Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I know we like to think that calories consumed have to be less than calories burned in order to lose weight.  An article by Marcelle Pick in the Huffington Post on January 6, 2012, writes that calories are not all created equally and they cannot always simply be burned off with the right amount of exercise.  She says "On the surface, it makes sense that we would lose weight if we simply ate fewer calories than we burned, but our bodies are chemistry labs, not bank accounts.  Food is digested and used uniquely in each of us -- depending on our ages, our genetics, our lifestyles, our food sensitivities, ability to detoxify, and so on.  There are endless factors in how our calories are used and the messages those calories send to our bodies.  This means that a calorie is not just a calorie. Every calorie we eat will be utilized uniquely in each of us."

Many of us know the 3,500 calorie equation.  To lose a pound, you need to eat less or burn by exercising a total of 3500 calories.  Some of use the 500 calorie rule.  If I eat less and exercise more and create the 500 calorie deficiency on a daily basis, I will lose a pound a week.  But our metabolism comes into play and it changes as we lose weight.

An excellent article by Leslie Beck in the Globe and Mail (February 22, 2012) provides details on the role of metabolism and how it dictates how easily you will lose or gain weight.  Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories and is determined by your muscle mass.  Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.  Lifting weights and doing resistance exercises does pay off!   Ms. Beck writes about information on a new formula that can be used to better predict how you will lose weight on a diet.  The on-line tool can be found at  The tool calculates what diet and exercise changes are required to reach goal weight and what changes are required to maintain it over time.  The tool shows how weight loss slows down over time but you will continue to lose weight if you stick to your plan.   As Ms. Beck states “permanent weight loss takes time and requires persistence, consistency and patience”.  There are no quick fixes.  It all requires work and dedication or what I like to think – a healthy obsession.

I have tried the formula and need to spend time on it to do some tweaking on calories consumed and daily activity levels.  It is very interesting as you can adapt the period of time you would like to direct for losing those extra pounds.  What I do need to remind myself is that my body is not a bank account, it is a complex chemistry lab and losing weight involves chemistry.  

Mark Bittman has recently written about  when is a calorie a calorie.  He writes about a new book called 'Why Calories Count'.  Basically not all calories are equal, fiber and other ingredient components matter and there are many things involved in our body dealing with weight regulation.

Lots of food for thought.....

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