If you have embarked on a weight loss journey, you will have heard of the importance of ‘calories in vs. calories out’. This concept is based on the fact that, so long as you are eating fewer calories than your body is burning, you will, successfully, lose weight.
However, on the other hand, some people also insist that the type of foot that you are eating matters more than the calories that the food contains – both for weight loss and for long-term health benefits.
In this article, we will give you all the information that you might need on the ‘calories in vs. calories out’ model and whether it really matters.
The ‘Calories in vs. Calories Out’ Model
The ‘calories in versus calories out’ model is based on the fact that in order to maintain your weight, the number of calories that you eat should match the number of calories that your body expends. ‘Calories in’ here refers to the food you eat while ‘calories out’ refers to the number of calories that you burn during the day.
There are three main processes that work to burn calories:
- Basic metabolism: your body uses most of the calories that you get from food to perform its basic functions such as your heartbeat. This is referred your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
- Digestion: roughly 10 to 15% of the calories that you consume throughout the day is used for digestion, known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). This will differ according to the foods that you eat.
- Physical activity & exercise: the remaining calories from your diet are used to fuel you when you are performing exercise such as workouts, and also while performing your daily tasks such as walking your dog, cleaning the house, reading, etc.
When the calories that you consume from your food is equal to the number of calories that you burn to perform metabolism, digestion, and exercise, you will maintain your weight.
You will need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight and that is the whole basis of losing fat.
Being in a calorie deficit
There really is no other way – for you to lose weight, you will need to eat fewer calories than your body burns throughout the day. Once your body’s energy levels are met, the extra calories will be saved for future use. Some will be saved in your muscles, but most will be transformed into fat. This means that eating more calories than your body needs will cause you to gain weight while eating less than you need will cause you to lose weight.
While some researchers make it seem that what you eat is more relevant than how much you eat, this premise is simply not true for weight loss. Although eating healthier foods is always beneficial, weight loss still relies on the premise of eating fewer calories than you burn, irrespective of what you eat.
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Focusing on health
While the ‘calories in vs. calories out’ is needed for weight loss, not all calories are considered the same when it comes to your health. Different foods have different effects on various processes in your body, regardless of their calorie contents.
Different foods can affect your hormone levels; glucose and fructose are good examples. A diet that is too rich in fructose is linked to insulin resistance, an increase in blood sugar levels, and higher triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels when compared to a diet that provides the same number of calories from glucose.
The kind of fat that is included in your diet will have a different effect on your hormone. A diet that is rich in polyunsaturated fats can boost fertility in women. On another note, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats may lower your risk of heart disease, even though both types of fats provide the same calories per gram.
Feeling full after certain foods but not others?
This all boils down to your nutrient intake. A 100-calorie serving of beans will reduce your hunger levels more effectively than the same calories of candy. Food that is rich in fibre or protein tends to be more filling than foods that contain a lower amount of these nutrients. Sweets and snacks will have you overeating in no time, and they are more likely to distract you from your weight loss goals.
The number of nutrients a food has per calorie will vary. Foods that are nutrient-dense will contain a high number of vitamins, minerals, and prove to be more beneficial when compared to less nutrient-dense foods. For example, fruits are more nutrient-dense than doughnuts. When compared on a calorie-per-calorie basis, the fruit will provide a larger dose of vitamins and minerals.
Other examples of nutrient-dense foods include whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fish, meat, poultry, seeds, and unsalted nuts.
Processed foods include white pasta, soda, sweets, and alcohol and they are considered to have a low nutrient density.
Diets that are heavily based on nutrient-dense foods are linked with a lower risk of chronic diseases and might help you to live a longer and fuller life.
When looking at the ‘calories in vs. calories out’ model, this refers to weight loss. Ultimately, you will lose weight if you consume fewer calories than your body burns, irrespective of the food that you consume.
However, when it comes to your health, this model does not take into account nutrient density. Focusing solely on losing weight might get you to miss the bigger picture so we advise that you take all things into consideration.
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