Why Calories Don’t Matter

Ok, ladies, we’ve all seen that photo of ourselves. You know, that one that completely horrifies you and makes you realize you’ve gained a few extra pounds seemingly overnight. Suddenly you’re on an unsustainable crash diet and exercising like a mad woman all to keep your calories under a certain number. We’ve all heard it, “Calories in, calories out.” Simple enough; eat less, move more and the weight will melt off like butter in the sun. So why doesn’t that happen? Why do we find ourselves bingeing on empty carbs uncontrollably and eventually gaining whatever weight we managed to lose back and then some? Meanwhile, you see thin or muscular people seeming to eat like horses while still maintaining their physic. How the heck do they do it?

There’s no real simple answer since various factors play a part in how the body burns fat. But the short-oversimplified answer would be food quality matters over caloric quantity. Now let me start by saying that I’m not 100% against the calories in vs out theory. Technically, the theory is true. Calories are the energy source that sustains us day and night. Overeating, or consuming more calories than your body burns, results in increased fat storage or weight gain. But let’s look at this theory a little deeper. Let’s say a set of twins, same height and weight decide to cut the same number of calories putting them both at a 500-calorie deficit each day; but one eats mainly fried foods and sugars to meet their caloric requirement, while the other eats, whole grains, veggies, and lean proteins. Who would you expect would have lost the most over a month? “Calories in vs calories out,” says they should both have lost the same amount. Is that logical? Absolutely not!

Our bodies are much more complex than that. The quality of the food we eat matters so much more than the caloric value because our bodies metabolize different foods in different ways. For example, sugar and carbs trigger your blood sugar to rise quickly where fats or protein would trigger a more gradual increase. Constantly eating a diet full of processed carbs and sugar causes continuous insulin spikes; which can lead to damaged hormones (leptin and insulin). This can eventually can lead to weight gain due to increased appetite and fat storage. So regardless of the number of calories you consume, if the foods you are eating regularly are triggering a negative hormone response, you will struggle with weight management. Dr. Peter Attia does a great job at breaking down the science in this article. To sum it up, calories is only one part of the whole picture. Food quality is a key variable that directly affects the way our bodies store and burn fat. So, the next time you decide you need to lose weight, keep this in mind. Being overweight is a result of how specific nutrients from the foods you’re eating have affected your hormones over time and caused your body to store fat instead of using it for energy. Stop counting calories and address the hormone issues by eating a balanced diet full of good quality foods so your body can naturally manage calories for you.

What are some foods that you are eating regularly that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts?

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