You have probably heard a friend or family member mention that they are “watching their” calories. But why are they doing that? Usually it is something people who are looking to lose weight do. Or is it? Is it possible to use calories to reach your goals, whether they are weight loss, weight gain, performance, or maintenance?
First, we need to answer the question, what are calories? In short, they are units of energy. Every function your body preforms, requires energy in the form of calories. That means you burn calories while you eat, digest, sleep, breathe, etc. Everything we do requires calories.
Where do calories come from? Calories come from the food we put in our bodies. Food is a fuel source for the body and each food comes with its own amount of energy (calories). Thus, our energy is dependent on the type and quality of food we put into our bodies.
Not enough calories will result in the body not functioning 100%. Brain function and metabolism will take a major hit. Too many calories, and our bodies will need to store the excess calories, mostly as body fat. This can equally throw off brain function and metabolism function.
The human body is like a high-performance car. It needs fuel to run. Not enough fuel, and the car will only run for so long before it breaks down. Too. Much fuel, and it will overflow out of the gas tank. If you put low grade fuel into the car, the car will not function how it is supposed to function and will break down sooner. Put high quality fuel in the car and it will drive how it is supposed to. Calories to humans is like fuel to cars.
Now that we have a better understanding of calories, how do we use them to our advantage? No matter what your goal is, nutrition is a big part of it. If you want to lose weight, you need to be aware of what you are eating. If you are looking to gain weight, you need to be aware of what you eat. If you are looking to increase your performance, you need to be aware of what you are eating. Just looking to maintain? You guessed it. You need to be aware of what you are eating. No matter your goal, you need to be aware of what you are eating. The first step in this is understanding how much energy you are consuming. If you want to use calories to your advantage, you need to set a base line of how many you are currently consuming. Once you do that, you will be able to adjust the amount you are taking in so that it can support your goals.
If you are looking to lose weight, you’ll probably want to decrease the amount of calories you are taking in. If you are looking to gain weight, you may need to increase the amount of calories you are taking in. If you are looking to improve performance, you may need to adjust certain aspects of your calories (macronutrients), or the timing of your calories. If you are looking to maintain, you’ll want to understand your energy balance a little more. We will dive into energy balance later this week.
No matter your goals, you can leverage your calories to support them. It all starts with understanding how many you are currently taking in, and then adjusting based on your goals. Once you. Do that, you will notice a big improvement in your progress towards your goals.
If you have questions about how many calories are the right amount for you or how to track your calories, schedule a call with one of our coaches! You can do that here: