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 


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

High protein intake DOES boost metabolism

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. 

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