Calorie In vs. Calories Out
“Calories in versus calories out does not matter.”
This is a quote by a best selling diet book author and nutrition “expert.” You are not overweight due to the number of calories you consume, you are overweight because you have a slow metabolism. Rev up your metabolism and your problem is solved. It is that simple.
This is another example of the “you do not have to think about what you eat” school of diet and nutrition. Eat all the right foods and the calories will take care of themselves. In a way that is correct. People on a vegetarian diet can eat more food than people on an animal or meat based diet, because most plants are low in fat and therefore low in calories.
But there are cultures were meat is the primary source of food and obesity is scarce or nonexistent. How can this be?
Equations estimating the number of calories your body needs, and I emphasize estimate, rely on three components:
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- Voluntary Physical Activity (VPA)
Basil Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to maintain bodily functions; respiration, heart beat, brain activity and more. It accounts for about 60 percent of the calories you burn daily. When you eat, your body must convert the food to nutrients it can use or fat. About 10 percent of the calories you eat is used for digestion.
The remaining 30 percent is for voluntary muscular active. What is commonly referred to as physical activity. The more physically active you are, the more muscle to fat you’ll have and the higher your metabolism since muscle burns more calories than fat.
Sedentary people have slower metabolisms, so their BMR is lower. Do not confuse BMR with BMI (body was index). Many factors affect your BMR. You can read more about BMR by clicking this link.
The 2000 Calorie Body – Fit or Fat?
A person needing 2,000 calories per day uses the calories in the following way:
- BMR: 1,200 calories
- VPA: 600 calories
- Digestion: 200 calories
You won’t lose weight by just eating more food since only 1 out of every 10 calories you eat is for digestion.
But, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may not burn 600 calories a day. At 5 calories per minute, about what you burn walking or riding a bicycle, you need 120 minutes of physical activity. That is two hours of walking, biking or other activity per day. If you normally get 12 minutes of daily physical activity, that leaves 500 extra calories. That 500 extra calories is converted to body fat until you have a body that burns 2,000 calories but has about 50 pounds of excess fat. And that is on a 2,000 calorie diet, about the number of calories in a fast food breakfast muffin sandwich and lunch or dinner of a large hamburger, large fried potatoes and large sugar sweetened soda. That assumes you do not refill your large soda. Thrown in dinner, dessert, drinks and snacks and it only gets worse.
You can use my free calorie estimator (requires MS Excel or equivalent) to estimate the number of calories your body needs and what steps you must take to lose or maintain your weight.
Diet experts want you to believe their diet plan is simple, effective and will help you lose all the weight you need. Usually, their conclusions are based on faulty science or no science. They know what most overweight Americans want:
- A simple plan that is easy to follow.
- Promise of huge weight loss in a short period of time.
- No change in physical activity level.
- Increase energy, alertness and sexual performance.
- No thinking required.
A Mediterranean diet has proven health benefits, but it is not a quick-fix weight loss program so there is no profit incentive promoting it. Fad diets are huge money makers. They promise you everything and usually deliver very little.
Remember when you see “Results Not Typical” in small print, fad diets only promise you will lose weight not that you will lose fat. The promise of weight loss is questionable.
Calories matter and an understanding of the right diet for you to maintain a healthy body. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.”