If You Eat Too Much, You Get Fat

What is a calorie? This has been my favorite question for a long time. Talking to groups of fitness trainers was probably my favorite time to ask this. So, what is a calorie? The answers would be anywhere from; ‘It’s a gram”, “It’s a measurement of food”, etc. Although the answers aren’t shockingly wrong, they’re still wrong. I am comfortable saying I wasn’t the picture perfect student, nor was I the best listener through elementary school, but it does surprise me how many people made it through not only elementary school, but also their certifications without holding onto this little piece of information.

About 200 years ago we started seeing “calorie” used in literature. Between 1787 and 1824 it started popping up as a unit of measurement typically quantifying heat exchange in water and other materials, but the exact history isn’t quite clear. In the early 1800’s steam engines were gaining popularity. The engineer behind the science and theory of steam engines was Nicholas Clement. Using the caloric model for measuring the work an engine could perform was a totally new theory at the time. Soon after the caloric model was being used to measure work load of all sorts, things like the force to offset gravity. Farming started using the caloric model to determine the most efficient ways to feed the livestock with the nutrition needed. From there the model was being applied to measure changes in heat from different macronutrients in foods. Obviously this wasn’t being used to determine how much food each person could eat to achieve desired physique, it was more about feed costs for livestock and mechanical transfers. Eventually a calorie was basically defined as the amount of work that you could perform from energy content of different foods and this started the daily energy intake and output guidelines. These days it seems our restaurants don’t dare put calories next to the meals, because we no longer look at food for its caloric value, but rather by what we desire a taste for at the time.
There is a lot of chatter about different diets, some fads and trends and some worth trying. Most are pitched as some new magic diet that will give you the results you have been missing out on your current diet. There are definitely some simple rules that apply in general to all humans, that can be applied to diet. However, no diet is void of one common thing; calories.
Calories in and calories out: is it that simple? There is one blanket statement we can make here, about any dietary choice. That is that an overage in energy from any source, is not used. Regardless of your diet preference, if you eat too much, you will gain weight. If you decide to change to a gluten free diet, that doesn’t mean that you can eat as many calories of gluten free foods and achieve health and optimal weight. If you eat a “clean” diet, that doesn’t mean you can have as many calories as you feel like eating. Even on a more native diet like a low carb or ketogenic diet, this doesn’t license you to eat fats all day every day and you won’t be effected in a negative way. The same thing will happen; you’ll get fat. Too much of any energy source creates a surplus, and what isn’t excreted or used is stored.
Growing up I had a very overweight health teacher in middle school, she was a vegetarian. Now I’m not faulting the vegetarian diet, but her life was very sedentary. So eating a diet that is mainly comprised of carbohydrates and fats is probably not ideal when you aren’t using much energy. Over Thanksgiving break I saw a guy I grew up with. He eats terrible food by most standards, drinks too much and doesn’t care about his diet. His lifestyle involves climbing and cutting down trees, then hauling them out of the forest. This is not a sedentary lifestyle, it’s much more forgiving with calories being ingested, because those calories are allowing him to complete his hard physical work. This doesn’t make his diet of high fat, high carbohydrates and beer superior to hers necessarily, but his lifestyle allows it because he needs that energy. The point taken here should be that your calories or your energy eaten should match your lifestyle.
There is no diet in the world that allows an uncontrolled caloric intake without some negative repercussions. If you eat too much, you will get fat. Most people avoid this subject, because no one is allowed to hurt anyone else’s feelings anymore. This isn’t to poke fun or be mean, but at the end of the day we need to take control of our own lives. If years of bad decisions or emotional decisions have lead you to being overweight, it’s time to make a change. Take responsibility for what you do, no one is forcing you to eat this overage of “energy”. These are your choices. Doctors may want to tell you that it’s your thyroid’s fault, or it’s your genetics fault, rather than be honest with you and tell  you to stop eating so much, they’ll give you a pill of some sort, that in the long run creates even more health issues. The solutions are in your control, if you eat too much, you’ll get fat.
Imagine if you took your health back into your own hands today. Take responsibility for your life, drop the excuses and make the decision to take action. If you’d like to make some better choices, or just learn more about what diet might fit your lifestyle the best, visit us at builtmag.com and educate yourself. You can even pick a diet lifestyle that sounds good to you, and get started.