Banking Calories

Suppose you're on a diet and you're going to have a dinner or a holiday party. You're expecting a big meal to be served for dinner, and there's going to be an open bar with lots and lots of "party snacks." You're not sure if there's going to be any healthy food there, but you're sure you'll be in a festive, party mood! What are you going to do? Do you have to cut back on your diet earlier that day to make room for the big feast?




What I've just described is commonly known as "calorie banking," which is analogous to saving calories like money because you're going to consume more later, and it's a very common dietary practice. But, if you really take your diet and fitness goals seriously, then the answer is no, you should NOT "bank calories! Here's why and what you should do instead is this:



First of all, if you're really honest with yourself, you have to admit that there's almost always something safe to eat at any event. Do you know those tables you see at holiday parties filled with yards of chips, dips, pretzels, cookies, salami, candies, cheese, beer, liquor, and an almost endless range of other goodies? Okay, have you noticed that normally there is a tray full of carrot sticks, cauliflower, celery, nuts, turkey breast, and other healthy snacks?



Wherever you are, you always have choices, so make the best choice you can make, based on whatever options you have. If nothing else, instead of consuming a huge portion, you can choose to eat a small portion of "party foods."

When you skip meals or consume less early in the day for a big night party, you think only in terms of calories, but I deprive you of the important nutrition that you need all day long in terms of protein (amino acids), carbohydrates, essential fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that come from healthy foods, as well as the tiny, frequent meals required to store your metabolism furnace.

Not only that, but eating less early in the day is more likely to increase your appetite in anticipation of overeating later, causing you to binge or eat much more than you thought when the banquet arrives in the night.

Eating healthy food earlier in the day is likely to fill you up and in the evening you'll be less likely to over-eat. High fiber foods, healthy fats and especially lean protein appear to suppress the most of your appetite.

I don't like the idea of "bank calories." The body just doesn't work that way-it tries to aim for equilibrium by changing the appetite to the point that you end up eating the same overall amount of calories.

Even if it worked the way you wanted it, why would you eat less (starve) in an attempt to burn more fat, then overeat (binge) and restore the fat? Why, first, allow yourself to put on fat?

A hungry and bingeing habit will most likely cause more damage than an occasional over-sized meal. Some dietitians might even suggest such conduct borders on disordered eating.

A better approach is to continue throughout the day on the regular menu of healthy foods and small meals-business as usual-and then go ahead and treat yourself to a "cheat meal" but keep your servings low.

It should be a great relief to know that on special occasions, whether it is a party, a restaurant meal, a banquet or a holiday dinner, you can eat whatever you want with little or no ill effect on body composition, as long as you respect the calorie balance law. You CANNOT eat and binge, however, and do not wait to reap negative consequences.

For order to burn fat and be safe, you don't have to be a "party pooper" or deprive yourself absolutely of the food you love, but you need the discipline to stick to your regular meal plan most of the time and monitor your portion sizes all the time.

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