Are Hidden Calories Hindering Your Weight Loss?

healthy living

If you’ve been diligent with eating healthy and tracking your calories for a while now, yet you still haven’t lost any considerable weight or fat, then hidden calories may be the reason why. We often think that when we’re eating ‘healthy’ then we should be losing weight. But weight loss and fat loss are a little more more complex than that.

Losing weight often comes down to calories in versus calories out. This means that to lose weight you would have to be in a calorie deficit, in other words, using more energy than you are consuming. When you are in a deficit, your body will turn towards other sources of energy, usually fat. This is where the difference between weight loss and fat loss comes in as the former usually does not focus on composition and the latter focuses on retaining muscle. But this is a bit more complicated and is meant for another post.

Moving on, if it all comes down to calories, then that means you can be eating healthy and not lose weight if you are in a calories surplus or on maintenance. This brings us to hidden calories; sometimes the foods we eat have way more calories than we think they do. This doesn’t mean they are bad for you, only that you have to be more conscious of your overall energy intake. You do not want to waste calories on certain things or think you are in a calorie deficit when the opposite is true.

So, let’s look at some of the hidden calories most common in our diets and what you may want to be aware of. Keep in mind that these foods are by no means bad for you. They are not ‘evil’, they are just higher in calories and when consumed in large amounts, add up to your overall calorie intake. I enjoy these things in moderation or I try to find lower calorie alternatives, but I do not obsess over them. The importance of your fitness goal is turning it into sustainable habits and eventually a lifestyle. So, let’s get into it!

#1. Dressings & Sauces

Salad Dressing
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Eating a salad is healthy and most salad dressings and other sauces are considered healthy. However, dressings are often higher in calories than the whole salad, especially when you are eating out. For example, on average 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette has about 75 calories, similar to ranch dressing and 2-4 tabelspoons of that can add up. So skipping out on the dressing or opting for a lower calorie version may be a better option.

#2. Cooking Oils

Cooking oil
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We cook almost everything in oil and forget to calorie track it at times. Cooking a meal in 2-3 tbsps of oil does add calories to your overall consumption and may be the reason why you are not in a calorie deficit. 1 tablespoon of olive oil has about 120 calories and the same goes for avocado oil. You can simply be more mindful of the amount of oil you use and add it in your calorie tracking to be more accurate.

#3. Smoothies/ Smoothie Bowls

smoothie bowl
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Smoothies and smoothie bowls are considered the epitome of health. It took the media by storm as every influencer started shoving smoothie bowls into their cameras. But it’s easy to loose track of how many things we’re stuffing into a blender or how many things are added to the smoothies we buy. When it comes to a smoothie, it’s best to keep things simple and aim for high protein.

#4. Almond/Peanut Butter

almond butter
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Almond butter is a staple in my grocery hauls. I love it it my oatmeal and on toast and you probably enjoy nut butters too. But they are higher in calories than you might think; 1 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter has about 100 calories. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, but do so in moderation so that you can have more control over your energy consumption.

#5. Protein Snacks

veggie chips

Last on my list of tricky foods are protein snacks. Protein snacks are often marketed as ‘healthy’ and great for your fitness goals. But processed snacks sometimes contain a lot more than just protein, they are often loaded with sugar, preservatives, and calories. Whenever you buy them it’s beneficial to check the ingredients and composition so that you know what you are consuming.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and found something useful from it. Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or dietitian and the tips I share are based from personal experience. Nevertheless, I hope you like and follow to join our health boss community, xoxo.

Should I Track My Calories?

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We all know that a calorie deficit is needed to lose weight, but is it a good idea to track your calories? I am currently not tracking my calories, but I did track vigorously for more than 6 months in the past, and in my case, it wasn’t the healthiest experience. I became obsessed, foods became numbers, and I tracked every morsel of food that went into my mouth. Before tracking, I would suggest ensuring that you have built a wholesome relationship with food. The best advice I was given is that ‘food is a fuel’, it isn’t the enemy so stop being afraid of it, instead use it to achieve your goal.

Do NOT track calories if you have/had an eating disorder or if you have an inclination towards it.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • It’s often hard to discern your exact caloric needs, which can affect tracking and your goals.
  • Lower calories does not always mean weight/fat loss, undereating inhibits your goals.
  • Studies show that it isn’t beneficial for women to decrease their calories below 1400.
  • Calorie Trackers are often inaccurate.
  • Even ‘healthy’ calories can lead to weight gain, if in a surplus.
  • Everyone’s caloric needs are different!!
  • Your body needs energy to burn energy.
  • Instead of focusing on how many calories you burn in a workout, focus on how it makes you feel or you will never enjoy it.
  • When tracking it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating less, which will also dampen your goal.

When Should I Track?

I believe that you can meet your goals without tracking, I started making progress and building muscle when I stopped worrying about the calories. However, it does matter where the calories are coming from. If you are just starting on your weight loss journey, I wouldn’t advise you to track but to replace processed, unhealthy foods with whole foods. If you are well advanced in your progress and you’ve hit a plateau then it might be beneficial to see where you are in your caloric intake.

If you must track, I’d suggest:

  • Tracking simply once a week to see if you are still on course with your caloric needs.
  • Avoid tracking throughout the day, instead do it at the end of the day.
  • Don’t have cheat days, instead eat in moderation or follow the 80/20 rule, whereby 80% of your nutrition consists of healthy whole foods and 20% consists foods you love.

My perspective on losing weight or fat has shifted throughout the years. I’ve definitely made mistakes but they have led me to where I am right now. The biggest shift has been my mental health and overall happiness. I used to view my workouts with the idea of how many calories I would burn, but now I do it to gain strength. I no longer fear or ban foods, but sometimes we need help to view things that way. I had someone that triggered that shift for me and I hope I can help you in the same way. Thank you for reading, please like and leave a comment, xoxo.