July 05, 2010

Calories In VS Calories Out

First things first, I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July and that they enjoyed all the wonderful food that goes along with it. I absolutely went overboard with food, all due to emotional eating. I have to admit I did not have a handle on it yesterday, and it was pretty difficult to have control when I was so upset with things.

I did however have some thoughts on how we should eat and how to eat when there are days we do not exercise. Do we limit our calories when we aren’t going to “burn” any? Or do we keep the same amount of calories we consume on a daily basis? Consuming calories provides your body with the energy it needs, while physical activity burns off calories. So the key to successful weight loss is finding the right ways to balance the calories you take in with the calories you put out. When we take in to many calories during a meal the end result is Fat storage, and no in the usage of energy the calorie in intended to be used for.

So, how many calories should we be consuming? Your energy needs take precedence over all other body functions. For an adult, there are three factors that determine your total energy requirements. The first is your Basal Energy Requirement. This is the minimum amount of energy needed by the body at rest in the fasting state. It includes basic body functions such as respiration, cellular metabolism, circulation, gland activity, and body temperature control. It is affected by such things as age, gender, pregnancy, body composition, nutritional status, sleep, climate, and fever. The second energy requirement is your Physical Activity. The amount of calories needed for physical activity depends on the type of activity or work, the intensity and the duration. The last requirement is Specific Dynamic Action of Food. This is the amount of calories needed to manage food intake and includes digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food. Now, we’ve talked about that if we burn 500 calories a day for 7 days we should in theory lose 1 lb if we have not taken in more then our allotted daily calories.

But, some of you still think that to lose weight, the lower the calories, the better. Ironically, the key may be eating more calories. You can actually hurt your body's ability to lose weight by going too low. Here's why. The body has a protective mechanism. When calories drop too low (it’s recommend a minimum of 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men) the body reacts as if it is starving and tries to conserve energy. It will lower your metabolism, conserve calories and fat, and you will NOT burn calories as quickly. This results in a slower weight loss or even no weight loss. This is what’s known as "Starvation Mode." When calorie intake falls below 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, it is also extremely difficult to follow a balanced diet and obtain all the nutrients that are needed by the body to stay strong and energetic and prevent disease. These very low calorie intakes can also lead to other health problems such as eating disorders, gout, gallstones, and heart complications.

Hitting a plateau during a weight loss program is normal (though it can still be frustrating). Your body requires fewer calories to function as your weight decreases. It needs time to adjust to all the healthy changes that are occurring due to the weight loss. So continuing to follow the same eating and exercise patterns won’t work forever. Your body will adjust differently then those around you, and that can seem unfair and frustrating. To jump-start your metabolism and break out of the plateau, you may need to select a different form of exercise to stimulate other muscle groups to become more active. Do not become discouraged; this may take several weeks or months. Stay focused on all the positive things you have accomplished. Your goal during plateaus is to try not to gain any pounds back. Keep your calories around the same range EVERYDAY in order to keep you metabolism working at its fullest and allowing your muscles to grow for you burn more fat.

So, even if you are not at the gym today keep your eating habits the same as you have been. Your resting metabolism is still working hard at burning that fat and making your body adjust to al your changes. Keep up the hard work.


  1. Sometimes you really just hit the nail on the head and then smack me right upside mine. Great blog!!

  2. Yes, this was the snack in the head for not eating enough the other day. ;)