Weight loss and becoming healthier are the most popular New Year resolutions… year after year most people get it wrong. I have just seen an advert for a ‘body transformation challenge’ here in Saigon. Unfortunately, it seems to be focused on all the wrong things. It is very important to understand that a healthy diet does not necessarily equal a fat loss diet. 

The emphasis on calories in versus calories out just doesn’t want to die! Calories are apart of the picture but the conventional weight loss idea puts way too much emphasis on the importance of energy (or calories).

When I assess people’s lifestyles and nutrition I often find that they are vitamin and mineral deficient…their body is in a state of crisis, they are loaded with toxins, suffer hormonal imbalances and they have ground their metabolisms down. We should be focusing on consuming a nutrient rich diet, changing habits to foster ‘fat burning’ and forgetting about counting energy (calories) because if your body is healthy and in balance you will naturally release stored energy, feel full and not over consume.

The Math
The calorie theory states that one pound of fat contains 3500kcal of energy. Therefore, to lose a pound of fat you simply need to eat 3,500kcal less than your body needs to lose 1lbs (0.5kg) of fat. Full stop.

First, calories calculation is not exact. These are general values expressed across entire food groups. Second, and more importantly, human basal metabolic rates (calorie expenditures) are all predictions. So called health and nutrition experts calculate metabolic rate by simply punching weight and height into a calculator, some take into account body fat percentage but this is still a far cry from precision. The only way to measure exact BMR is with a gas analysis machine. Two people could be the same height and weight but a totally different composition and extremely different metabolisms.

The Biology
Lets forget about these blaring issues regarding energy values, metabolic and hormonal responses, and look at how the body responds to a reduced calorie intake. Your body doesn’t know that you have read a diet book or spoken to a weight loss “professional”. It thinks you have been stranded in a remote area and have been forced into a life threatening starvation situation and it tries to look after you – to survive.

Your body is in survival mode when you work in a calorie deficit, so it needs to ‘dump’ the part of you that uses the most energy. This is the lean muscle. Your body hangs on to the fat a) because it uses up less energy and b) because it is going to be a valuable fuel reserve if you are ‘stranded’ for a long time.

Next month I will discuss the calorie theory with specific research and show there is no evidence behind the calorie theory… stay tuned.

Phil is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (Starfitnesssaigon.com), online or at your home. Contact him though his website Phil-kelly.com or Facebook.com/BodyExpertSystemsVietnam.