It’s Deeper Than Calories

Many people have often touted “It’s all about calories in and calories out,” but that doesn’t show the whole picture. If it really was that simple, all anyone would have to do is starve themselves and workout voraciously, but unfortunately — the human body is smarter than that. Hormones play a major role in our everyday lives. All calories aren’t created equal. Everything we consume has a metabolic response, and since everyone’s anatomically different, the effects vary from each individual to the other. Counting calories has been focal point for most of the fitness industry for the past umpteenth years, but somehow we’re the most obese we’ve ever been. Of course cutting back on calories will lead to initial weight loss, but there’s a law of diminishing returns involved if you will. Quality over quantity.

If you walk into any supermarket, you can easily read any nutritional label and check for it’s calorie number. Most people live and die by this. Empty calories often found in snacks and sugary drinks set off a ton of fire alarms in your gut that signal hunger. For example, eating 300 calories of Doritos versus 300 calories of Broccoli has a completely different result, internally. The broccoli will provide satiety, essential vitamins, and dietary fiber; whereas the Doritos will barely fill you up and will increase your hunger hormone Gherlin, leaving you starving again shortly after with no nutritionally value left in your system. Whole, natural foods not only provide you with proper nutrients, they also normalize your hormones.

Weight loss and fat loss are not the same. You can lose weight via dehydration (usually why the scale will often fluctuate day to day) and muscle loss. Doing a ton of cardio will elevate your cortisol hormone which in turn breaks down muscle. You’ll see the weight drop at the expense of your muscles. The more muscle you have on your body the higher your resting metobolic rate (a fancy term for metabolism) will be. If you’re constantly wasting muscle from abusing cardio and elevating your hormones then you’ll slow down your metabolism. On the other hand, fat loss takes time and proper eating. You can’t outrun a bad diet forever. Fat loss also has much to do with hormone stabilization. High levels of your stress hormone cortisol tends to deposit fat in those stubborn areas where you can’t seem to lose fat.

Fat loss is primarily dependent on your insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a storage hormone that gets released when there’s glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. In order to remove the excess sugar in the blood, insulin either uses it to store fat or use it as fuel. The foods that increase blood-sugar and insulin are high-sugar, carb foods. Refined sugar, white flour, and grains all put you at a metabolic pitfall especially if your insulin hormone isn’t sensitive. We desensitize ourselves and become insulin resistent from incessant consumption and overeating simple carbs. Sugar is everywhere and it’s profitable from it’s addictive properties and lengthy shelf life. The food industry is privy to this which is exactly why it’s advertised ad nauseam. Skinny people have great insulin sensitivity and obese people usually suffer from a metabolic syndrome such as insulin resistance or leptin resistance. You can repair yourself and lose fat by eating healthy fats, lean proteins, complex carbs, and by restricting the time you eat i.e, eating from 12-8pm then fast the remaining hours a couple times a week.

On paper, calorie restriction should seem like a surefire way to lose weight right? Just eat less calories a day and workout more, that way you’ll be in a negative energy balance thus the weight will just come off. It’s deeper than that though. Just remember, there’s always a trade off and there’s no free lunches in life. Everything has a reaction and a consequence. To illuminate this fallacy, let me give you a notable example. Contestants on the show “Biggest Loser” were tracked 6 years after participating and losing a wide range of weight. One contestant lost 239 pounds in 7 months. Weight loss that’s done that swiftly is never good because your body is yearning to get back to its body set point, so you have to diligently observe and outsmart your body which your willpower isn’t equipped for. But back to the biggest loser contestants. These people all lost over hundred pounds by severely restricting their calories and working out nonstop. 6 years later, almost all of them had regained the weight and some with interest. What had happened overtime is that their thyroid gland which is the regulator of your metabolism, slowed down. Your body does this when it senses something going awry, so it starts making it harder for you to burn fat in prevention of withering away and food then has double the metabolic response. Their hormones became wonky and food eventually just stuck because it wasn’t being burned as efficiently.

The human body is a complexed machine. Sleep is the best hormone stabilizer. We evolved over millions of years to adapt to our surroundings and to stay true to our genetic and molecular structure. Understanding your body and what your sensitive to will put you in fine health. Calories are just a piece of the puzzle to losing weight. The myriad variables that contribute to your health are all necessary because Rome was not built in a day. Balance and moderation is key. Stepping outside your comfort zone and treating your body as if it’s the only one you’ll ever have will prompt you to act accordingly and healthfully. body-is-a-machine