A Calorie is Measured Unit of Energy
Fat provides 9 units of energy while Protein and Carbohydrates each provide 4 units of energy. Keeping that in mind let’s take a gander at the USDA’s daily requirements for caloric intake: 2,000 calories per day. Alright, so if I want to follow a 2,000 calorie diet then what do I eat? I can eat 50 Twizzlers at 160 calories per 4 pieces to get my 2,000-calorie goal. This breaks down to 6.3 grams of Fat, 450 grams of Carbohydrates, and 12.5 grams of Protein. See where my extreme example is going here?
No two Calories or alike
The body does not digest or use calories in the same manner. Do you think the body uses the same energy to digest 100 calories of Carbohydrates than it does 100 calories of Fat? Of course not! Not only that, but there are so many different variations of Fats, Proteins, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, and Minerals that must be considered when dissecting how the body uses 100 calories.
Calories in =/= Calories out
Your body burns about 50-70% of its daily calories generating energy, heat, and that thing we call life. 5-15% more are burned just for digestion. Ok, so let’s take that from the top and say your body burns 85% of its calories just to keep the lights on. That leaves only 15% left to exercise, be social, stress out, or to sit on the computer all day. Cutting calories to lose weight can actually make a person gain unwanted weight because the restriction deprives the body of necessary energy to maintain homeostasis. When the body is deficient in calories (energy), it will turns to muscle for energy (after all of its stored sugar is used up (this takes about 3-4 weeks, which is why low-carb diets “work” and then hit a big old wall). Remember that muscle weighs more than fat, and those who are losing weight on calorie-deficient diets are mainly losing muscle mass and their body is replacing that muscle with fat because fat storage is its go-to in survival mode. So, it’s very possible that all of these people that are dieting and losing weight are actually getting fatter (“fat” doesn’t always mean bigger). In order to run efficiently the body needs an excess caloric intake compared to what it is burning on a daily basis. Don’t ignore your body when it tells you to eat.
The result of eating a low-calorie diet is simple: Adaptation
The body will adapt to the lower volume of foods by slowing down its metabolism, (which sends the thyroid into S.O.S.), it will eat itself, and it will cut corners so it can get by. Often these corners come out as unintentional weight loss, unintentional weight gain, an emotional roller coaster, easily susceptible to stress, mental fogginess, digestive issues, dis-eases, disorders, low libido/sex drive, vitamin deficiencies, poor gum/dental health, dysbiosis, candida overgrowth/yeast infections, or a person might be a straight up asshole (I’m serious – ever get cranky the longer you go hungry?). By this point calories or food intake are rarely the problem – it’s a lack of responsibility for oneself and an inability to see the self-sabotage.
- Count your nutrients, not your calories.
- Eat a lot of calories.
- Eat a lot of good calories – nutrient-dense calories.
- Take responsibility for yourself and how you treat your body.
- Be grateful for your life, provide it accordingly, and it will return the same.