This post is about Why you need more calories.
First why does it seem that most people want to cut calories,?
Why you need more calories
It seems these days everybody is trying to cut calories because it’s the thing to do. I don’t think I have ever met a “regular” person who is trying to eat more calories.
On the flip side, as a dedicated fitness nut who hangs out with other fitness nuts, I don’t think I ever met another true fitness nut who tries to cut calories. So the question is why do people who try and cut calories get fat and the people who don’t seem to care about calories get in better and better shape AND never diet? I’m glad you asked.
What is a Calorie?
To answer this question, we will ask Sir Buzz Killington:
Guys at a party: Chuck, this f*&#in’ party rules….Woooohoooo
More guys at a party: You are the man Charles! Dude this is seriously THE party of the year! Nothing can kill this buzz.
*In walks Buzz Killington*
Buzz Killington: Good evening chaps
Buzz Killington: Stanley, do you know how many calories are in that pint of Guinness?
Stanley: Uh, no
Buzz Killington: 210 kilocalories, or 210,000 calories plus another 5 because it was made at St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin…and the owner is a Scott. Hahaha! …now that I have captured your attention, let me tell you about Belhaven Wee, a real genuine English Ale…
Rest of the party:……aaaaaahhhhhhhh <air leaves the room>
Or, we can look in the dictionary: (another thing that Buzz Killington might do)
1 a: the amount of heat required at a pressure of one atmosphere to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius that is equal to about 4.19 joules -abbreviation cal -called also gram calorie small calorie b: the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius: 1000 gram calories or 3.968 Btu -abbreviation Cal -called also large calorie
So a calorie is actually a measure of energy; or the amount of energy it takes to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius. When I lived in Japan, what we call a calorie is what the Japanese call a kilocalorie (kcals) or 1000 Calories. We (Americans) use the term calorie because it sounds better than kilocalorie. One of my favorite desserts is a McDonalds caramel sundae containing 340 “calories,” which in actuality is 340,000 kilocalories – so now you understand why we call them calories versus what they really are. Only in America!! Tell some 15/30/45/60 year old high school girl that the caramel sundae she just ate contains 340,000 calories and she would probably shoot herself (or throw up in the bathroom).
Why you need more calories
Why more and not less?
To answer that, first take a look at my CITY Interval Workout. In this workout, I mentioned how when you start working out and when your body has achieved an optimal temperature, it will go into what is called a steady-state, and to trick your body into burning fat, you have to “shock” it so it will go into shock mode and burn fat. Well, the same holds true when trying to amp up your metabolism and burn more calories….right now as your reading this, unless you are wrangling alligators, you are in a steady-caloric-state (s-c-s), meaning you are burning calories at a consistent rate of what your body is used to, to keep you alive. Frankly, your body has ZERO desire to either lose or gain weight – it has already worked hard enough to get where it is now, and any change in weight, whether it is weight loss or weight gain, will be resisted by it. Hence, the reason I mentioned in my 10 Best Ways to Lose Fat article, point #5, why no diets work…all diets are temporary.
Like most people, when you start consuming fewer calories, the results are immediately drastic – you dump a ton of weight, sometimes quickly. So this makes you think “Great, I’m on a roll…I’ll continue to eat fewer calories and the pounds will keep dropping.” Unless you’re morbidly obese, that is usually a bad sign, not the good sign you think it is! Why? Well, let’s first look at your previous weight:
*As a general rule of thumb, you need about 10X your body weight (in lbs) in calories to maintain its current weight, to lose weight you need to subtract about 500 calories.* For example if you weigh 230 lbs you need to eat 2300 calories – 500 calories = 1800 calories.*
When you dump a ton of weight quickly, your body is still at a Steady-Caloric-State of its previous weight(XXXlbs/kg). You are used to a certain amount of calories to maintain that weight. When you first start a diet, you drop weight quickly because you have entered Shock Mode (from my CITY Interval Workout) which is perfectly fine…for awhile. But if you keep your body in shock mode for too long (cutting calories), you will enter what is called Starvation Mode (SM). (baaaad!!)
Starvation Mode is your body’s natural defense mechanism to keep you alive. Back before you were born, your ancestors went for long periods of time without food or with very little food. In order for them to stay alive, their bodies adjusted in order to store energy (fat) for later use (cold winter months/poor irrigation/vegetarian diet, etc.). Whether you like it or not, you have that gene – everybody on earth does to some degree.
When you cut calories from your diet, as a defense mechanism your genes come into action and do their thing…and their thing is to put your body into starvation mode. Starvation Mode slows down everything (your energy levels decrease, your mental focus decreases, you will gain fat (energy) easier, burn muscle mass, etc.) until it can find some food to bring it back to its previous SCS and weight. It will usually come back as more fat because you just loss muscle mass (double whammy because muscle burns fat) from starvation mode. Your body is used to operating with a certain amount of calories, and when you start increasing your calorie intake again after being in SM, those extra calories will store themselves as fat (triple whammy)!
Using Steady-Caloric-State to your advantage:
Once you start exercising, you will eventually hit a peak where all your weight loss and muscle mass gains will come to a halt like Wile E. Coyote falling off the side of a mountain in a Road Runner cartoon. Why? Because you have been programmed by society to consume less calories – not more. You eventually become used to the level of calories and exercise (remember I told you your body does not want to gain or lose weight) and go back into your steady state. If you want to lose weight, you have to trick your body into thinking it has more than enough food so it will fire up your metabolism and burn more calories. To do that, you have to actually eat more calories to lose weight. You need to eat about your body weight (in lbs) + 50 more calories for this to happen. You must also ramp up your exercise level a notch.
*Just eating more calories without exercising is going to make you gain weight, not lose it*
Most importantly, you don’t continue eating this increased amount of calories. You only eat them for about 3 days – just long enough to trick your body into increasing its metabolism. Then, decrease your caloric intake back to S-C-S. You can do this every time your body reaches a plateau. Believe me, it works!!
Now you know Why you need more calories.