In all of fitness lore, one question stands the test of time; “How do I lose weight?” Well for most of my professional career I believed that if you burned more calories than you took in that you would naturally lose weight. Also, the vice-versa being the case for gaining weight and if you wanted to maintain just keep the score even-steven. I advise clients that this was the sure fire way to lose the weight. Boy was I wrong. This assumption literally made an “ass” out of me.
There were two issues with my assumption. First 100 calories of Cheetos and 100 calories of broccoli are not created equal. Your body digests, processes all foods differently. Some are nutrient dense and some are pieces of crap. You make the decision. Second, your endocrine (hormone central) system is what truly determines where your body stores fat. While it is true that athletes, body builders, and individuals with low body fat can manipulate their calorie intake and expenditure to gain a wanted outcome, most people cannot do this efficiently. What we fail to remember is there are fat storing hormones (estrogen, insulin, cortisol) and fat burning hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1, glucagon etc.) and these hormones work in conjunction for a desired outcome. If estrogen, insulin and cortisol are present your body will want to hold onto body fat. If testosterone and growth hormone are high your body will wanted to get rid of fat. So this makes staying away from foods that will increase the fat storing hormones and turn off the fat burning hormones that much easier to understand. And debunking the theory of burning X amount of calories will make you lose weight. And if you do lose weight, where will that weight come from; water, muscle? Either or are not what you are truly setting out to do.
The nutrients are different and the responses on the body’s endocrine system are different. Eating sugar will have more impact on Insulin versus eating green leafy vegetables regardless of how many calories each is made up of. A study done at Princeton (http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/) found that rats that ate more high fructose corn syrup in the same amount of calories as rats that didn’t gain more weight. Suggesting that a calorie is not calorie. For athletes, bodybuilders and individuals with low body fat percentage and high fat free mass, calories in versus calories will work. For those with hormonal imbalances and high body fat percentages, more than likely this method will not work.
If it were truly about calories in versus calories out then it would not matter how much crap you ate. However, what gets lost in translation is the components of the foods we eat. Our bodies were never designed to digest milk, today’s whole grain and table sugar. For most, eating these and then digesting these nutrients is difficult. These often cause multiple hormonal reactions that cause us to retain and even gain body fat and excess weight. Works for bodybuilders not for an overfat client.
JB signing off, once again debunking all your fitness myths.
Yours in fitness