Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Calorie is a Calorie, or is it?

This is a trick question, the answer is yes and no.

What to do? There are low carb diets and low fat diets, and some low everything diets. The Atkins people blame carbs for obesity and many nutritionist blame dietary fat for obesity. So what's going on? Who is right?

The fact is if we overeat on carbohydrates or dietary fat we will gain weight.

This is why I simply use daily calorie goals in the Spike Diet. It works with any type of macro-nutrient split you want to use. The main factor is calories in versus calories out. 

While everything can work if the total calories eaten are less than we burn, I believe the best most efficient way is a good balance of everything.

Personally I aim for 40% of my daily calories from both protein and carbohydrates, and 20% from dietary fat.

People who exercise on a regular basis need more protein than the average person.  Protein is broken down into amino acids which are essential for rebuilding muscle tissue. Another bonus is protein increases metabolism far more than carbohydrates and dietary fat. So the more you eat the more you burn.

Carbohydrates are important for daily energy and are easily converted to glucose(blood sugar/energy) When we have excess carbohydrates they are converted to glycogen for quick energy to be used later on, like exercise. When our glycogen stores are full the remaining is stored as body-fat.

Some dietary fats are essential and they help us feel more "full" which helps keep us from overeating. Unfortunately they are not efficient energy, and excess dietary fat is easily stored as body-fat. Which is why it is the lowest priority among the other macro-nutrients.

By limiting your calories and eating a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you cover all of your bases.  You give your body what it needs while creating a calorie deficit. Allowing your body to burn body-fat to make up the difference and still give it what it needs to recover from activities and workouts.


  1. I agree 100%. In my own journey to losing 100 pounds, I experimented with all different macro nutrient breakdowns and guess what? As long as the calories are in line it worked for weight loss. I eventually settled on 20% protein, 40% fat, 40% carbohydrate because as a vegetarian, many sources of protein also contain a significant amount of fat. Nuts are a staple of my current diet, for example. I think we try to make it over complicated when you're totally right, it's simply the number of calories that is the biggest determining factor.

  2. Thanks,
    For me it's a "freeing" feeling because it makes it so much easier to stick to a diet. Neither carbs nor fat are the enemy, and as long as you have a deficit of calories you will lose weight.