Why Calories Are Important and What to Do About It

Calories. It’s one of those words that people fling around like used tissues. 
“Orange juice is bad because it has a lot of calories.”

“Diet sodas are a great option. ZERO CALORIES BABY!” 

But why are they important when it comes to fitness, anyway? I mean, we know they are, but why?

Here is the key takeaway: If you want to see the best results as you strive toward your fitness goals, whether you are trying to lose fat, build muscle, or both, you need to have some sort of handle on your caloric intake, or how many calories you’re consuming. 

I’ll share with you why that is, then hit some ways to get you started on it. 

Why Calories Are Important

First, the “why.”

Your body composition is determined by what’s known as “energy balance”. Energy balance is the ratio of what you consume (food and drink) vs. what you expend through everything your body does. You expend energy just by lying down and letting your organs do their work, getting up in the morning and walking to the toilet, everything. Of course the more you move your body (exercise), the more calories you burn. 

If you consume more calories than you expend, then you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you consume, then you lose it. Now resistance training is the other factor that determines what kind of weight that is, but that’s a topic for a different day. 

For now, know that it’s about this balance: calories in vs calories out. 

This is why tracking your food in some fashion is so important. If you don’t know what you’re consuming, then you don’t really even have a good starting point for losing or gaining weight. 

Let’s focus in on gaining weight the way most people don’t want to. Here is how this weight gain typically happens:

Let’s say I wake up tomorrow, and I could suddenly care less about my health or my body. I eat and drink whatever I want, and I stay far away from anything that even resembles a gym. Now I like and dislike certain foods, so over time, my diet likely won’t fluctuate a lot. I happen to adore doughnuts, and since doughnuts are so high-calorie, I will begin to gain weight (and that weight will be mostly body-fat since I’m not working out). The energy I expend each day is the same, and so is my food, so I’ll gain weight until I hit a certain point and then plateau. That’s why most people hit a certain weight and stay there for a while. This won’t change until either their intake or output (or both) does. 

So, you can start a Spartan workout, whatever you want, and you will see some change because you’re burning more calories. But if you also take care of your food and drink, you will see results much more quickly. 

Picture a seesaw in a park. You’re on one end, your friend is on the other. Now if you both weigh about the same, you’ll be balanced, staring into one another’s eyes. But if you get off, your friend hits the ground. Likewise, if your friends Mom jumps on his side with him, you’ll shoot up in air. Energy balance is the same. What you do on one side always affects the other. If you start working out, you can technically consume a few more calories and remain the same, or leave your intake where it is and lose weight. But if you reduce those calories as well, your weight will decrease more quickly.  

Two Ways to Do It

There are two main ways to know what you’re consuming: tracking on the fly, and following a meal plan. 

  1. Tracking on the fly means you use an app to input each thing you eat. This isn’t hard, it takes a minute or two after you eat, and it takes even less time if you eat similar things each day because you can save meals in the app. 
  2. Creating a meal plan is the other way. You track once, prep it, and eat the same things until you’re tired of it, then do it again. 

These are the best ways. But if you honestly don’t feel like you’ll do that right now, message me. I’ve got some other tips that will help you move in this direction and get some small victories along the way. 

So there you have why tracking calories is important, and a few ways to do it. I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions!


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