Why I Don’t Count Calories Anymore

Hi!  Welcome back.  Ready for another round of my eating for the day?  I hope so.  I also have a topic I really wanted to discuss.  Calories.  And calorie counting.  I used to use MyFitnessPal.  Guilty.  I would track my nutrition intake diligently daily and be ecstatic when my calories were under the projected ‘calorie goal’ set for my body.  Today, I have been calorie-counting free for a little over 1 year and will never go back to counting calories.  Why?  Let’s discuss…

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breakfast//Salted caramel smoothie (1 frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 scoop whipped vanilla ProZero plant based protein, caramel extract, sea salt, ice and xantham gum), 1 whole grain Eggo waffle, 1 slice Ezekiel toast, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, real raspberry preserves

1. Calorie counting made me choose low calorie foods and foods that had a nutrition label vs nutrient dense filling foods.  Ie Eating a nutrition bar instead of a green smoothie. Or eating PB2 instead of real peanut butter.  Now I look at a food and think “Will this fill me up?”  and “Will this make me feel good?”.   Usually, if it won’t, I won’t eat it even if it is ‘low calorie’.

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lunch//2 slices Alvarado St. bakery flax bread, avocado, Trader Joe’s mahi mahi burger, side of broccoli (ate the whole pile before this)

2. I started using a food scale and REALLY understanding portion sizes vs logging foods and thinking I was eating a set amount.  This was huge for me.  I would undereat carbs and overeat nut butters.  I would go hours without eating.  I would restrict foods.  I finally buy all foods because all foods can fit into my diet.  Learning portions and how to fuel my body correctly was the best thing I could have done.

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protein power bowl//HEB brand plain greek yogurt mixed with vanilla stevia and frozen overnight, 1/2 banana, peanut butter Panda puffs, mini chocolate chips, 1 Smores PopTart, homemade chocolate sauce (Hershey’s dark cocoa, water, vanilla stevia)

3. I became confident in my food choices and don’t have to double check that I ate the perfect amount.  Counting calories at this point in my journey would just be repetitive.  I use a carb, protein, and fat exchange system and eyeballing portions to understand my meals and I don’t care what the calories are.  At all.  I care more about if I am getting a good source of each of the macronutrients with more carbs around my workouts and more fats if I am not going to eat for awhile.

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dinner// Wafflewhich made with 1 egg cooked in coconut oil and topped with sea salt, melted mozzarella cheese (added to waffles while in the toaster oven), and raspberry jelly all sandwiched between 2 whole grain “Nutrigrain” Eggo waffles. Also had a huge pile of roasted broccoli slaw for dat FIBER.


dessert//1 hugh-ass sweet potato, peanut butter, ff reddi whip and 2 Lindt cookies and cream chocolates melted on top

Not worrying about calories can be scary.  Heck, I logged my nutrition intake pretty regularly for probably 3-4 YEARS before I finally stopped!  What have I learned from not calorie counting?  How to make all foods fit, how to listen to my body, and how to understand nutrients instead of just calories.  And you know what?  I am never going back.

And most recent progress pictures (for myself, mostly):

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WIAW: How to Eat like a Bodybuilder and a Dietitian

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Happy HUMP day my fellow sassy pants friends.  Today I wanted to discuss the nutrition habits I have created.  Basically, I feel like there are extremes with eating patterns.  You either eat like a bodybuilder (chicken and asparagus and protein powder) or you eat like a health nut (green smoothies and organic kale and coconut oil).  I feel like the two don’t ever seem to cross!

However, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, you understand my beliefs around balance.

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(Example of BALANCE with ice cream and cheese and coconut butter in my shopping cart!)

I used to be a strict “clean eater” until I learned and began to understand macronutrients, meal timing, nutrition for performance, and moderation.  Then, I began to count macros and fit PopTarts, sugary cereal, ice cream, Oreos, etc into my diet (which I still do to a certain extent!).  But, I really think I have found a perfect ratio of eating like a bodybuilder/athlete and eating like a dietitian and/or health nut.  Today I want to talk about my 5 tips to eat like a bodybuilder AND a dietitian!

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breakfast// Vanilla Cinnamon Pumpkin Pie Protein Oatmeal: 1/2 cup oats cooked with water in microwave for 2 minutes, add 1/2 scoop ProZero whipped vanilla plant protein and microwave for another minute, then add cinnamon and 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, dump into almost empty Toffee Crunch flavor Nuts n’ more PB container (so good) and top with more peanut butter and fresh blueberries.

Tip #1: Utilize protein powder if you can’t get in enough protein with whole foods alone, but make sure it is a QUALITY protein powder.  Make sure the protein powder doesn’t have any additives.  Also, make sure your protein is cGMP certified (look for stamp on the tub).  I tolerate whey protein powder fine but REALLY love the HPN ProZero protein as it’s made with organic brown rice protein and sweetened with stevia.  Other brands I also really like: AboutTime protein, Jay Robb, Vega, PlantFusion, SlapNutrition, MTS Whey, and Cellucor. Don’t just use the protein powder found at your local Walmart to get in your ‘protein’!

