Do Calories Really Matter Much?
There are those that say that calories don’t count and to just eat right. Right or wrong?…OK, it’s a trick question.
Yes, calories do matter. They’re the basic unit of energy. Eat more “energy” than your body needs that particular day and you’ll store it for “energy” later. That could mean stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen (sugar) or deposited into your fat cells. Don’t eat enough calories and your body “pulls” energy from it’s stores, thereby creating a caloric deficit.
Here’s the deal though.
If you’ve not been eating supportively, then making simple changes to the type, quantity, quality and frequency of your eating will yield positive fat loss results without actually keeping track of your calories. BUT…there will come a time when you’ll need to make a few adjustments or you’ll hit a plateau from eating the same caloric intake for too long a period.
Ok…first off, let’s talk Portion Control.
If you’re eating out, it typically means eat 1/2 of what they serve you. Restaurant servings are WAY too big for a female and especially if you’re wanting to lose body fat. If you’re a 250lb male bodybuilder, then maybe you can get away with eating the full serving they give you, but I’m assuming that’s not you.
The saying, “don’t eat until you’re full”, is an accurate statement. Eat until you’re not hungry anymore, not until you’re full. If you eat too fast, your bodies natural “fullness” indicators won’t register that you’ve had enough food yet. My advice…slow down your eating and enjoy your meal. You’ll not only feel more satisfied on less food, but actually enjoy your food more. The BMJ (British Medical Journal) published a 2008 Japanese study that reported:
“Eating until full and eating quickly are associated with being overweight in Japanese men and women, and these eating behaviours combined may have a substantial impact on being overweight”.
BMJ 2008; 337:a2002
Being conscious of where your calories are coming from is also important. A common “no-no” I see people doing is using far too much dressing when eating a salad. Even though an olive oil based dressing is better for you than traditional dressings containing lots of additives, preservatives, etc…it’s NOT when you’re using 3-4 tablespoons of it! Simply keep your dressing on the side and dip your fork before each bite. By eliminating 2 tbsp of dressing, you’re dropping 250 fat calories. That’s about a ½ hour worth of challenging exercise in two tablespoons of dressing…OUCH!!
The “NEVER FAIL” Calorie Equation…..
Exercise increases the amount of calories your body burns each day. If you also make sure to eat fewer calories than your body burns…”POOF!”, you’ll burn fat. Simple, right? It’s a scientific fact that a caloric deficit will yield fat loss. Period, point blank, put a stamp on it…take it to the bank! BUT, here’s where many women get it wrong.
First, figure out your caloric needs. For most women looking to lose fat, a caloric intake of 10 x body weight puts them in the ballpark of calories they need. So, for example, a 150lb women looking to lose body fat and get leaner would need approximately 1500 calories each day to start losing body fat. Couple that intake with an effective exercise program and your body will have no choice but to burn off excess body fat for energy.
Ok then, here’s the rub.
You can’t lower your calories too low for too long or your body will scream “I’m Starving To Death”!
So what happens then? Your BODY FAT loss hits a major road block.
Seriously…caloric intake has to be at maintenance or slightly below the majority of the time or you run a very high risk of losing muscle, gaining fat, having zero energy and permanently affecting your metabolism in a bad way. Everyone’s resting metabolic rate is different based on genetics, eating habits and fitness levels. So the above suggestion is just that, a suggestion. It’s been a fairly accurate starting point for most, but remember that your body may react differently and you may need to make some adjustments along the way. Start there and see how you respond.
It’s always the best approach to use a combination of activity (boot camp) and a slight caloric deficit as your deficit “creators”. Cutting calories too low for too long will yield less than optimal results in the long run.
Like I mentioned above, calories are kind of like your thermostat. Turn up your caloric intake and you’re running hot (metabolism is burning up calories)….turn down your calories and your metabolism cools off (slows down). Keeping a “HEALTHY” metabolism by eating protein containing meals, vegetables, some fruit and maybe a few nuts and seeds somewhere at or near maintenance levels will allow you to keep it turned up, ready to gobble up any food (energy) you ingest. Couple that with metabolic resistance exercise a few times per week and you can turn your thermostat WAY up!
That’s how you lose FAT…force your body to use stored energy by controlling the “energy” (calories) you put in it.
In the next day or so, I’ll chat about something I’ve touched on over the years to help accelerate our clients fat loss results. It can help create a larger caloric deficit and actually allow you to eat so called “cheat” foods without feeling guilty about it. There, of course, are some guidelines to make it effective, but the principles are simple to follow and can be followed for a lifetime of weight management.
I’ll address some of the positives and negatives of following this type of lifestyle eating plan. Does it work, no question about it. Is it for you…could be…maybe not.