Is a Calorie Just a Calorie?
By Rochelle Griffin
Calories seem to create a question and confusion in many minds. Are all calories created equal when it comes to weight loss? Well yes and no. The answer is kind of a catch 22, so stick with me as I explain and unravel the mystery.
First let’s look at what a calorie is. A calorie is simply a unit of energy…a teeny, tiny unit. Kind of nuts how this small thing can drive us crazy, huh? Our food (fuel) is broken down into these units of energy and this is how our body operates.
One pound of body fat approximately equates 3,500 cal.
Now let’s look at a simple equation: If you eat 3,500 more calories than you burn in a given period, you’ll gain weight. Likewise, if you burn 3,500 more calories than you eat, you’ll lose weight. It may sound like a lot, but it’s not. It breaks down to only 500 calories less or more per day.
We need to also look at the different sources of calories. Our foods are primarily made up of protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Each gram of protein has 4 calories, each gram of fat has 9 calories, and each gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories. All have nutritional value. There is also alcohol with no nutritional value but 1 gram has 7 calories.
Whew…ok, so if we can break all of this down into math, why isn’t it easier to be healthy and lose weight? This is the catch 22 that I spoke about. While yes, numbers are numbers and if you burn more than you eat, you’ll lose weight…this doesn’t mean that you’ll be healthy or that you’ll be losing fat instead of muscle.
Let’s say that you calculated that you need to eat 1,400 cal/day and workout 6 days/week to lose 2 pounds in a week, effectively creating a 1,000-calorie daily deficit. Here’s the issue, in theory, in one day you could eat 2 slices of Domino’s Veggie Pizza for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner, plus 3 Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies and ½ cup of Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream as snacks. Crazy but that one day only equates 1,400 calories!
Is it healthy? NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
While yes, you could lose weight, you wouldn’t be healthy, you would be eating artery-clogging foods, and your energy would probably be in the toilet.
This is why I’m not a big advocate for Weight Watchers. Because the points can be manipulated exactly how I laid out the above day’s meals, you can eat unhealthy, lose weight, and still somehow feel good about it. Trust me, I speak from personal experience with WW. I had food manipulation down to an art.
I’m going to make this easy for you. If you want to lose weight, follow these tips:
•Eat healthy, nutritious foods 80% of the time. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store when shopping to make your choices.
•Move your body 5-6 times per week. Yep. If you aren’t sure where to even start, I have some steps for you here.
•Give up your soda and juices. Switch over to good ol’fashioned water.
•Find support. Whether with a local friend or online group, just find someone/something that you connect with.
•Limit alcohol to one flex meal per week.
If you follow these tips, they will work. Of course, I must always preface that there are those with medical issues who will cause some difficulty, but for the vast majority of people, results occur. Don’t allow confusion over calories stop you from achieving a healthy life. It’s right there in front of you. You just need to reach out and grab it.
To Living Your Best Life,
Rochelle Griffin, RN BSN FDN-P
Rochelle Griffin, The Wellness Detective™, is a Registered Nurse (with over 22 years experience) & a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition™ Practitioner who has transitioned her love for fitness, health, & freedom into a 7-figure International company that now helps others live Their Best Life.
She founded Your Best Life, Inc with her husband Keith after stepping onto the edge of physical ruin with her health & the health of their young son. Having experienced a complete turn-around, they now desire to give hope & support to those who are dissatisfied with their current situation.
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