Wednesday, July 20th, 2011...12:23 PM

Calories in, Calories out…True, to a Point

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by Chris Heidel

It’s not erroneous to say, “In the end, it’s fewer calories in, more calories out for weight loss,” but it’s important to understand the science behind calories and how they work and how to make little tweaks in your regimen so that you can see the weight loss results you are looking for. I just read a great article on this topic on (via Men’s Health). I also read a good article on SparkPeople specifically regarding alcohol calories. I HIGHLY encourage you to read both articles, but I will summarize the main points below:

1. 100 calories of veggies does not = 100 calories of cookies. LF Note: Don’t believe me? Ask Weight Watchers. They recently revamped their points allocation with PointsPlus.

2. Digestion burns calories. Your body requires 20 to 30 calories to burn 100 calories of protein, only 5 to 10 for carbs.

3. More fiber = fewer calories absorbed. Fiber fills you up AND helps block calorie absorption in the digestive tract. Bonus!

4. You don’t really burn that many calories exercising. WHAT? 60-70% of calories are used just to keep you alive. On top of that, just making an effort to move more may burn more calories than working out for 30 minutes.

5. Cut out sugar, but don’t just switch to food with sugar substitutes. The promise to your body of sugar calories without actually consuming them can lead to overeating. Your body gets ready for it, and then you never deliver. Now, you are REALLY hungry. Regular consumption of low-calorie sweeteners can increase your risk of obesity by 40%.

6. Alcohol is your weight loss enemy. The body sees it as a toxin and processes it first, opting to store available food calories as fat. Also, alcohol has 7 calories per gram with little nutritional value. Alcoholic drinks can have lots of sugar, lower your resolve to eat healthy, etc.

So now what? Well, to your current regimen, add the following:

1. More whole foods, less processed food.

2. Increase protein intake. Reduce processed carb intake (e.g., bagels, white pasta, etc.). This does not mean going on the Atkins Diet!

3. Eat more fiber. If you don’t already, eat a BAS (big ass salad) every day (careful not to use too much dressing). Try The Full Plate Diet.

4. Take the stairs, park at the back of the parking lot, get up to ask a co-worker a question instead of sending an email, etc.

5. Reduce consumption of fake sugar.

6. Educate yourself about your best alcohol choices, and limit yourself to 2 to 4 drinks per week, no more than 2 in one day.

Let me know how you do! Other ideas?

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner of and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness, a private, in-home studio in Austin, TX. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

Creative Commons photo by: meddygarnet



  • I’m pretty good at doing all those things but it’s the empty calories in a margarita that gets me every time.

  • You are absolutely right. I found another article and added a #6. Check it out. The article is really good.

  • Great information. Love your balanced ideas and advise as always! (Hee hee…and I love your term, BAS!)

  • Thanks, hon! I started using the term BAS to get through to my clients that I was NOT talking about a side salad. One salad each day needs to be a MEAL!

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