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Old 04-07-2014, 02:31 PM   #1
Joe Spinelli
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Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

Hello - thanks for reading and any input.

Background - I am a 42 year old male. I have been doing Crossfit for about 2 years. My strength numbers continue to climb, and my WOD times continue to get better. I am close to my first muscle-up, and this year I was able to do all WOD's of the Open RX'd.

All my life, I've always drank full calorie Coke - probably between 3-5 a day. I HATE the taste of artificial sweeteners and the idea of drinking Diet anything is way worse than water. After WOD's I eat lunch and usually crave a big glass of cold water. I never thought much about my soda and caffeine intake, but I decided it might help me shed some unwanted belly bloat if I quit.

So, about 5 weeks ago I slowed to one Coke a day, and then a week later I stopped completely. I did not make a big deal about it or announce to anyone why I was quitting. I just think it is better for my health to drink lots of water, and it's not a bad way to set a better example for my kids of how to live a healthy lifestyle.

As you can imagine, the first 1-3 weeks were hard. I don't drink coffee so I missed that caffeine "pick me up" in the morning. I had headaches, I was very tired, and even felt a little sad. It was weird, but I imagine most are normal caffeine withdrawl symptoms.

After about 3 weeks, the headaches subsided, but I am still pretty tired and feel like I'm not getting enough food for energy. My WOD's are a little slower, and I actually quit 1/2 way through a WOD the other day. I felt like I had no energy.

After all that, here is my question:

I know that soda contains "empty" calories. I am not 100% sure what that means other than that they are not good for anything. Still, if you figure it's between 420-700 calories a day that I am not taking in, do I need to make up for those calories with something else? In other words, is my overall calorie intake down now, or is it the same since calories from soda don't really "count."

Should I be eating 400-700 more calories a day to maintain my energy level, or is this just normal and it will pass?

Thanks!
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:01 PM   #2
Michael Dries
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

"I know that soda contains "empty" calories. I am not 100% sure what that means other than that they are not good for anything."

It means that aside from the calorie load, the food contains no other significant nutrition. Lets say for example 12oz of coke is 39g of sugar. You're getting ~150 calories in the form of carbs but not other nutrition. Now take 2 medium bananas, same amount of sugar (roughly) but you have fiber, a little protein and a load of vitamins and minerals along with the same 39g of sugar. That's what they mean by empty calories.

But yes, if you were truly eating upwards of 700 calories a day from soda, you are now lacking that energy and it will show up in your gym performance.

Make it up with fruit or starchy carbs like potatoes or even beans (watch out for the fiber load) if you're looking for the best bang for the buck nutritionally.

However if you are looking to drop some weight you have to deal with a small drop in performance while you keep your calories low.
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:35 PM   #3
Todd Neal
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

I'd replace the calories with protein (if you're not already getting enough) and fats.

Also, when looking to go low-carb, it's advisable to ingest more sodium to prevent headaches & constipation to keep the body working efficiently during intense workouts. I know you're not low-carb, but seeing as you just cut 120g+ of sugar from your diet, I wonder if you might benefit from a little more salt. Maybe try a handful or two of salty nuts before the WoD?

Let us know what you decide on and how it works. I'm very interested.
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:11 PM   #4
Joe Spinelli
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

Thanks for the replies. This nutrition thing still baffles me.

When I was 30, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted and never really gave it a thought. Around the time I turned 40 and started CrossFit, I started trying to eat healthier to help achieve my fitness goals and help my family to do the same.

I know nothing is for nothing. It's all a give and take. I would not say that I eat super healthy, but I don't eat a lot of fried garbage or fast food and usually booze at most one day a week. When I do eat fast food (usually between soccer or baseball games with the kids) I go for salads or pitas or sandwiches.

Thanks for the help. I will continue to refine my diet and my performance and check back.

I have a bag of almonds on my desk that I snack on, but usually in the morning or afternoon. I'll try some before my WOD and see if it helps.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:29 AM   #5
Andrew Bell
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

I wish 700 calories of soda was all I had a day.

