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Is It Really Just Calories In Vs Calories Out?



Everyone knows that we have to eat less and move more to lose weight but being told this without any context or understanding it will always fail. 

A lack of nutritional education is one of the main reasons why people fail to achieve their goals. 

Just saying it calories in vs calories out would be similar to asking how a plane flys and being met with the response "the propellors spin and the wings keep it in the air to fly". 

Without a deeper understanding of how the air pressure, the force generated from the propellors and upward lift, the angles of the wings and an array of other things that come into play, we will never really understand how it flyes.

Same goes with nutrition if you don't understand what calories are, how they're used, which calories are denser, and if they're created equally, you will struggle to understand how to lose fat. 

So here is the low down on calories and how they work.

Calories or kilocalories (k/cals) indicate the amount of energy in an item of food or drink.

Our bodies burn calories as fuel to maintain normal bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, and regeneration (AKA your coma calories) and secondly, to fuel the exercise or activity we choose to do beyond that basal requirement (AKA your active calories).  

Think of your body as a furnace, and calories as the firewood. 

The furnace (your body) needs firewood (calories) to stay alight (alive), if you have too much firewood that you can't fit it into the furnace it would have to be stored in a basket (fat cells) until it has burnt through the current firewood inside. 

If you constantly brought in more firewood (calories) from outside than the furnace (your body) cold handle, your firewood basket (fat cells) would get full and grow.

However, if you stopped bringing in too much firewood and allowed the furnace to burn through the firewood basket (fat stores in cells) would start to empty (reduce fat) as it's not constantly being filled by excess firewood (calories). 

Depending on the source of the calorie it may also provide you with an array of critical nutrients such as dietary fibre, amino acids, antioxidants, and dietary vitamins and minerals.

We obtain calories from three primary sources within our diets. What we term commonly as macronutrients. Each of which contains a given amount of energy (calories) per gram.

Protein – Protein contain 4 k/cals per gram.

Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates also contain 4 k/cals per gram.

Fats – Fats contain 9k/cals per gram.

We also mustn’t forget about alcohol. Alcohol is made through the fermentation and distilling of natural sugar or starch so it also contains calories. 7k/cals per gram to be precise.

Calories are all created equally in the sense that 500 calories from pizza are the same as 500 calories from a chicken, veg, and rice, it's still 500 calories. 

If you were to eat 1700 calories a day from pizza and chocolate or 1700 calories a day from chicken, veg, and rice you would still lose weight.

However, calories are not all created equal in the sense that the pizza provides almost no nutritional values it is all heavily processed meaning all the nutrients have been stripped from the food.

The chicken, veg, and rice come packed with the aforementioned array of critical nutrients, dietary fibre, amino acids, antioxidants, dietary vitamins, and minerals. These are all important in helping us fight diseases, have a strong immune system, rebuild and repair, keep us fuller for longer, and burn fat more effectively.

This is why the quality of your nutrition is important and although it does ultimately come down to calories in vs calories out, where those calories come from are important. 

So remember protein contains 4 k/cal per gram, carbs contains 4 k/cal per gram, fat contains 9/kcal per gram, and alcohol contains 7k/cal per gram. When it comes to a unit of energy calories are all created the same but when it comes to the quality of nutrition, they are very different.

 Keep this information in mind when trying to change your dietary habits to achieve your goals. 


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