Calories. The magic word. Now sprawled across even the menus in McDonalds are little numbers telling you just how fat you are getting.
Society has reduced your overall health and weight to these little numbers. Have too many, become fat, have less, become thin and healthy. Is this all there is? Or is more required than just elementary school addition? I’ll give you a clue, it is more involved than just addition, but it is not complicated. Let’s have a look.
What Is A Calorie?
To put it simply, a calorie represents how much energy a certain food will give your body. Your body will use a couple thousand calories per day to move, eat, breathe, digest etc. These calories come from your food.
These calories are also used in building your body. Teenagers can eat the equivalent of a small truck of food everyday and not become fat because their body is growing at a ferocious rate. This also means that as you eat calories, they will be used in putting weight on to your body.
Calories In Vs Calories Out
Well, there we have it. The above statements about calories being used to put weight onto your body prove it! Or do they? Let’s think about this. Your “weight” is made up of several things. Bones, Muscle, Fat, toenails… you get the idea. All of these things grow at a different rate, and what makes your muscles grow is a different process to what makes your fat grow.
For instance, let’s say that you decided you wanted to grow lots of muscle. However, you aren’t going to do any exercise, and you are only going to eat Oreos. You decide that since your weight goes up with more calories, you eat 5000 calories per day.
What will happen to you? Will you gain weight? You can bet your new enormous ass you will, but will you end up looking like the next Arnold Schwarzenegger? No. This is where the illogical aspect of this “Calories in Vs Calories Out” is very clear. By increasing your calories with junk food you wouldn’t expect your body to respond favorably, and in the same way, by just reducing the calories and not minding which calories you were eating you can’t expect your body to respond well to that either. So let’s talk more about food choices later. Firstly we need to explore a crucial aspect of this debate. Metabolism.
You have heard this word thrown around, but probably without much meaning. Your metabolism is essentially the rate that your body burns through energy. A high metabolism requires more calories to function, a low metabolism requires less. A high metabolism will eat spare fat you have lying around when it is hungry, low metabolism will store fat on your body for a rainy day.
So to cut through all the words, a high metabolism is good. It will create a much more efficient fat burning system. Ultimately, our goal should not be just to lose “weight”, but we want to lose FAT.
Oreos Vs Chicken Breast
This brings us to another crucial step in understanding fat loss and calories. As we mentioned before, a diet that consisted of mostly Oreos is going to have a much worse impact on the body than a diet consisting of veg, rice and chicken breast. Why is this?
Well, different parts of your body react differently to different macro nutrients. To build muscle, the main thing you need is protein, since that is what your muscles use to repair themselves. All the macro nutrients have different functions, we won’t go into detail here, but let’s just say you need all of them.
Another important thing to realize is the word “nourishment”. When you are selecting the right foods for your diet, all the processes of your body are going to work better. Fiber will help your digestion, vitamins help your body to produce everything it needs to function optimally. The fact that the right foods will provide you will a healthy, well functioning body is a further reason why the issue of calories in vs calories out is more complicated than people admit.
A small but important point about the importance of the right food selection is to do with satiety (how full you are) and your overall appetite. It has been proven again and again that different food sources create different effects on the brain. To use the chicken breast and Oreo illustration again, 350 calories of chicken breast will fill you up far more than 350 calories of Oreos.
This is an important point for people who want to establish a good routine of healthy eating. If you (like the majority of people) have a diet filled with sugary, salty fatty foods, then it can be an adjustment to make. However, if you are eating the right foods, hunger should be kept at bay.
If hunger is kept at bay, then the chances that you will stick to your healthy eating lifestlye increase dramatically. It also means that when you do reduce your calories, you won’t be starving yourself all day.
The last piece of the puzzle goes back to what we said about metabolism. To increase your capacity to burn fat you need to have a higher metabolism than you do right now. In essence, the points you should know are as follows:
- Eating less slows your metabolism
- Lifting weights and HIIT increase your metabolism
- Jogging, the crosstrainer, any long cardio does NOT speed up your metabolism
- The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism.
So, we now have all the pieces of the puzzle, let’s put them together to see the whole picture.
What You Need To Do
If you are looking to lose fat, then follow this three step procedure.
- Focus on your food selection and macros. Pick healthy foods, look here for help.
- Focus on your exercises. HIIT, weightlifting, look here for help.
- Now you are allowed to count calories. Use this calculator to figure them out
The most important thing is your health, and what fuel you are putting into your body. If you follow this procedure then your long term health and short term sexy body will all be taken care of.