For whatever reason, there are always people who want to disparage the calorie model of nutrition
Im going to explain why calories are REAL, and how to use them effectively for fat loss or weight gain
1. Food DOES contain objectively measurable amounts of energy
Im gonna give a really fast and dirty organic chemistry lesson
The reason we need to eat food is because human body requires energy to function and not die. This is inarguable.
The food we eat contains energy
Calories are a unit of energy
In the mid 1800s is when the term calorie appeared. It was discovered you can measure the energy in food by heating it, and assessing how much heat is need to burn the food up
You can read about this process in this article.
How is the caloric value of food determined?
A very good question to tackle because many people do not have a good understanding of calories. First of all, a calorie is not a thing and therefore cannot be full or empty. You cannot put calories i…
2. For humans, we need energy to NOT DIE. Our primary source of energy is ATP
Without going through a bunch of biochem, the energy/calories in the food we eat get converted into ATP
The hydrolysis of one ATP molecule releases 7.3 kcal/mol of energy
This is hard science.
This is not theoretical. Food contains energy. We consume that energy, convert it into a form of energy (ATP) we can use.
How many calories are in food?
This is determined by figuring out the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, and calorie testing the food
4. The Food you eat contains an objectively measurable amount of energy
Fat contains 9 calories per gram
Protein contains 4 calories per gram
Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
Here is the kicker:
Food manufacturers are given a lot of wiggle room in measuring foods
Sometimes up to 20%. The calories on the label are not always perfectly accurate.
Regardless they are generally accurate enough that you can determine your own individual metabolic rate
5. HOW TO DETERMINE METABOLIC RATE
Read this closely, as there is only ONE way to truly do this yourself (without going to a lab and doing metabolic testing)
-1st, you need to use an calorie calculator to estimate your daily calorie needs
-2nd, you take that number and use it as a BASELINE to set up a diet.
That means you weigh and measure ALL the foods you eat, make sure the calories align with that number, and then eat that exact amount of calories daily for a WEEK
-3rd, you weigh yourself DAILY
4th-there are three possibilites
The number is too HIGH, in which case your weight will be increasing
The number is accurate, in which case your weight will stay the same
The number is too low, in which your weight will Decrease
This is an N=1 Experiment. Your metabolism will Not be exactly the same as someone else’s
And this is where the calorie critics people lose sight of the big picture…
6. Human Metabolism Does Vary, but it does NOT defy thermodynamics
Some people have exceptionally high metabolism relative to their weight. Meaning their energy needs are higher than normal for daily function
Some people have slower metabolisms.
Clearly there are…
Real metabolic differences between people. Part of this is attributable to weight and bodycomp, as well as gender, and hormones
Some peoples metabolisms elevate the more they eat, others they are more inclined to store fat quickly,
Regardless of these differences…
A calorie surplus will still be necessary for weight gain. A calorie deficit will still be necessary for weight loss
But there are DETAILS to this that matter
7. Thermic effect and Satiation
Protein is the most essential of all macronutrients, and protein is the most thermic
About 20-30% of calories in protein are lost as heat energy during digestion
Consuming 400 calories of protein only yields about 300 calories of usable energy
You can consume a very high protein diet that meets your estimated calorie needs on paper, but metabolically that 20-30% of calories that lost could put in a deficit
This is why “bro diets” are high in protein typically. You can eat a lot of protein, add in whatever amount of carbs and fat, and you’re very unlikely to ever fat
Lean people eat lots of protein
Protein regulates appetite far far FAR better than fat and carbohydrates do.