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Are Those Calories Worth Eating

Being a former professional cook and now fitness professional, this question is always a subject of debate. 

Let's be honest, healthful food can only taste so good. REALLY TASTY food often contains high calorie ingredients like fats (cheese, oils, butter) salt, sugars and less than optimal cooking techniques (i.e. frying).

I like roasted chicken but you know what's even tastier? Fried chicken. Greek Yogurt parfaits are good but Ice Cream is even more delicious. 

The following is my opinion for you to agree or disagree with: If I'm going to indulge it's got to be worth eating. 

On a day to day basis I eat healthy food. I indulge a bit but 90% of my day is composed of lean proteins, a lot of vegetables, seeds/nuts, black coffee, and water. I rarely stray from this. My only compromise is if I somehow end up at a place I really have been wanting to try or an unexpected lunch meeting where I try to order a healthy item off the menu. On the weekend I make time to go out with Sara. Here we tend to make similar decisions about where to eat opting to support a small business producing a quality product.

I believe most people would benefit by having this mentality. What you decide is worthy of eating is completely up to you. If you're consuming these "worthy" meals in moderation, you'll end up eating more home cooked meals and saving a lot of money too. I would rather eat zero "healthy" pizzas and burgers then eat a really delicious one on the weekend. Skip the diet sodas and have a regular one once a week. All these things are a great way to live life while being mindful about what you're putting into your body. 


  • Opt to savor the foods you want to indulge in by saving them for the weekend. Instead of eating Jersey Mikes or Subway for lunch during the work week, bring food from home and enjoy a really tasty sub on the weekend. 
  • During the week eat more home cooked meal. This allows you to eat more nutrient dense-lower calorie meals. 
  • Support small local businesses, they are often more transparent about the quality of their food and will gladly talk about it if you ask politely. 
  • Have a plan if you veer off your regularly scheduled meals during the week when possible. If I'm going out to a restaurant, I always scope out the menu for a healthy option. 

Food is Not Fuel

"Gotta get you calories in! Food is fuel, gotta keep it up. Your body is like a car, keep it filled with gas and you're good to go!" - Overheard at the gym

When you treat food as simply fuel, calories, or energy you will miss out on a much larger picture about what food really is.

*Food Provides Micronutrients

For example Calcium helps:

  • build bones,
  • clot blood,
  • regulate blood pressure,
  • keep our muscles and heart pumping, and
  • maintain cell communication.

Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 enzyme systems and helps with:

  • protein synthesis,
  • muscle and nerve function,
  • blood sugar control,
  • blood pressure regulation,
  • energy production, and
  • transport of other minerals.

Folate (vitamin B9) helps:

  • convert food into energy,
  • the nervous system (including the brain) function,
  • tissues grow
  • red blood cell production.

None of these aforementioned nutrients provide fuel for the body because if you're missing key nutrients or vitamins in your diet your body won't work the way it's supposed to. 

Food Provides Phytochemicals

These are chemicals found in plants such as flavonoids, phenolic acid and stilbenes/lignans.   Some of the most well known phytochemicals are found in soy, teas, and berries. These nutrients have been known to:

  • offer DNA protection against free radicals,
  • protect against cancer,
  • decrease risk of heart disease, and
  • reduce overall mortality.

All these chemicals do a lot but one thing that it doesn't do is provide the body with only fuel for energy. 

Our bodies have priorities and will extract nutrients by any means necessary to keep you alive, even at the expense of your muscles! I'm sorry does your car catabolize it's own headlights to keep you driving when you're low on gasoline? The human body unlike a machine is a constantly evolving living organism. And as such is infinitely more complicated than a car will ever be. Cars are jealous of humans. 

Food as a Chef

As someone who has cooked professionally and stood for hours to provide customers with quality food I take the idea that food is only fuel with some offense. To some food means so much more than calories, carbs, fats and proteins. Food tells the world a story offering insight about you as a person. A parent cooks because they love being a provider for their children and spouse. For many food can be an outlet for creativity and without it they would wither away in a cubicle. To many on social media food is a status symbol of being "cool" because they had an opportunity to dine at the newest hipster foodie restaurant. Food is an adventure, because you get to try something once when you're traveling. Food is a social magnet for friends and families where you gather together and break bread with people you love. Where you get your food tells the world you care about supporting local small family run farms. 

So tell me again how food is ONLY fuel for your body?


*From Precision Nutrition