How to eat Chocolate and Chips and Still Lose Weight!
Ever had one of those days?
Yes, it happened to me, and temptation got the better of me!
For lunch I’d had a 200 g serving of healthy salad with a couple of eggs, nuts, avocado and cheese mixed in, so I thought I was doing quite well.
However I made the fatal mistake of having “just one piece of chocolate”. -Which rapidly became a whole 200 g jumbo sized bar, followed by an “oh-so-good” 170 g family packet of Potato Chips!
So what went wrong? -My glycogen stores were low and this had increased my desire for quick carbohydrates and sugary treats. To make matters worse, my grhelin “hunger hormone” immediately kicked in, prompting me to eat more and more until fully satiated.
Obviously on a roll, I put on a movie, flopped on the couch and what could be better than a small glass of wine?
Trouble is, that one small glass lead to just one more, then another!
Are you feeling me here? 🙂
I weighed myself the following day and I’d packed on a whole 1 Kg (2.2 lbs) of extra weight!
I’m pretty sure the food didn’t weight 1 Kg, and if I didn’t know better, I’d have been rather depressed at the thought of having put on 1 Kg of fat.
However the truth is, most of this will be water weight as the body tops up it’s glycogen stores to be used as energy later.
-As you may know, each gram of glycogen (stored glucose) requires 4 g of water in order to store it in the muscles and liver, so a small amount of sugar or carbohydrate can quickly lead to a large apparent weight gain.
Luckily for me, it’s only when glycogen stores are full that extra calories are stored as fat.
Ingredients in Snack Foods.
So to see how this happened, I wanted to take a look at the ingredients in the chocolate, potato chips and wine.
The main thing I was concerned about for these foods was the total calories of energy contained within each one.
I also wanted to check how these calories compared with the total daily calories needed to maintain normal weight (see below).
Average Daily Calories to Maintain Weight:
- Men : 2500 kcals per day
- Women: 2000 kcals per day
The calories themselves come from the carbohydrates (inc sugar), proteins and fats within each food:
- 1 gram Carbohydrate/Sugar: 4 kcals
- 1 gram Protein: 4 kcals
- 1 gram Fat: 9 kcals
- 1 gram pure Alcohol: 7 kcals
The calories in sugar, simple carbohydrates and alcohol are probably the worst for weight loss, as they are the most rapidly absorbed and have the most stimulating effect on insulin and blood glucose levels.
Family Size Chocolate Bar 200g
Let’s get started, by having a look at the chocolate bar.
My chocolate bar contains 1094 kcals, which is more than half the total recommended daily 2000 kcals intake for an average woman.
- Protein is 7.8 g -about the same as one egg.
- Fat is 63.2 g
- Total carbohydrate (mostly from sugars) is 123.6 g carbs (by comparison 1 apple provides 30 g carbs)
- Sodium 204 mg
The total calories in chocolate bars are the main concern here, as well as the fact that a-lot of these are provided by pure sugar. -In terms of weight, 61 % of the bar is provided by sugars.
Large Packet of Potato Chips 170g
Next came the chips -here’s the breakdown:
The energy in my large packet of chips is approx 906 kcals .
We all know that too many calories pack on the pounds.
So this single packet of chips contains almost half the daily recommended calorific intake for women, and around one third of the recommended daily calorie total for men.
The chips contain 11g of protein, so that’s great, and this amounts to approx the same amount of protein provided by a couple of eggs.
There’s around 56 g of fat in the whole packet. I’m not too worried about the fat itself.
Fat gives you energy to burn and also acts as a buffer to help slow the conversion of calories into blood glucose.
Fat in moderation is good, and this may seem counter intuitive, but eating fat doesn’t necessarily make us fat. This is because it doesn’t spike insulin like carbohydrates and (to a lesser extent) protein.
The main exception to the good fats are trans fats, and these are known to be super unhealthy. However I couldn’t see any evidence of trans fats on the packet, so that’s great.
One thing to be aware of with snack foods is that it’s not great to eat fat and sugar together as they can have a compounding effect on insulin -which as you may know can lead to fat storage. So eating chocolate (sugar) and potato chips together might spike your insulin even higher for example.
The calories from fat are also considered to be more healthy than the calories from simple carbohydrates. This is because fat calories burn more cleanly in the body, and create less waste products.
Total Carbohydrate (inc Sugar) 84.83g
One gram of carbs is the equivalent of 4 calories of energy. So 84.83g carbs gives us 339 calories from carbohydrate, which is around one third of the total calories for the chips.
Sodium 795 mg x 1.7 = 1351mg Sodium
According to the American Heart Association, we shouldn’t have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. So this single bag of chips is providing more than half our recommended daily intake.
Potassium 1730mg x 1.7 =2941 mg Potassium
This is actually quite good as the higher potassium levels will help to balance the effects of the sodium. Sodium raises blood pressure, and potassium tends to lower it for example.
Glass of Wine
Finally let’s see what’s in the wine…
A standard 750 ml bottle of red wine has approx 634 kcals, and I generally get around 4 servings per bottle. (Maybe I should buy some smaller glasses!)