Salad bar

lunch//salad bar with organic kale, spinach, and romaine base, no-oil added soy-ginger tofu, tuna poke, and roasted parmesan broccoli

Tip #2: Eat your protein and vegetables but add variety with protein sources and vegetables.  No, you don’t need to eat chicken and asparagus forever. Nor would I want someone to eat only chicken and asparagus.  The biggest thing I tell clients is to eat a VARIETY of fruits and vegetables to get in all the antioxidants and micronutrients you need. If you always eat chicken and asparagus, you will be missing out on key nutrients!

Tip #3: Care about WHERE your chicken, seafood, meat, and eggs come from.  Start to pay attention to how the animals were raised.  Look for higher quality meats and seafood that is wild-caught.  Search for eggs that are from pasture-raised chickens that were fed with vegetarian feed.

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preworkout meal//chocolate rice cakes (3)  topped with a healthy ‘frosting’ made from Fage plain greek yogurt mixed with Caramel extract (new find! SOO GOOD) and a little sea salt

4. Eat a good mix of carbs. I have seen some bodybuilders who will literally only eat brown rice and sweet potato. Try out some sprouted grain breads. Try out lentil chips.  Try oat bran and squash and jasmine rice and red potato.

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postworkout dinner//1 egg, 4 egg white omelette with roasted broccoli, red onion, and tomato in coconut oil and roasted butternut squash (x 3 on that squash)

5. Eat the WHOLE egg-WITH THE YOLK!  Bodybuilders love their egg whites. Dietitians love their eggs.  Recent research has shown the cholesterol in egg yolks do not contribute to high cholesterol.  WHY would you NOT eat the whole egg!  1 egg mixed into egg whites makes SUCH a difference in taste, flavor, and nutrition profile.  I wish everyone knew that there is actually MORE protein in the yolk than the white but it also has fat and vitamins and minerals.  Most bodybuilders stay away from the yolk due to the fat content :( My perfect fix?  1-2 whole eggs and 2-4 egg whites.


dessert//#beltsanderbrownie (you can see more of my creations on Instagram and then search under the hashtag for more recipes), vanilla-roasted almonds, Peanut butter panda puffs, mini Oreo’s and 2 tbsp peanut butter added after the picture!

Tip #6 (An extra tip since I said I was doing my Top 5 tips but oh well, I digress): Don’t deprive yourself.  A lot of bodybuilders cut out food groups to get “lean” and “shredded”.  I no longer will succumb to those thoughts and will continue to eat cereal, Oreo’s, and healthy brownies to my hearts content.

If you have questions about my intake or how to eat according to your goals, don’t hesitate to email me.  I would love to find a way to fit your favorite foods into realistic, healing, wholesome nutrition habits: DietitianDeanna@gmail.com.

Can’t forget my weekly progress pictures as well:

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How do you incorporate eating like a bodybuilder AND a health nut?

WIAW: Why Carbs are not the Enemy

Happy Wednesday!  I was taking pictures of everything I ate on Monday so that I could create this post and by the end of the day, I was kind of sick of taking pictures of my food.  You know why?  I eat a lot.  I eat at least 5-6 times per day.  I eat my meals in separate parts (ie several plates because I eat a lot of volume) and I consume A LOT of calories, a lot of carbs, a lot of protein, and a lot of healthy fats.  I am very confident in my food choices and have allowed for more and more flexibility as time has gone on.  I also feel great consuming whole foods, but no longer consider myself a “clean eater” as I hate putting labels on nutrition habits.  Finally,  I have learned that carbs are no longer the devil like I thought they once were.  I honestly used to be scared of rice and pasta and cereal and waffles because I didn’t understand how to fit them into my diet in a moderate way.  I thought cutting out foods was the answer to long-term health when in reality, that was only creating an unhealthy relationship with food.  How did I realize carbs are not the enemy?  Well I have a couple tips on how I overcame my “carb fear”:

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breakfast//1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup pumpkin, 1/4 banana, 2 Tbsp Naturally More flaxseed peanut butter, almonds, cinnamon, and vanilla vegan protein powder (ProZero organic vegan protein) mixed in!

1. The more you cut back on calories and carbs in your diet, the more your body starts to adjust to a lower number of calories and carbs needed to sustain itself.  This has been deemed “starvation mode” by many as our body’s main goal is to survive, and thus our metabolism slows to the amount we are eating.  If we aren’t eating enough carbs, our body has no energy to pull from, and may pull from muscle as well.  Metabolic adaptation can be fixed, but it is a very slow and steady process. Email me if you have more questions (dietitiandeanna@gmail.com).

