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Do calories really matter for fat loss?

Do calories really matter for fat loss?

Yes they do. Well, sort of…
When someone asks me to help them lose weight they are almost always referring to their fat weight, not just their weight in general. I don’t think I’ve ever had a 200lb “lean” man or a 150lb lean women ask me to help them lose weight. Why? Because for the most part people care less about their actual weight and care more about their fat percentage (body composition).

If you were considered heavy yet you were lean, strong and looked great would you actually care about your weight?

It’s true…If you eat more than your body needs you will gain weight. That energy must go somewhere. Where that extra energy goes depends on what kind of energy/food you are eating and how active you are. If you are inactive you will gain fat weight and if you are active most of those extra calories will be put towards supplying you with energy and building new lean muscle.

If you under-eat, while following some extreme, low-calorie unhealthy diet (like the Dr. Bernstien diet, HCG diet, etc..) you will lose weight (initially). Since all you are reducing is calorie intake you will lose water weight first, then muscle weight and fat weight. Essentially if you have the willpower to starve yourself you’ll end up a smaller version of your size now. So if you were 40% body fat when you began you will more than likely still be 40% body fat when you are finished your diet, except now you’ll be lighter. You lost muscle, water, and fat…so now you are just skinny fat…lovely. Plus at some point you have to start eating again and when you do you’ll gain weight at a furious pace…fat weight!

Not all foods/calories are equal. Some foods are excellent for building and maintaining lean muscle and some are excellent for building out the hips and waistline. If you eat a diet rich in bagels, cereals, crackers, pastas and heavy starches you can easily consume more calories than your body needs as those foods are very high in calories and lack much in the way of protein and nutrients. Consider these the waistline builders. Yes, even the whole wheat stuff!

If you eat a diet full of veggies, proteins, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds (real food) you’ll be eating foods high in protein and nutrients. While you can still overeat these types of foods it’s much harder due to the fact that they are much more nutrient dense. These are the lean muscle building and look sexy naked kind of foods. These are also the foods the Meal Plans and Recipes in my Coaching Program are built around.

If you eat a 2000 calorie per day diet made up of mostly processed foods vs. a 2000 calorie diet of real foods there is a massive difference in what happens in your body from those two different diets…even though they are the same caloric intake. The processed foods diet will crank up the fat storing and craving furnace, while the real food plan will help you literally burn fat and maintain or build muscle.

There are many people who will disagree with my statement above. Any real professional who has years of helping people with fat loss will of course tell you that it’s not as simple as just cutting calories. They will tell you that yes, stop eating and you will lose “weight”…but since most people are more concerned with their “fat weight” over their actual weight that there are much faster and healthier options than just calorie cutting. You’ll be told that reducing the foods that increase fat storage while eating more real foods that help maintain and build lean muscle is always the best plan when aiming for fat loss. That and exercise of course…

So yes…calories do matter, but the reality is that the quality of calories you eat matter more. Making sure you are eating high quality, real food should always be the first priority before reducing calorie intake! 

When and if you need to reduce calories you should start by first taking a close look at what you eat each day. Ask yourself if you need such a large dinner, that dessert after dinner, that syrup in your coffee or that extra glass of juice each day? If not get rid of it…those small changes each day can cut hundreds of unwanted and unneeded calories without having to actually restrict your calories.

Eat real food, don’t eat when you don’t need to and stay active…this is the answer my friends!

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Jade is a Vancouver Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach with over a decade of helping people get fit and healthy.

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