This means each glass of red wine is about 187 ml which equates to 159 kcals per glass (1).
So two glasses of wine can easily add up to 317 kcals!
See table below (I included servings for Beer too):
Glass of Wine / Bottle of Beer (Ref 1)
- Large Glass of Red Wine (187ml): 159 kcals
- Large Glass of White Wine (187ml): 153 kcals
- Large Glass of non-alcohol Wine (187ml): 11 kcals
- Large Glass non-alcohol Grape Drink (187ml): 100 kcals (5.2 teaspoons sugar per glass!)
- Bottle Light Beer approx 2 to 3% (330ml): 95 kcals
- Bottle Regular Beer approx 3 to 4% (330ml): 143 kcals
- Bottle Strong Beer approx 4 to 5.5% (330ml): 198 kcals
White wine has slightly less calories with 611 kcals per bottle, and each large glass of wine being approx 153 kcals.
To sum this all up, the chocolate bar and packet of potato chips each had around 900 to 1000 calories, with the red wine providing 159 kcals per large glass.
The mixed salad I ate for lunch was around 200g and provided approx 230 kcals.
Adding these up, here’s my results:
- 200 g Chocolate bar contains 1094 kcals,
- 170 g Packet of Potato chips is approx 906 kcals .
- 2 Large glasses of Red Wine (187ml): 159 kcals x 2 = 318 kcals
- 200g mixed salad for the day: 230 kcals
Total calories from Snacks = 2318 kcals
Total calories from Snacks and Healthy Salad = 2548 kcals
As you can see, the 2318 kcals from snacking almost reaches the recommend daily total calories for a man of 2500 kcals. But with the salad and snacks combined, my total calorific intake was still only 2548 kcals (just 48 kcals over the recommended 2500 kcals for men).
As I practice weight bearing exercises, I’m thinking the modest amount of extra muscle I’ve put on, may have helped me to store this small energy surplus as glycogen, without diverting to fat.
For the ladies, who have a smaller calorie limit of 2000 kcals per day, this amount of snacking and eating, is more likely lead to fat storage.
However women have an advantage in other ways, as studies have shown during exercise such as running, they can burn calories slightly quicker than men for their relative body weight. (See replies on my other article and ref 4).
The upside to this snack-athon, is that we know glycogen can be reduced almost as quickly as we pack it on.
So the following day I decided to fast, with some walking, weight training, and gentle jogging built-in, to speed up the process.
Weighing myself the day after, I was surprised to see that I’d lost 1.5 Kg (3.3 lbs).
By fasting and exercising for a day I’d lost the original 1 Kg (2.2 lbs) I’d packed on snacking, as well as an extra 0.5 Kg (1.1 lbs).
So it’s definitely possible to turn around the occasional dieting hiccup, and then some!
If you decide to give fasting a go, just a heads-up that it can sometimes make you feel a little sleepy, so please take extra care if you decide drive or operate machinery for example (proceed at own risk).
Feeling sleepy or light headed is most likely an indicator that your body is not yet fully adapted to burning fat for energy.
Take a nap if you feel like it. Or sometimes it can help to go out for a walk and get some fresh air.
Drink plenty of water, and adding a little coconut oil or butter or cream to your coffee may help too.
I also recommend you check with your health professional first, to see if fasting is right for you.
To avoid temptation, the key thing to remember here is to ensure that you have healthy foods within arms reach, ready-to-go in the fridge or pantry.
Have some healthy snacks on hand such as:
- Some Fruit eg Apple, Banana or Grapes -if you fancy something sweet
- Carrot or celery sticks with a tasty dip such as cheese, salmon, hummus or meat pâté
- Healthy salad with some good fats such as Avocado, Cottage Cheese or Cheddar Cheese
- A Healthy mixed bag of nuts (avoid heavily salted or wash some of the salt off under the tap)
- Ketogenic “Fat Bombs” -Home made snacks that aim to provide energy from healthy fats rather than carbs
The Take Home
Whilst a diet of chocolate, chips and alcohol, does hold a certain appeal, regular over indulgence is a sure-fire way to sabotage your health and weight loss goals.
However if you do have the occasional snacking slip up, don’t worry!
Millions of years of evolution have taught our bodies to expect certain periods of feasting and famine.
In ancient times food was often in short supply, and it wasn’t easy to store food or keep it fresh for long periods of time.
So when the hunters of the tribe had a successful day, we had to take full advantage, filling our bellies, as the next meal might be a few days away.
This forced us to adapt to a pattern of feasting and famine, in order to survive.
Back to the present, by building up our glycogen stores on a feast day, ironically you may find it’s easier to move into what I call “famine mode” (fasting or dieting) the next day, as this allows the body to more gradually switch from using glucose for energy, to burning body fat for it’s energy source.
The take home is if you do have a day when you load up on snacks and treats, see this as a great opportunity to lose some weight, by kick-starting a period of low calorie or low carbohydrate dieting or fasting.