You might have heard terms like calorie deficit, and calorie surplus & might have heard people saying “you should control your calorie intake!”, etc. But sadly, a lot of people do not even know what ‘Calorie’ means.
So, let’s start with understanding “What is a calorie?”.
A calorie is a unit used to measure the energy that we get from our food. It’s very important to track your calorie intake in order to get some great fat loss and muscle goal results. Calorie intake has a huge impact on the well-being of a person.
But not only quantity but the quality of food has to be taken into account when aiming for a healthier self. Let’s understand the effects of quantity first.
A person carrying extra body fat has a huge amount of calories trapped in their body in the form of ‘body fat’, because when you eat food that is more than what your body needs, the excess energy is of no use to your body and the body sends it to the fat cells which later gets converted into fat stores.
In order to lose fat, a person is always advised to stay in a calorie deficit, i.e, eat fewer calories than what you burn, so that the excess energy trapped in your body gets released and that’s how you lose weight.
This can be done by either decreasing the calorie intake or increasing the physical activity which leads to burning more calories or a set of both can also be done.
But on the other hand, a person aiming for muscle gain needs to have calorie surplus diet, i,e, eating more calories than what they burn, because to get good muscle gain a person would need to do some or the other form of strength training to cause micro-trauma to the muscles in order to get them to grow.
And that can only work well if the person is getting enough energy from food, or else the body breaks down the muscle glycogen stores(another form of calories present in the body) to get the energy it needs for all the added work, and then, instead of gaining muscles, a person starts losing a lot more of it.
Therefore calorie tracking is highly important when aiming for fat loss or muscle gain. Now a person would ask, then why are we asked to eat a certain type of food and avoid the rest, in order to get fitter. Can’t we just eat whatever we want and like in the given calorie range and reach our goals?
The answer is certainly, NO. You can surely use the calorie range to maybe have your cheat meals once in a while and manage your food when you’re stuck in a situation that is not in your control, for example, having a piece of cake at a birthday party and avoiding rice later. But, here is where the “quality of calories” comes into play.
When you give your body bad quality food(for eg. Trans fat, processed carbohydrates) or Junk food in common language, which provides hollow calories to your body, the body cannot convert it to energy and doesn’t use it.
And when the body cannot use the calories given, it will further lead to sending all those calories to fat stores and using the energy present in the muscle stores for its use, causing more fat gain and muscle loss, a scenario completely opposite to what we consider an ideal scenario.
So, the quality of what you eat also matters a lot.
You are highly unlikely to get good results if you have only food like cakes and burgers and samosas to meet your calorie intake. When you plan to get on a diet next time, remember to track calories the quantity and the quality of calories you eat.