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Calories: the lies you’ve been fed…

One of the fundamental concepts of weight management is CICO, or “calories in, calories out”, another way of putting it is energy balance, when you consume more energy than you used you’ll gain weight and vice versa.

We use energy for every biological process in the body, many of which occur automatically, we are aware of energy usage from exercise but in reality this is a small fraction of the energy we need on a daily basis.  RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate, is the amount of energy used on a daily basis at rest, this is composed of essential processes such as respiration, digestion and excretion, we require energy to repair and replace damaged cells, our brain requires huge amounts of energy even while we sleep, even muscles use energy when we’re sitting and standing.  

Its worth stating what a calorie actually is, a unit of heat, that’s why the energy of food is always stated as kilojoules (kj) as well a kilocalories (Kcal). The definition of a calorie is the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water by 1℃.

RMR is relatively constant, but will alter by small amounts if our weight changes.  As we move, our energetic requirements are increased further, particularly when we exercise, although not as much as you may think. RMR is typically estimated by using the Harris Benedict equation and from this, an average women needs 2000 Kcal per day, while an average man needs 2500 kcal per day, I don’t know about you but I’m far from average!

Another problem found with calorie counting is that much of the data derived on the calorific content of food is centuries old, it was actually found when a scientist Antoine Lavoisier, burnt food in a bomb calorimeter (imagine an oven surrounded by a tank of water) and measured the increase in temperature. This poses two problems in the real world, one is that we don’t digest our food like an oven and the second is that we all have digestive systems of different efficiency.

If your digestive system is particularly efficient you need less food to obtain the same energy as someone with a less efficient system, think of that friend who eats what they want and never gains weight, chances are that their digestive system is particularly efficient.

That is great in the modern world but in the time when food was scarce, this could be life threatening!

Understanding your RMR is important when you’re trying to change your weight, because it gives you a starting point for how much food YOU need to eat. Working out the composition of your diet is best done by eating nutrient dense food that provides all your nutritional needs. Book a consultation now with our resident nutritional therapist for expert weight loss advice and guidance and start to feel amazing! Call 01302 719917 or visit our website for more information.

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