It's the one thing I just can't kick. Dr. Pepper is my drink of choice and no food tastes as good without it.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:28 AM   #6
Joe Spinelli
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

Andrew - believe me, I feel your pain. I actually had a dream I was drinking a BAC (big a$$ coke) from McDonalds last night. Damn it was good!

For me, nothing beats a big McDonald's soda. Their drinks have just the right amount of burn going down. I have been doing OK without it, but as soon as I get sick or run down I am really going to miss it.

I am not saying I will never drink a soda again. This is really an experiment for me to see if I can look better and feel better by giving up soda and caffeine. I may have one occasionally once my experiment is done. Just not 5 a day like I was.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:43 AM   #7
Todd Neal
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

Sometimes I'll put myself in the shoes of someone who is actually allergic to the food I'm craving. I find that if I ask myself, "what would I do if I were actually allergic to this food?" And my answer is always, "then I'd just eat something else, it wouldn't be a question."

In other words, if you know that you could have a Coke but you're the only one stopping yourself, that's very difficult. Instead, try pretending you're someone who simply cannot have a Coke for health reasons; which, let's be honest, isn't that far from the truth for all of us.
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Old 04-09-2014, 06:33 AM   #8
Zach Summers
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Dries View Post
"I know that soda contains "empty" calories. I am not 100% sure what that means other than that they are not good for anything."

It means that aside from the calorie load, the food contains no other significant nutrition. Lets say for example 12oz of coke is 39g of sugar. You're getting ~150 calories in the form of carbs but not other nutrition. Now take 2 medium bananas, same amount of sugar (roughly) but you have fiber, a little protein and a load of vitamins and minerals along with the same 39g of sugar. That's what they mean by empty calories.

But yes, if you were truly eating upwards of 700 calories a day from soda, you are now lacking that energy and it will show up in your gym performance.

Make it up with fruit or starchy carbs like potatoes or even beans (watch out for the fiber load) if you're looking for the best bang for the buck nutritionally.

However if you are looking to drop some weight you have to deal with a small drop in performance while you keep your calories low.
This is a great post.

It is important to remember sugar is a carb. So many people shoot for a certain number of "good" carbs (potatoes, rice, beans, etc.) and forgot about how many carbs they consume in sugar (apples, bananas, soda, condiments, etc.)

You definitely need to replace those lost calories with something. What you replace them with depends on your goals and preferences.
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Old 04-09-2014, 07:02 AM   #9
Andrew Bell
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Spinelli View Post
Andrew - believe me, I feel your pain. I actually had a dream I was drinking a BAC (big a$$ coke) from McDonalds last night. Damn it was good!

For me, nothing beats a big McDonald's soda. Their drinks have just the right amount of burn going down. I have been doing OK without it, but as soon as I get sick or run down I am really going to miss it.

I am not saying I will never drink a soda again. This is really an experiment for me to see if I can look better and feel better by giving up soda and caffeine. I may have one occasionally once my experiment is done. Just not 5 a day like I was.
I can tell you this, when after not having it for a few weeks, trying one will NOT taste the same as you remember it. I have been able to kick the habit a few times (Lent for instance) and it's NEVER as good as you remember it. Funny how your taste buds change like that.

Thanks for the thoughts Todd, just have to man up and do it. Been drinking it since I was about 3 or 4 years old, so it's an OLD friend I am dealing with (I'm sure you won't say that soda is a friend, but it's just an analogy ).
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Old 04-09-2014, 09:39 AM   #10
Jason Kelley
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Re: Gave up soda and caffeine. Do I need to "make up" those calories with other foods?

Do anything for long enough and your tastes will change.

I couldn't drink what we ironically call "full fat coke" in the UK. Diet or nothing now. The rest is just too sweet.

I used to only be able to make porridge with milk but after a year or so of water I can't go back. But I have no doubt if I went back to milk long enough it would start to feel the norm again.
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