September 09 , 2012
As personal trainers and strength coaches, we often get lots of questions regarding diet and nutrition, as they are most certainly associated to fat loss and performance. Although giving nutritional advice and creating diets for clients to follow is not within our scope of practice, what we are permitted to do is to state facts and bust myths about nutrition. One of my least favourite bits of “common knowledge” floating around the industry in my opinion is the whole “calories-in versus calories-out” deal. For those who don’t know, it’s the principle that states if you create a caloric deficit by expending more energy than you ingest, you’ll lose fat. I’ve heard it, been taught it, but I’ve never liked it or bought into it; there are so many other factors at play, and in particular, the hormones your body releases depending on what types of foods you eat, what type of exercise you do, and what type of recovery your body gets. Hypothetically, even if two identical people had an identical caloric deficit, I’m willing to bet that if one ate nothing but twinkies, did no weight training, and only got 3 hours of sleep each night, he/she would have a much harder time losing fat than the other person who eats clean meals, does heavy weight training, and sleeps 8 hours each night.
This brings me to share one of my favourite resources on nutritional topics, Underground Wellness. It’s run by a very charismatic and knowledgable guy named Sean Croxton (who for some reason always reminded me of Anthony…must be the bald head). Here is an excerpt from a short article that promotes a book he wrote called The Dark Side of Fat Loss:
“You see, this calories in, calories out concept tries to simplify fat loss into a math problem. This “math problem” implies that someone who knows basic math and has a little willpower can peel their fat off like an extra layer of clothing simply by eating less and moving more.
Now, I make my living simplifying complex health topics for my audience. It’s what I do. But to take fat loss and simplify it down to just “Calories in, Calories Out” is like saying “The Sun is just a big ball of fire.”
It’s a little bit more complicated than that.
But if that isn’t enough to convince you, let me tell you my personal story with calories in, calories out.
Try this on for size.
When I graduated from college 10 years ago, I weighed 171 pounds. Pretty solid.
Now, I don’t make it a habit to use the scale, but on a whim I saw today that my body weight is still 171 pounds.
According to the calories in, calories out proponents, in order to keep my weight the same over the last 10 years, I would have had to eat EXACTLY the same amount of calories as I was expending for energy.
For 10 years. That means if I had even just TEN calories over my limit per day then I would have 10.4 extra pounds of fat on my body right now. And my credibility would be shattered.
To clarify what 10 calories actually IS – it’s 1.5 almonds.
So if I just had 1 and a half almonds more than I was supposed to, I’d be 10.4 pounds fatter right now.
And yet, here I am, standing before you at only 171 pounds.
Am I the only one who finds this incredible?
If this isn’t enough to prove that calories in, calories out doesn’t work, then I don’t know what is.”
Be sure to check out Sean’s book The Dark Side of Fat Loss, follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Sean’s an awesome guy who just wants to help people, and if you have any questions for him, he makes it a point to personally respond to EVERYONE’s inquiry, and he’s answered questions from me directly a number of times. To end off, here’s a great audio clip from his podcast debunking the calories-in vs. calories-out theory once and for all.