Hi guys, Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo. Today we are going to be diving into the truth about calories. If you would like to know more about us, give us a call at 806-322-3188.
I’ve been a personal trainer in Amarillo for over seventeen years now, and a question I am asked regularly is “why can’t I just count calories to lose weight?”
The answer seems simple enough until you begin to look at what those calories truly are and how they are calculated. First, Calories are a unit of measurement for energy. Just like we use inches and miles to calculate distance, calories are used to calculate energy. Merriam-Webster.com defines a calorie as “the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius”.
Notice that nowhere in that definition did it mention that a calorie was used to measure how nutritious a food was for you. And that my friends is where the trouble lies.
So what do our bodies use those calories for? Fuel. Energy. Function. The body cannot perform any single or multiple function without energy. Now energy in this sense is not like the energy you see from kids on a “sugar high” but rather more like the energy of wind used to turn the wind turbines. (Yes, in Texas we have PLENTY of those around.) When you eat energy (food) you provide your body the wind (energy) to function (like the turbines).
Now, our bodies only need XX number of calories in any given day (there are formulas to be used to figure the number of calories you personally need each day) and when we give our bodies the right amount of calories (energy) then the body can perform all functions properly with ease. It’s when we over or under consume our calories (energy) that we run into trouble. When we under-consume calories, as happens when people try to “diet” most of the time, we don’t provide our body with enough energy to perform it’s tasks. This leads to fatigue, brain fog, headaches, muscle weakness and more. When we over-consume calories, we provide our bodies more than what they need and since our bodies are so very intuitive, they are able to store the excess in a way that can be used at a later date (fat).
Now, believe it or not, calories are only HALF the battle! The other half is nutrient content. Nutrients by definition are a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. So while energy is essential, if the substance you are consuming has no or very little nutritional value your body isn’t able to make use of it and therefore stores it for later when you’ve introduced more nutrients. Much like if you put the wrong fuel in your car. You would be likely to have an unwanted outcome. To most, storing excess fat is that unwanted outcome. So if consuming “empty energy” or “empty calories” means you gain excess fat due to the body’s storage process, then why not just cut calories all together and see what happens?
Well, when we cut calories, at the foundation of it, this provides the same situation as before as far as the body is concerned. By not consuming enough NUTRITION through the day, the body doesn’t have what it needs to function properly and begins to shut down non-essential processes like your metabolism for instance. When the metabolism is slowing down (for whatever reason), you won’t be burning calories at the same rate as before but will more than likely be just as hungry … or more than before. Leading us back into that over consumption idea again. Something else you may not realize about cutting calories (which is essentially what happens when we start to “count” them) is that your body WILL lose weight, it just may not be the weight you were hoping to lose. The body will go into a type of “starvation mode” where it will begin to break down and use your muscle for energy (remember, muscle raises your metabolism) and it will begin to store more fat for survival reasons.
Okay, so we know that calorie is not a bad word. We know that calories are essential to human function and survival. And we know that too much or too little leads to bad things.
So why do they put it on the label anyway?
Well, the food industry is required to label foods to keep the public in the know of what is and is not in your foods. Just as you wouldn’t buy the right shoe without a shoe size on it, you wouldn’t make as great of choices without food labels.
The “people in charge” knew that and so they came up with a way to help people make better decisions. The problem is that the way they calculate the calories in any given product is imprecise at best and non-existent at worst.
Now one area that can’t be overlooked is that even if the food manufacturer had the exact number on their label and they were 100% correct, each person digests foods in different ways. Meaning that not every person will digest and absorb 100% of each food that they eat, therefore wreaking havoc on the idea of “how many calories / nutrients did I just eat?”.
So you see, by counting calories, cutting calories or too much focus on things like macros for instance, you miss out on a certain level of nutrition that just can’t be accounted for in calorie counts. We have to start focusing again on what we put in our body and what it’s actually there for. Too often we seem to put a magnifier on one certain aspect of our food without considering that there is a “total picture” to be seen. Calories without attention to nutrients is useless as is a wind turbine without wind.
Alright, so enough of the dark side, what do we do about this? We start to simplify things, we go back to less processed foods (the ones without the labels or many, many fewer ingredients) and we start to use portion sizing, balance and timing to maintain a healthy state of NUTRITION and enhance the body’s level of functionality. By doing this, we will be able to not only get the right amounts but also provide the nutrition to bring our body more energy, better mental focus, more strength, a higher metabolism and more.
Today is the day to start to make changes. Today is the day to step out of your comfort zone and understand that there is more than one road leading to your goal. Choose the one that not only will help you lose weight but will also help you to have a lifetime of good health while maintaining your weight loss.
If you would like some extra guidance in the realm of nutrition, we would be glad to help you on your journey. Just give us a call at 806-322-3188 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your consultation today. At Custom Fitness, we are YOUR personal trainers in Amarillo, Texas. Have a great day