Calories in vs Calories out is not the secret to fat loss.

It seems clear the fitness industry is obsessed with oversimplifying all of the complex systems & processes of the human body. Let me start by saying your self worth is not based on how skinny you are. Of course I recognise the weight-loss goal for some individuals- and I applaud you for taking on this challenge. It is a brave decision and shows great self awareness , many people remain too cowardly to attack their goals. 

If fat loss was as easy as calories in vs calories out everybody who ever eat less food would be walking around like Greek gods. Well clearly this isn’t true since we have obesity at a all-time high in human history.

The Health Survey for England 2019 estimates that 28.0% of adults in England are obese and a further 36.2% are overweight but not obese. Whilst only 14 per cent of the UK population have a gym membership. So it is clear if  you go to the gym in pursuit of your fitness goals you are in the minority of the population. So don’t be so hard on yourself when people in your circle don’t get it. 

There are many people who work hard each day to reach their fitness goals, some succeed quickly, some struggle along the way & some don’t make any headway at all. 

Simply saying to someone or a client just eat less food and you will lose weight is an over simplification. This actually shows an uneducated and ignorant approach to the wellbeing of the client. 

When you take in more energy than you burn, you gain weight.

When you take in less energy than you burn, you lose weight.

Agreed this is a fundamental concept in body weight regulation, and about as close to scientific fact as we can get. However there are many other factors at play and we have to look a little deeper into what will allow us to succeed. 

This simplified perspective does not account for hormone imbalances, insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and other health problems that affect metabolism

Some research suggests 10-15% of the population have mild to moderate hypothyroidism; which means they may experience a metabolic slow down of 140 to 360 calories a day. It doesn’t seem like much but it can be enough to lead to weight gain and making it harder to lose weight. If we can make some lifestyle changes to increase thyroid function we speed up metabolism ; win win. 

Another hormonal consideration is women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and those going through menopause who may also experience hormonal changes that disrupt energy balance.

So it is important we look beyond exercise and cals in/cals out to understand the clients health status. This will provide invaluable information about the unique challenges involved and how you should proceed.

Here is a list of consideration to make when working towards a fat/weight loss goal :

  • Metabolism.
  • Gut health and the ability to metabolise energy from food. 
  • Hormone balance.
  • Age and sex. 
  • Genetics.
  • Current weight & current health status.
  • How long you have been training for.
  • Environmental factors like work life, family life, home environment. 
  • Quality of food & nutrition (not all food is equal). 
  • Sleep.
  • Stress. 
  • What type of training you do & how much of it you do. 
  • Injuries or physical limitations. 
  • Motivation, discipline, mindset and adherence. 

A calorie is a calorie is a perpetuated misconception among amateur fitness professionals. Not overeating is indeed an important health measure but rather than focusing on calories alone; emerging research shows that quality is also key in determining what we should eat and what we should avoid in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Rather than choosing foods based only on caloric value, think instead about choosing high-quality, healthy foods and minimising low-quality foods (i.e fast foods). 

The quality of food you eat also affects metabolism and so does the quality of nutrients being absorbed by systems that manage your metabolism.

Researchers in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health showed in a study that quality is in fact very important in determining what we should eat to achieve & maintain a healthy weight and that the notion of “a calorie in vs calorie out” does not tell the whole story.

In a study of over 120,000 healthy women & men spanning 20 years, researchers determined that weight change was most strongly associated with the intake of potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages and both processed and unprocessed red meats. The researchers concluded that consumption of processed foods higher in starches, refined grains, fats and sugars can increase weight gain.

Foods shown to be associated with weight loss were vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt. Researchers did not discount the importance of calories, instead suggesting that choosing high-quality foods whilst decreasing consumption of lower-quality foods is an important factor in helping individuals consume fewer calories. 

Preparatory to creating a coaching strategy for each client I first ask them to complete the newly designed “PMF health and metabolism assessment questionnaire” – which give’s me a considerable insight into the physiological health of the client – it’s 11 pages long. 

This insight allows me to focus on creating daily and long term goals, mindset habits and creating a healthy lifestyle. We also assess metabolism and then proceed to create a training plan, diet and supplementation support. 

Please click the link below for further details and to book a consultation:

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