Calories in Vs Calories Out

The long awaited debate may have finally come to fruition.  Must calories IN equal calories OUT in order to maintain weight?

Well….come to find out it’s not quite that easy to distinguish.  A few recent studies have been published that have some interesting data.  One can draw their own conclusions as to how far they want to analyze or overanalyze the study.

First the study started out with two groups whose calories were regulated and metered to assure that both sets of groups consumed equal amounts of calories.  One being a more carb based diet and the other a more traditional “high” protein based diet.

One thing I must point out right off is that the “protein” group consumed a closer to a 40/30/30 diet rather than what many of us Paleo people would follow.  What this means is that 40% of their calories came from carbs, 30% came from fat and the remaining 30% from protein.

The perfect diet or paleo based plan is comprised of 20% carbs, 60% fat and 20% protein.  Seems odd doesn’t it?  But if you’re getting healthy fats from sources such as

  1. Grass fed animals
  2. Grass fed butter
  3. Avocados
  4. Eggs
  5. Olive Oil
  6. Fish

you’ll never have to worry about counting calories.  That’s because of the satiety hormone called leptin.  I’ll explain it and how it plays into the study a little bit later.


But as many have said before, your body composition is 80% diet and the rest is a mixture of activity level and genetics.


If you’re getting 60-65% of your daily calories from fats and paying attention to your protein intake you’ll have no trouble gaining muscle mass and losing unhealthy body fat.


What you must do is make sure your carb source is from high quality vegetable sources and not from the starchy, genetically modified varieties.  Also, you want to make sure you are getting your macronutrients and antioxidants from vegetables sources and limiting the calorie dense intake of fruits.


Fruits are very good for you but we need to limit our consumption of them to under a cup a day.  Half a cup is actually better to insure you don’t over consume calories from the sugary source.


Now back to the study results.  Both groups that had they calorie intake regulated both saw a reduction in weight after 90 days.  The group that consumed the high carb diet actually lost muscle mass than did the higher protein group.


So in a way I guess you could say that calories in sort of equal calories out.  But there’s so much more to the story than this.


Another study was done where one group was observed how many calories they consumed when participants ate a diet high in carbs and another group for higher protein intake.


What was not exactly shocking was the high protein group actually consumed LESS calories overall when their meals were unregulated.


What research has revealed to us over and over is that a diet laden with starchy carbohydrates leaves us seeking more and more food.  It’s almost though we cannot get ourselves satisfied and that is exactly what’s happening inside of our brains and out stomachs.


When the “low fat” craze hit the United States back in the 19080’s everyone was scrambling to reduce their fat intake.  Because after all….if it’s called fat then it must make us fat right?


Well that couldn’t be further from the truth.  It turns out that carbohydrate and sugar intake cause a whole slew of reactions within our bodies that trigger us to not only store fat but also to produce more fat cells.


In addition, consuming healthy levels of fat actually triggers a response inside of our bodies called leptin response.  What happens is the fat in our meals triggers leptin production.  This signal is sent to the brain and tells the brain “hey, I’m full and I think it’s time to stop eating”.


Therefore we feel much fuller on diet high in protein and healthy fat.  In the long run we end up consuming far fewer calories than those who avoid fats and replace them with starchy “low fat” carbohydrates.


So the double edged sword here is not only are you encouraged to eat more calories on a high carb diet (because your body is telling you to keep eating I’m still hungry) but you are also causing your body to produce more fat cells.


Not mention the whole slew of other biochemical processes that go on inside of the body when we consume carbs, our bodies cannot support muscle on a high carb diet.  What ends up happening is loss of muscle mass.


Did you know that 5 pounds of muscle is much smaller in size than 5 pounds of fat?  Did you know that it takes more energy to sustain muscle than it does fat?  Essentially, you’ll burn more calories per pound of fat just by breathing than per pound of fat.


So don’t always just look at what the scales are telling you.  Losing muscle weight is almost never a good thing and replacing muscle with fat most certainly is detrimental to overall and optimum health.


So beef up, eat well and avoid sugars and processed foods at all costs.


Contact me if you have any questions or comments concerning the material in this blog.  I don’t claim to be a health aficionado or any sort of certified professional in any way.  I’m simply spouting off information that I’ve gained over the years through reading and personal experience.