Updated: Jan 6
The superfood craze: why “super” foods may not always be the best choice.
Superfoods are buzzwords in health circles right now.
From Buddha bowls to raw energy balls to goji berries, it seems that everyone is jumping on the health food train.
With their 100% natural, whole food tag line they must be super, right?
More importantly, it might be these ‘super’ foods that are inhibiting your fat loss goals.
Stop thinking about ‘healthy’ vs ‘unhealthy’ foods.
Now, we’re certainly not saying that these ‘super’ foods aren’t good for you. Unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods are what we recommend should make up the bulk of your diet.
In addition to containing a multitude of vitamins and minerals, they’re the foods that make you feel energised, are better for digestion, healthy gut function and overall health.
That said, it’s important to steer clear of branding certain foods as healthy and by virtue demonising ‘unhealthy’ foods.
Your nutrition should be balanced – and that doesn’t mean leaving out food groups or never letting chocolate or pizza pass your lips (you'll be pleased to know!)
Fat loss ultimately boils down to energy balance.
The key is to make sure that your energy balance (calories from food vs. energy expenditure) is in line with your goals. I.e. if you are trying to lose weight you consume less total calories than the energy you expend. This is best done through a sensible calorie deficit and a little bit more movement. e.g. 1500 kcal per day + no cardio, by reducing your intake to 1450-1500 and adding a 30-minute run once a week you’ve put yourself in a deficit. Or, if tracking calories isn’t your thing, have one square of chocolate after dinner instead of two or forego the extra spoonful of peanut butter in your porridge.
Healthy food calories still count
This is one of the most important points to note and is where most people go wrong. They think they're eating healthy, but aren’t losing fat.
Just because a particular food comes with fantastic health benefits, it doesn’t give us licence to eat as much of it as we want. Calories are calories and when it comes to body fat, your body isn’t going to distinguish the difference between an avocado and a chocolate bar.
Fats are more calorie-dense compared to carbohydrate and protein (9kcals per gram vs. 4kcals respectively) so it’s worth being aware of how quickly the calories add up here.
You might be surprised by some of the calorie amounts in the foods that on the surface seem to be ‘super’ but are actually adding a lot of calories to your daily intake.
Here are some examples of highly calorific "superfoods":
A. Bounce ball: 207 kcals vs. curly wurly: 118 kcals
B. Goji berries 28g (5 tsp) 97kcals vs. strawberries 100g: 33 kcals
C. Half a medium avocado: 120 kcals
D. tbsp coconut oil: 120 kcals / olive oil 120 kcals / 120 kcal sunflower oil
C. M&S nut assortment snack (70g): 452kcals
So, the next time you’re in your favourite deli eyeing up the smoked mackerel salad with eggs, avocado, pine nuts and an olive oil dressing, consider your goals and whether that is actually the right option for you.
Check out our nutrition E-book here!