Calories: The hidden truth

It’s time to shed a little bit of light on the subject of calories- I have come across multitudes of people in my fitness career that adjust and their daily intake and exercise regimen around the amount of calories that they are taking on/expending.

First of all, a calorie is not always a calorie. There are certain circumstances where you get more or less bang for your buck. For example, it is widely known that in Protein and Carbohydrates there are 4 calories per gram, whereas in Fat there are 9 calories per gram, makes sense to avoid the higher calorific foods and stick to cards and protein? This is true to a degree, but we have to consider the fact that if you are not exercising and consuming high amounts of Carbs, this will have a high calorific impact on your body.

Conversely it has been noted that ingesting some forms of fat actually lead to overall fat loss from the body- noted in books such as “Eat fat lose Fat” by Sally Fallon. The basic summary of this book is that dietary fat (that which is useful to the body) can be considered a larger part of the diet alongside protein as the components will be used to facilitate bone growth, boost the immune system etc.

Similarly with carbohydrates- they are not all one and the same. There are refined carbs and non refined carbs. Refined carbs have had more ‘human’ influence into them, such as white bread, white rice etc, as opposed to their more ‘natural’ counterparts that are non refined carbs, brown bread etc. The calorific response from these two (brown and white bread for example) is higher in the refined carb. Products that claim to be “fat free” or “low fat” typically have higher amounts of sugar in them- be sure to check the label as substituting fat for sugar is worse than taking on the dietary fat in the first place.

Lastly, a note on exercise machines that measure calories- this is not accurate. The machines give a out a basic reading based on the amount of time that you have trained in accordance with the algorithm that the machine sets. It does not take into account your overall basal metabolic rate which is the amount of calories you would burn in a day if you did nothing. So if you have ‘burnt’ 200 calories on the treadmill, there is a high chance you have done more or possibly less depending on your BMR. If you want an accurate measurement of your BMR then try the ‘Harris- Benedict equation’ Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 × weight in kg) + (4.799 × height in cm) – (5.677 × age in years) and Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 × weight in kg) + (3.098 × height in cm) – (4.330 × age in years). It looks a bit hectic, there are ready made calculators on the web, should you wish to have it worked out for you.




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