Many of us have heard of calories in some form or fashion. We have either seen them on nutrition labels, or we have heard people talking about how they need to reduce the amount of calories that they consume each day. We may not understand exactly how they work, but we are all aware that consuming too many calories can lead to the accumulation of fat which, can lead to being overweight, and even obese.
Being obese is usually associated with numerous health complications, and it can impact your life in a negative way. Especially in society, as people tend to view overweight/obese people in a manner of being “less than.” Now, why does the body choose to store extra calories, which is simply energy, as fat? Why not store it as another chemical in the body that doesn’t alter our outward appearance? It’s due to the survival instinct programmed in our biology. Our bodies don’t know that we are in a civilized society with a fast food restaurant on every corner and grocery stores as far as the eye can see.
Our body’s DNA is programmed in such a way that we conserve as much energy (fat) as possible for events such as droughts and famines, which were very common thousands of years ago. The nomadic humans roamed the Earth on various continents and they were never 100% sure from where and when their next meal might come. It was not until irrigation techniques were pioneered that humans begin to settle and stay in one place. This is why restricting calories takes such a toll on us psychologically because we feel the effects of our body essentially slowing us down through various chemical and hormonal processes so that we don’t use all of our stored energy.
There have been stories of people in concentration camps who were either given minimal amounts of food each day, or were withheld food completely. The pictures of these individuals are very disturbing. They essentially look like skeletons because their bodies have used almost all of their stored energy to simply keep itself functioning. Once the fat on your body reaches extremely low levels the body will begin to catabolize (break down) muscle tissue so that the amino acids composed in the muscle tissue can be used to carry out necessary metabolic functions. \
If you are trying to lose weight you need to start tracking your calories. Once you have your basal metabolic rate (BMR), you can use this to gauge how many calories you need to be eating each day. If you don’t track your calories, then you have no idea how much food you are eating each day. Even if you are exercising regularly, you still need to track the amount of calories that you are consuming because you need to make sure that you are running a calorie deficit. If you do not run a calorie deficit then you will not lose weight.
Many people want to get around calories by talking about various diets and diet trends. The science has been proven over the course of years that a calorie deficit is required to lose body fat. As long as you are in a calorie deficit, even a small one, you will begin to lose weight. The greater the deficit, the greater the weight loss. The only problem is that running to large of a calorie deficit by either eating more, or moving more can have an adverse effect on your overall health. Therefore, the recommended weekly weight loss is 2lbs maximum. The only time this can be safely exceeded is if you are extremely overweight, or obese.
However, to be safe if you set out to lose 2 pounds per week then you you can lose around 50 lbs in 6 months, which is very good. If you aren’t meeting your daily and weekly calorie goals then you can be sure that your weight loss efforts will be hampered. In order to meet your calorie goals I suggest that you track the food that you are eating by either writing it down, or by logging in a calorie tracking app. Some great apps are My Fitness Pal, My Net Diary, and Calorie Count. These apps have their own great features that will allow for you to accurately track the amount of calories and macronutrients that you are eating each week.
Remember, as long as you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight. If you have found value in this article, be sure to share it with a friend who can benefit. Keep pushing strong on your fitness journey and you will reach your goals in time.