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lunch//3 oz baked mahi-mahi with Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, 1 Tbsp Annie’s organic BBQ sauce, roasted asparagus, 1 HB egg white (from Easter-almost on it’s last leg!!), grapes, and vanilla almonds

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preworkout snack//protein poptart made with a Joseph’s lavash wrap. The filling is 1/2 scoop AboutTime cinnamon swirl whey, 1 Tbsp pumpkin, 1/2 T coconut flour, and water.  You mix the filling together and spread onto the wrap, wrap it up, and grill in a saute pan until warm! Topped with mini chocolate chips and WF caramel sauce.  Plus a handful of almonds on the side!

2. More carbs equals more energy for your workouts.  So the more carbs you consume, the harder you can workout, and thus have an overall higher calorie burn and even more EPOC-google it!  This does not mean you should cut back on carbs on rest days as your body is in recovery mode!

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postworkout dinner//A banana went un-pictured while making dinner!!  Also consumed tons of veggies-shaved brussels sprouts and broccoli slaw steamed, 1 egg and 4-5 egg white with organic kale scrambled, topped with almond cheddar cheese and then a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes, 2 servings Arctic Zero ice cream in both Buttery Pecan and Mint Chip flavors.  BOTH these flavors are AMAZING!!! I found them at Sprouts.

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nighttime snack//Quaker Oatmeal squares and peanut butter (x 2), Peanut butter cheerios, lavash bread with PB2 and low-sugar jelly, plus a chocolate rice cake topped with more peanut butter and a Ghiradelli dark chocolate square

3. Eating too little carbohydrates and labeling them off-limits puts them on a pedestal.  The second you crave and eat chocolate or cereal or chips or bread, you may just end up overeating it as you don’t normally “allow” these foods and know you have to get back on your diet after you consume these off-limit foods. Also, when you tell yourself you “can’t” have something, the more you usually want it!

4. Carbs have shaped my body.  Without a consistent intake of carbs, our bodies can hold onto fat (this was my experience) and I just couldn’t cut back any farther on my carbs and calories.  Now, with more carbs, I have seen lean tissue growth in all the right places (leaner arms, toned back, fit legs, smaller waist with definition).  Without carbs, I would have never been able to shape my body, workout hard, and create moderation in my diet that makes it realistic to maintain.

You can see my most recent progress below. I like to post these to keep myself accountable as well :)

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What are your thoughts on carbs?





WIAW: Consistency over Precision

Happy Thursday!  So this is a What I Ate Wednesday post, posted on Thursday, talking about my eats from Tuesday…confusing enough huh?  I wanted to talk a little about how I think consistency is really the key to any type of nutrition program vs precision.  No matter what ‘diet’ or lifestyle you believe in.  I think so many people are caught up on counting carbs, cutting out foods, going Paleo, and restriction in their diet that sometimes you forget to look at the big picture.  Consistency is the ticket.  Even though I seriously hate that word because what does it even mean?  How consistent do you have to be to see results?  What if I’m eating healthy but not consistent?  I see ALL the time people want to make the change but just can’t stick with it.  Well, if you follow a diet for 5 days, you are inconsistent.  If you try reverse dieting but aren’t consistent and restrict some days, you are inconsistent.  Aiming to be at least 90% consistent is my rule of thumb.  What does that look like?  Well, let’s take a look.

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breakfast//1/2 cup oats cooked with 1/2 scoop ProZero whipped vanilla vegan protein, topped with 4 large strawberries and 2 Tbsp of coconut butter drizzle

Oatmeal is consistent because I love it.  I eat protein oatmeal with a fruit and 2 Tbsp healthy fat 5 times per week (weekends I eat a lower fat breakfast and usually opt for a smoothie because I work out in the morning).

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lunch// (actually eaten in a Pyrex at work) 4 oz ginger cumin white fish (usually wild-caught cod or tuna or halibut, but this is swai), broccoli slaw, and 1 Joseph’s Oat Bran High Fiber pita dunked in 2 T almond butter

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preworkout: fun new Target finds- Vanilla cupcake greek yogurt, vanilla almonds, and fresh fruit (blood orange and grapes) for those preworkout carbs! This is my meal I really like to play around with!  Balanced intake for the win!



postworkout: 1 egg, 5 egg whites sauteed in coconut oil, organic kale mix, roasted kabocha squash, 2 pieces Little big bread with peanut flour spread and low sugar jelly

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meal 5 or bedtime snack// I wanted a mix of everything! Homemade blueberry protein muffin with 1 T PB, 1 square 72% Ghirardelli dark chocolate, and a Beltsander brownie made with Red velvet Trutein protein powder, cocoa powder, and almond milk topped with Artic zero, 1 more T peanut butter, and Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Always a mix of protein (protein powder in the Beltsander brownie and blueberry muffin), carbs (oats in the muffin and ice cream), and healthy fats (2 T PB and some from the dark chocolate).

This is me being consistent 90% of the day with my eats and then allowing myself a little wiggle room with dessert.  I measure out the peanut butter but the chocolate-that is a wiggly line that I don’t want to deal with. Eat a little chocolate daily and it all evens out!

Hop on over to The Big Man’s World if you want to see more What I Ate Wednesday eats!

Are you very precise with your diet?  Have you seen changes by just being consistent?