We see and hear the word all the time, but do you know what a "calorie" actually is? Why they’re important? Why they’re the key to losing/gaining weight? Suprisingly, 95% of people whom I talk to on a regular basis don’t know what a calorie is, what it does or why we need them? They just assume high calorie content = bad, low calorie content = good. So simple, right?
A calorie isn’t just a way to measure if food is good or bad for you, a calorie is a term for energy, it’s like gasoline for the body. Without gas, our cars don’t function properly, and without consuming calories, our systems don’t either.
Have you ever been low on gas? Like, REALLY low? REALLY, REALLY low? If you have, you’ll know that your car operates in the same way as your body, in order to conserve energy (or calories) to continue to get you to your destination, it will start shutting down "unnecessary" systems, like the Air Conditioning. When it’s 100* in The South, the A/C is necessary in your car for you to be comfortable, but as far as the car is concerned, it is not necessary to get you to your destination, so it will turn the A/C off to conserve the gasoline for driving. Your body does the same thing, but with systems that you need to live.
To find out how many calories your body needs to operate on a daily basis, you need to calculate your BMR, which you can do here. The healthy way to lose weight is to consume the amount of calories your BMR tells you, and then workout to create a deficit. But how does energy/calories make you gain weight? You’re constantly burning it off from just living, right? Not really.
1lb = 3600 calories, roughly. Consume 3600 calories, you will gain 1lb. Create a deficit of 3600 calories, you’ll lose a pound. While this is the simplest explanation of it, it can vary with things like autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, and many other things, but for most people, it’s as simple as adding and subtracting.
So, let’s take me as an example. I am 5’7" and 145lbs, so my BMR is 1450 calories. If I consume 1450 calories every day and do NOTHING, I will stay the same weight. If I consume 2050 calories a day and do nothing, I will gain ONE POUND EVERY 6 DAYS. If I consume 1450 calories and hit FORME 6 days a week, burning on average 600 calories a class, I will LOSE ONE POUND A WEEK. Simple.
I know what you’re thinking, "Well, I could just not eat that many calories and lose the weight without the effort, Donna, duh," but that’s where the problem lies. At the beginning, yes, of course you will lose some weight, your body is simply doing its simple math equation, calories in vs calories out. There will come a point, though, when your body starts to run low on "gas" or calories and it will either start shutting down systems to conserve energy (like your nervous system, causing loss of feeling in your limbs OR your eye sight will start to go blurry) OR it will start storing ANY extra calories it can in its reserves for days when you need more energy because you don’t have enough gas, therefore, making you pack on more fat stores, more fatty tissue, more "pudge".
So, you’ve made a resolution to lose weight or tone up, but what are you doing to track how you get there? My go-to is to download the Lose It app and track everything I eat, and consume half my body weight in water, while choosing protein and complex carbs (read vegetables) and lessening the simple carbs (read: bread/processed foods) and sugars. Have some questions? Leave a comment or email me to ask!