People Who Successfully Lose Fat Counting Calories Do This Naturally
Some people count calories, achieve a calorie deficit, and manage to lose fat successfully – even easily!
Others attempt the same, yet they really struggle with it. They’re hungry all the time and it’s a massive struggle to see significant fat loss. They deprive themselves of things they want to eat and are miserable. After a while they end up “snapping” and going on a binge that undoes the small amount of progress they may have made.
Why such a significant difference in experience and results?
What do people in the first group do differently to the second group?
You Don’t Process All Calories the Same
Not all calories are equal. The body doesn’t process all calories in the same way.
What even is a calorie? It’s just a measurement of energy. Specifically, it’s the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1 degree celsius. When we say “calorie”, we actually usually mean kilocalorie, or kcal for short. This is 1,000 calories, or the amount of energy it takes to raise 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree celsius.
Scientists figure out how much energy is in different foods, by putting them in something called a “bomb calorimeter” and basically blowing them up, and measuring the amount of energy given off.
You are not a bomb calorimeter treating all foods the same. You are a human being, and you treat different foods differently.
YES it is true that you need to take in less energy than you expend if you want to lose weight (eat less, move more, etc.) but the way you achieve that will play a significant role in your success.
Successful Calorie Counters Also Eat Better Foods
You know those people who claim tracking calories and just “eating less and moving more” works for fat loss (well I’m one of those people)… What do they actually do differently that makes it work for them, when it never worked for you and many other people like you?
There are many factors, but one that I think isn’t spoken about enough is existing good and bad diet habits.
You will respond in different ways to different foods. Some foods are very filling for the amounts of calories they contain, some get a “discount” on the caloric value as they’re more difficult to digest, and some get another “discount” because bits of them just pass straight through you, unabsorbed (due to fibre).
Other foods drive your hunger higher (you’re hungry again, soon after eating them), make you want to keep eating more and more, and get pretty much all absorbed!
What’s this about discounts on calories?
When I say some foods get a discount, I’m talking about the “thermic effect of feeding”, or TEF. It requires energy to digest food. The act of digesting food burns calories. Therefore, you never actually absorb ALL of the calories you consume. Some foods are a lot more energy intensive to digest than others.
These numbers are a guide only (it’s pretty hard to measure this), but different studies suggest the thermic effect is something like:
- 20-30% on protein
- 10-15% on carbs
- 0-10% on fat
Unprocessed Foods are Best for Fat Loss
There’s also evidence to suggest that the act of processing foods reduces the thermic effect of feeding. In this study the difference was 20% for the whole foods! If you don’t understand, that means you’ll absorb 20% fewer calories from a whole foods diet than a processed foods diet!
What people who are good at calorie counting & fat loss get right
- They prioritise protein meaning they’re kept fuller for longer, and get big “calorie discounts” on the foods they eat.
- Avoiding highly processed foods that have a lower thermic effect.
- They avoid highly refined carbohydrates and sugar that are easy to overeat and make them hungry again sooner.
- They eat a mostly whole foods diet.
Here’s your ridiculously simple nutrition plan to lose fat.
- Eat 2 meals per day (skipping breakfast if doing intermittent fasting) or 3 meals per day if not.
- Hit your calorie target.
- Make every meal one that’s made from whole foods with no processed ingredients.
- Don’t snack, just eat nutritious, unprocessed meals and make sure you hit your protein target and calories. See here if you don’t know what those numbers should be.
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