What If Your Caloric Intake Was Off By Just 20 Calories?

If you search the World Health Organizations website, you will find numerous statements saying the same thing, "The rise of obesity is because people are eating more. On the simplest form, people have to be eating more or moving less, or both.”

Let's challenge that notion of calories in vs. calories out

First, let's start with "calories in." There are numerous websites which help one track calories, fitday, myfitnesspal, etc. When entering your food, let's face it, we are guesstimating. No matter how much we try to measure or weigh our food, we will still be off by 100-200+ calories. If weight loss were based on calories in vs. out, we would need an accurate caloric count of every snack, meal, and anything you consume. On this idea, we need to track our calories we consume every day for the rest of your life to ensure not gaining any excessive fat.

20 calories. That's it. If your calories are off by 20 calories per day, at the end of the year, you will have gained 2 pounds of excess fat (1 pound of fat is 3500 calories of stored energy). Gary Taubes writes about the 20 calories in Why We Get Fat. He goes on to say, "20 calories is less than a single bite of a McDonald's hamburger or a croissant. It's less than 2 ounces of Coke or Pepsi or typical beer. Less than 3 potato chips. Maybe 3 small bites of an apple. In short, not very much at all. One or two small bites or swallows too many out of the hundred or two total bites per day, and we're doomed. The fact that many people do remain lean for decades and that even those who are fat don't continually get fatter, suggests there is something more going on that can be explained by the notion that it's all about calories."

Now let's explore the notion of "calories out." We are told that we need to "burn" that 1 pound of fat off or create a 3500 calorie deficit via exercise to become healthy. In other words, move more. I want to make sure I understand the World Health Organization is saying by providing 2 examples. If a newborn baby or toddler is 2 pounds overweight, I need them to engage in rigorous exercise for 20+ minutes per day or enough to "burn" 7,000 calories in order to lose the excessive fat? How about an elderly person? Do they need to begin running for an hour or two (the more overweight they are, obviously the farther they need to run) in order to lose the excessive fat? When I look at old photo albums of Americans and see how fit/thin they are, am I to believe all the infants and elderly were on a rigorous workout program 6 days a week to ensure staying fit? Obviously not! It's actually comical to take what we are being told and put it in different segments of the population...and to think this concept is expected to work for us as well.

Clearly our weight gain is not based on 3 bites too many of an apple or cucumber or piece of celery. Certainly the previous generations of Americans were not on an exercise plan when they were babies and well in their senior years. Clearly the idea that we have been told on "on calories in vs. out" does not add up either. What is it then?

The answer is one word, hormones. The hormone insulin in particular is a key factor which we will explore in a later article.

Written by Coach Z