals and prohibits use of all antibiotics and hormones.

Rainforest Alliance Certified: Sets high standards for environmental protection, worker rights and welfare, and the interests of local communities. Some pesticide use is allowed.

Fair Trade Certified: Members commit to biodiversity-enhancing practices, ensuring children’s rights, supporting safe working conditions and other fair-trade measures, and documenting fair-trade labor policies.

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More:

George Carlin on Food Advertising Bullshit

American Heart Association Nutrition Label Guide

FDA Nutrition Label Guide

NRDC Food Label Guide (good for sustainability-related labels)

Your Guide to Calories

CALORIES:  We talk about them constantly and for many of us it is the first thing we look at on a nutrition label. But how much do we actually know about calories? What are they?

Calorie: 1. Either of two units of heat energy. 2. The energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules).

Technically 1 “food calorie” is actually 1 KCal as in 1,000 calories.

How many (kilo)calories do I burn?

The Harris-Benedict Equation for Basal Energy Expenditure (BEE) is commonly used to calculate energy requirements based on sex, height, weight and age.

W = weight in kilograms H = height in centimeters A = age in years

Men: BEE = 66.5 + 13.8(W) + 5.0(H) – 6.8(A)

Women: BEE = 655.1 + 9.6(W) + 1.9(H) – 4.7(A)

Your BEE is basically the amount of calories you would need if you were a couch potato and sat on your ass all day.  If you are a normal person, your BEE will need to be multiplied by a factor of 1.2-1.5 to account for extra calories burned during physical activity. A factor of 1.2 represents an average amount of activity, whereas 1.5 would be a very high amount of activity.

If doing math is too much effort, I recommend using this calculator:

How many should I eat?

To maintain weight you eat the same number of calories as you burn.

To gain weight you eat more than your body burns.

If you are trying to lose weight you eat less.

1 lb. of fat contains 3,500 calories. To lose 1 lb. per week you should have a daily deficit of around 500 calories. While body weight lost is not pure fat, this can still be used as a benchmark to approximate the caloric deficit needed to lose a certain amount of weight. This does not factor in fluctuations such as water weight. Keep in mind, your body becomes more resistant to caloric restrictions the leaner you become and you will need to be less restrictive than you would at a higher weight.

Calories from Energy Nutrients

Protein: 4 cal./ gram

Carbohydrates: 4 cal./ gram

Fat: 9 cal./ gram

Alcohol: 7 cal./gram.