food and nutrition Oct 10, 2016
We hear about calories and low calorie snacks all the time, what is this all about anyway?
The calorie is the unit of energy that keeps the human body alive and functioning. Food consists of three macronutrients - Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates. Each gram of carbohydrates or protein is approximately equal to 4 calories, while each gram of fat equals 9 calories.
While I would like to say that the weight of the body changes according to one simple principle: The number of calories consumed vs. the number of calories burnt ... I can't because not all calories are created equal and there are many factors that contribute to calorie burn.
This is why I hate counting calories and prefer portion control.
In fact, there are 6 Major Reasons Why a Calorie is Not a Calorie, but ultimately, if you want burn more than you're taking in, there are 2 factors that can a play a vital role in determining this.
Resting metabolic rate (RMR)
RMR is simply the number of calories burnt by the human body at rest just to keep the organs functioning and the vital processes occurring. A lot of factors control the RMR including age, sex, height and weight (more specifically: lean body mass). Unfortunately, RMR can decrease naturally as we grow older, but can be highly affected by the amount of muscles a person has - the more muscular the person, the higher RMR he/she has and consequently, more calories burnt. RMR can be calculated through formulas created by health experts found on many websites and forums.
Every single movement we perform burns calories; however it is very hard to accurately calculate how many calories we burn by doing these activities because we do not do the same activities for the same length of time or even on a daily basis. Generally health experts have decided to make an estimation of calories burnt by physical activities performed by any person to be 30% of his/hers RMR, for instance: if a person has a RMR of 1500 calories then this persons physical activity is in the range of 450 calories to make a total of 1950 calories daily.
To get an approximation (because remember there are many factors that go into a calorie) of how many calories to eat, eating exactly the number of calories you burn is going to keep your weight steady (maintenance level), deducting or adding to this number of calories is needed if a change in the weight is desired.
To gain weight (while bulking to build muscles), slightly eat above maintenance level of calories (usually between 250-500), and if wanting to lose weight, deduct 250-500 calories from the daily caloric intake.
While decreasing the caloric intake according to the above instructions can be successful for decreasing weight, it may not be as successful as it seems for another task which is decreasing fat. The numbers on the scale are not enough to decide whether or not an actual fat loss has occurred.
Usually a caloric deficit will result in catabolism which is a decrease in the muscle mass which is very important not only for looking good, but also for the weight loss process itself as muscle mass increases RMR. So scientists and health experts highly recommend a weight training regimen to be associated with diet changes for optimum fitness results.