Ahh…the calorie. One of the most misunderstood concept in health and fitness. If you have ever tried to get fit and healthy, you are well aware of the word calories. People try to count them, cut them, burn them, swap them, point them, and whatever else they can think of to manipulate it. But it occurred to me that most people don’t exactly know what a calorie really is.

What exactly is a calorie?

a unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree at one atmosphere pressure; used by nutritionists to characterize the energy-producing potential in food.

what is a calorie?Huh? My thoughts exactly. People are use to seeing calories as “how fat will this make me” or “how hard do I have to work to get rid of this calorie”. You grab those Oreo cookies and you look at the nutrition label and realize that “oh, only 1 cookie has X amount of calories. I can eat 12 if I go to the gym tomorrow because I will burn X amount of calories.” Stop thinking of calories like this! Think of calories as energy. That is what they actually are. A Calorie is a unit of heat (why we say we “burn” calories!). So if you eat something that is 100 calories, let’s say. You basically are putting 100 units of energy into your body.

Now, your body is smart. It knows how much energy it needs in a day, just to survive. Naturally, our body requires energy to breathe, to digest food and to do basic movement. You are burning calories all the time, whether you exercise or not. You even burn calories while you are sleeping! So your body takes all the energy that you put in to yourself (calories) and puts it in various places where it thinks it is needed. Once the body places all the needed energy in the places it needs, it stores the rest. So when your body needs it, it can use some of the energy that you have stored up, such as stressful situations, emergencies. This storage is usually in the form of fat.

How to get rid of the fat

Love HandlesMost people in America have more energy stores (fat) than they should. And people want to know the best way to get rid of this energy stores. Well, the answer is very simple: Start burning that excess energy off (physical activity) and taking in less amounts of energy (eating healthier). If you start burning off 100 units of energy a day (calories) but still eating 200 calories, you still have a 100 calorie swing that your body needs to put somewhere and probably will place it on your stomach, hips, thighs or butt.

Yes, my way of getting rid of your fat isn’t as glamorous as taking lemonade with maple syrup and cayenne pepper (Seriously – people do that!) or any other hype out there, but it works! It is simple burning the energy storage that you have and not allowing your body to store so much excess energy anymore. It’s as simple is eating healthier and getting in physical activity. No glitz, no glamor, just results.

TAKE AWAY: My hope for you reading this is to stop looking at food as “calories”. Start thinking about putting energy into your body while you are eating. And start removing the excess “energy” you have around your midsections. This is the magic formula to living a healthy life. Be conscious of the amount of energy you intake and what your are outputting. This will get you results.

To your health,

~Z

P.S. So after re-reading this post, I realized that this could possible be misleading by saying straight calories in vs. calories out works for getting healthy. (See the Twinkies diet). All calories (energy) are not create equal. So yes, cutting calories similar to the Twinkies diet works. It’s simply is calories in, calories out. HOWEVER!!! There is a difference between eating a Twinkies and eating an apple. I will write a follow up post in the next few weeks this post about eating nutritionally dense food (NOT TWINKIES!!) and how different foods put different “energy” into your body. For now, focus on food as energy, but don’t eat Twinkies.

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