Keep Your Brain and Body Fueled!

Whether I’m reading about the best way to manage weight, anxiety, focus, will power, etc., it often cycles back, in part, to nutrition. And not just what you eat, but how much and how often.

Just about everything I’m reading talks about how a relatively steady supply of glucose is the best way to keep your brain and body working optimally. Too much glucose, and insulin quickly pulls it from your blood into fat reserves, making you hungry again quickly and thwarting your diet. Too little glucose, and you set yourself up for brain fog, irritability, impulsiveness, and anxiety.

So how to hit that happy medium in glucose supply

You probably already know that you should avoid processed foods. Two good rules of thumb apply here: (1) stay away from the middle of the grocery store, and (2) stay away from “white” foods like white flour, white sugar, white rice, and white potatoes. Instead, eat more slowly digested foods like whole grain, whole fruit, and whole vegetables. Include moderate amounts of protein and healthful fish and vegetable oils.

Maybe what you don’t know is that you should also not eat too much at any one sitting, or go too long without eating at least something. Dr. Barry Sears, originator of the Zone Diet, suggests that the average person aim to eat no more than about 400-500 calories at a time, and go no more than 4-5 hours during the day without eating.

To help you stay within those guidelines, all you have to do is learn to estimate volumes. Then, using this Calorie Density Chart I created (if you pass this chart or idea on, which I hope you do, please mention my name and include a link to this website. Thanks!), you can easily estimate how much “fuel” you’re taking in at any one time.

Calorie Density Chart

Each of these portions is roughly 100 calories:

Ounces Volume Food
1/2 oz 1 Tbl FAT (butter, oil, mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc)
1 oz 2 Tbl SUGARY FOODS (sugar, syrup, honey, dried fruit) and
FATTY FOODS (olives, nuts, cheese, bacon)
2 oz 1/4 Cup LEAN MEAT (Large egg, 1/2 chicken breast, small steak, small fish fillet, 3 slices ham)
4 oz 1/2 Cup STARCH (cooked rice, pasta, legumes, potatoes, corn)
8 oz 1 Cup FRUIT (50-150 calories depending on fruit) and
DAIRY (1% milk, yogurt, kefir, etc)
16 oz 2 Cups VEGETABLES