What the heck is a snack anyways? How many calories is it outside today?

Posted: June 5, 2012 in Nutrition & Fitness

What the heck is a snack anyways?  How many calories is it outside today?

    I must begin by referencing a pet peeve of mine…after all, it is the reason I’m writing this article!  I highly dislike the term “snack!”… I mean really, define a snack.  I’ll define a meal in a moment…I have yet to hear a legitimate definition of a snack!  Here’s my take on what a snack is… A comfortable excuse to be lazy and/or a chance to be very liberal in deciding one’s food choices.  While I’m on this soap box of pet peeves I have with fitness terminology, here’s another term that really bothers me, “calorie!”  Here’s my problem with the word calories, it’s totally misused!… A calorie is simply a unit of measurement…heat to be specific.  So basically, lets pretend the chicken and rice you’re going to consume as your next meal renders 450 calories, that’s really saying the body will produce 450 units of heat in order to metabolize that meal of chicken and rice.  One other thing about a calorie, in the context 99.9% of us use the word…in no way shape or form is “a calorie a calorie!”   A more accurate way of thinking of it could be in terms of the bodies physiological response to a calorie from carbohydrates, a calorie from protein, from fats…it then becomes quite obvious that a calorie is certainly not a calorie (in the common context it’s use in today) by any stretch.  By true definition, yes, a calorie is a calorie, it’s a measurement for heat as I previously mentioned.  However, the age old question, or statement rather…”a calorie is a calorie”
is a mute topic in my opinion!  Let’s move on…    
    Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, allow me to define a meal; A meal is a combination of macro and micronutrients in ratios or amounts based on the individual consuming that meals goal or goals.  Yes, it’s a rather vague and general definition of the word…allow me to take it a step further and get into some specifics based on performance vs cosmetic nutrition principles, which are discussed in detail in a previous article (I encourage everyone to read it).  

Performance Based Meal: High protein (animal based is ideal); Moderate starchy carbohydrates (approx. 30g is a good reference for men, 20g is a good place to start for women); Fibrous carbohydrate- eat liberally, the American diet grossly lacks fiber, possibly a contributing factor to expanding waist lines, hmm??; Essential fats- I find for both men and women a good starting amount is 1/2 tbsp of quality oil, with most oils that renders approx. 6-7.5g of EFA’s (adjust accordingly); water should be consumed AFTER the meal, give yourself about 20 minutes before consuming any significant amount of water, you don’t want to dilute the digestive enzyme secreted within the gut during the digestive process; Multi Vitamin/Mineral (chelated) supplement is a good idea to maximize nutrient utilization, also many vitamins and minerals improve macronutrient uptake, also many are fat soluble and are best to take with fats, a meal is a great time to optimize both of those aspects.

Cosmetic Based Meal:  High protein (again, complete protein sources are ideal); Low carbohydrates or what I consider Trace carbs, the trace amounts found in other food sources (i.e. greens, nuts, nut butters, other fibrous carbs as well); Fibrous carbs- should be consumed w/ each meal, whether obtained through food sources or via supplementation…it’s critical for countless reasons, especially on a low starch carb diet (SPECIES nutrition makes a great fiber supp. called FIBERLYZE and I highly recommend it); Moderate EFA’s- similar to that of Performance nutrition…allow adjustments due to energy requirements, w/o the starch carbs the body will rely on fats more so as an energy source.  **Note: I’m a big fan of the conservative use of MCT oils, most specifically Coconut oil…without getting into an entirely new topic I would like to make clear that my personal belief is that MCT’s (in moderation, I do not advise more than 3 tbsp’s MAX per day) are a great addition to low carbohydrate diets simply due to the energy it provides the body…I like coconut oil best for it’s high concentration of lauric acid and the intestinal health and internal healing benefits it provides.  I do however believe there’s definitely a line between incorporating a reasonable amount into the diet for energy requirements and/or increasing one’s total caloric intake and going entirely overboard!!  While I myself am not up to par with other experts on this subject, I am smart enough to know who is!  Dr. Morrow Di Pasquale wrote a fantastic article on some of the enzymatic signaling and hormone secretion/signaling processes that MCT’s can impede!  I encourage people to read anything you can get your hands on by this man, he’s simply brilliant and a trend setter in the field of nutrition to which we have yet to see the totality of the legacy this man will ultimately leave!!

Post Script: Food for thought…pun intended!

    Starchy Carbohydrates are the main variable that will fluctuate for both men and women dependent upon several factors such as, body type, goals, insulin resistance, activity level, caloric expenditure, family history, etc etc.  So long as there’s consistency in the amount of carbohydrates consumed it’s really a matter of paying attention to how you feel, look, perform, and all the other aspects that come into play.  Even if you know very little about the science of this stuff, anybody can be consistent, make an adjustment…see how they respond!  Repeat process till the ideal formula is reached!  Then you’ll need to manipulate the number again…and again, and well you get the idea.  It’s an ever evolving process for every single person from soccer mom to Mr. O…if a bodybuilder trains hard all improvement season (those who are familiar know I stick by the phrase, “there is no offseason, only improvement season”) to gain 5 lbs. of lean muscle…well now doesn’t that change the amount of calories he or she burns just at rest?  It does, and it should be taken into consideration along with the aforementioned variables when making adjustments…particularly in manipulating the starchy carbs with in the nutrition program!  Note: As a rule of thumb give any adjustments you make about 10-14 day before deciding to continue on that path or that another adjustment is needed…unless something was just a complete mistake in hindsight, fix the issue immediately or consult a reputable nutritionist, someone you trust!

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  2. Manuel says:

    U B Cracking ME up! ha ha…I love it that you are SO excited and moatvtied!! I’m here to help every step of the way! Following the nutrition plan “to a T” might prove challenging..but YOU CAN DO IT! and the best news…it will change your way of eating for the rest of your life! It will also ensure a weight loss coupled with these intense work outs! You bring it girl! I can’t wait to see what kind of song you’re singing after a full week of P90X. I hope you’re still just as stoked about the program!(stoked and SORE!) 🙂

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