We all know the saying calories in equals calories out which has been the weight loss strategy for countless amounts of people across the world, me included at one point.
The multi-million-pound diet industry is built upon this very foundation, now research shows this to be wrong.
Calories are not a direct or even precise measurement of how fattening a food is and even if we can measure the calorific value of a meal, the relationship of those calories in our bodies is not straightforward at all.
Recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2,500 and for women 2000, but how we can burn this off in our body which varies so much? The burning of energy depends on the amount of muscle in your body and fitness levels, but also to take into consideration is the energy used up by exercise which will vary for each of us, a calm person could burn up to 10% fewer calories than a person who fidgets – but as we now know stress can have huge implications on our insulin resistance or sensitivity.
A daily recommendation is very questionable as there are so many variables to take into consideration. The accuracy of calories on a food label is estimated, normally with either a 5% gain or loss, what is concerning is that we may consider a meal of say 300 calories is better than one of 345 calories when a lot of the time it simply isn’t true.
We now have a better understanding of the components of food, for years Walnuts and almonds had an inflated estimate of calorie content, 20% for walnuts and over 30% for almonds – that’s a hefty amount – a third out!
To add further confusion, how different foods are put together can change the rate of energy release, for instance, a sandwich will fill you up less than if you ate all the components of a sandwich separately – so the calorie content can vary depending on how different foods interact.
And then there is ultra-processed food vs nutrition-dense food, studies now show that food with the same amount of calories but a change in composition can be the difference between us gaining weight or not.
A group of people eating nutritiously dense food for each meal vs a group of people eating convenience food for each meal, eating the same amount of calories, it was the group eating processed food meals that gained weight. So blowing the theory of calories in calories out clearly out of the water.
Not everyone burns calories in the same way as we don’t have the same level of efficiency as the person next to us so an average calorie intake just doesn’t make sense. We have to take into consideration our intestines length and how long it takes for our food to get through our digestive system, as well as our gut microbiome makeup and how many digesting enzymes we each have.
I find the biggest problem with the calorie is the false hope that it has given to many. It’s given the food and diet industry millions sending sales of low-calorie food and snacks through the roof and leaving many of us so confused that we just don’t know what to believe any more.
We are far more complex and intricate and we need to change our decisions about what we eat to tune into our body's needs.
My Food Freedom program empowers you to make those changes and tune into your individual needs - book a FREE discovery call now