Friday, 31 May 2019

In the third habit we talked about how modern processed foods are so calorically dense that they create problems in our old-fashioned caveman bodies. Today we're going to be essentially talking about the same thing, but from a different angle.

The next food habit of the truly fit is this:

Don't drink your calories.

In nature, you're going to be hard pressed to find a liquid food that packs a lot of energy. The most calorically dense drink you could manage is something like the milk from a coconut, which carries about 50 calories in 12 ounces, and you'd have to be living in a pretty narrow band of the earth to luck into a juicy coconut. For the majority of human evolutionary history, our beverages were limited to zero calorie water, water, and more water.

Fast forward to today, and you'll find a world saturated with calorically dense beverages. At every turn you're surrounded by sodas, sports drinks, fruit juices, coffee concoctions, and of course alcohol in all its iterations. 12 ounces of soda will come in around 140 calories, while the same amount of beer will be 160, and a 12 ounce "tall" caramel frappacino will add up to a whopping 300 calories.

As we saw with processed foods, our old-school bodies aren't very good at handling so many calories hitting the system so quickly. This is especially true of liquid calories. When you eat something, you set off a very specific chain of events. Your teeth grind up the food, form it into a ball which is swallowed and pulsed down the esophagus until it drops into the stomach. The muscles of the stomach then start to churn the food, mixing it with acid until it's broken down into a slush which is sent on to your intestines for nutrient extraction. At each one of those steps, your system is giving feedback to your brain, letting you know that it's been fed and there's no need for any extra food at the moment. The result is that you feel "full".

Liquid calories short-circuit this biofeedback system. When you consume a few hundred calories in liquid form, you miss the chewing, swallowing, and churning action of solid food. Your body happily takes up the sugars and passes them to your body, but none of the levers are pulled that tell you to be satiated.

This is why you can easily down 150 calories of soda, and just an hour later move on to a full-sized meal without even remembering the beverage you just drank. To put this in perspective, if you wanted to eat 150 calories of asparagus you'd need to chomp through about 50 spears.

Imagine if you ate that much asparagus within a few minutes. You'd feel pretty stuffed and not looking for another food input for a while. But when those calories sneak in via liquid, you go on eating as if nothing happened, and wonder why your fat percentage creeps up over the years.

The easiest way to get around this glitch in your system is to simply make a rule to exclude any drink that contains calories from your daily life. This leaves you with water, tea, and coffee, all of which you can enjoy as much as you want.

Challenge yourself for the next few weeks to both eat clean and drink clean. No factory-made foods and no caloric beverages. These two changes alone will go most of the way towards getting that 80% benefit with the minimum amount of work! 

Don’t drink your calories. This is a habit that pays off big!