Have you ever heard the statement “if you consume more calories than you burn you’ll gain weight. If you burn more than you consume, you’ll lose weight.”?
I’ll tell you that I bought-in to that concept for YEARS – and I was a student of human metabolism. It seemed intuitive that an excess of calories would result in weight gain and a deficit of calories would mean weight loss. I’m here to tell you that it is not the case.
I’ll spread the information out over several posts – it’ll take a while as there is a lot of information to present but the first concept to understand is the ‘unit of measure’.
It is important that we always compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges. I think we can all agree on that. So, when we talk about weight it is measured in pounds (the metric system measures mass in kilograms – mass is not the same thing but functionally the same for our argument here). How many times have you heard “I lost 2 pounds this week”? Weight is key to many people.
Note: I would argue that it is body composition and percent body fat that is more important than weight – but that is another discussion altogether!
Calories, on the other hand, is a measure of energy. Specifically, a calorie is the amount of ENERGY it takes to raise 1 mL of water 1 degree celcius. It is a unit of energy. Again, we hear “I’m only eating 1200 calories a day” all the time!
But how many times have you heard (or experienced) “I’ve cut out 500 calories a day and I STILL haven’t lost any weight!”? Again, we have to compare apples with apples.
It simply is not feisable to compare calories (measurement of energy) with pounds (measurement of weight). It doesn’t make sense. We don’t do this anywhere else.
There are simply too many factors that influence body weight. Metabolism is highly variable based on amount of food eaten, type of food eaten, quantity of protein, exercise duration, exercise intensity, number of exercise bouts, etc, etc. The higher your metabolism the higher your caloric expentiture. However, the source of those calories depends on the type & intensity of exercise and the type & quantity of food among other factors. Genetics certainly plays a role as well.
The whole point here is that body weight and composition depends on far too many factors to be able to simplify it down to “if you consume more calories than you burn you’ll gain weight. If you burn more than you consume, you’ll lose weight”. It just isn’t that simple.
More to follow on this…