People have a huge misconception when it comes to weight loss. Many people believe that is it all about the calorie count. Weight loss is more complicated than that. Sure we all wish it could be as simple as calories in vs. calories out, but it is not.
What is calories in vs. calories out?
The calories in vs. calories out refers to eating fewer calories than you are burning through exercise. Everyone needs calories to fuel our bodies. Calories can come from protein, fat and carbohydrates. Our body takes calories from the food that we consume to convert it into energy so that we can function properly. When we have a slower metabolic rate, our body cannot convert the calories as fast as it should. Thus, some of the calories are stored as fate and not as energy.
Therefore, it is best to burn off more calories than you eat in an effort to make sure that no calories are being converted into fat, and that the fat cells that already exist can be burned off using this formula. More calories burned off than consumed by you.
Unfortunately, this formula does not work for everyone. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition uses the calories in vs. calories out formula to understand why it works for some people and not for others.
The women are given a 1,200 calorie diet a day while the men can eat 1,500 calories. The people are placed in three categories based on their six week weight loss performance. The Cluster A group are the most successful. They lost 7.6% of their body fat before reaching the stabilization phase after week six. By the end of the twelve weeks, the weight loss percentage was around 10%.
Cluster B saw some success with the calories in vs. calories out diet. They saw immediate weight loss results that averaged around 5% weight loss, but during the second half of the study, they had reached a platform and did not lose any more weight.
Cluster C is the group that has the most trouble. They lost roughly 4.4% during the first half of the study only to gain 2/3 of the weight back during the second half. This group is an example of why the calorie in vs. calories out is not a universal rule. It may work for some, but it does not work for all.
Why does the rule not work for everyone?
Researchers tried to answer this question by looking at the data for all three groups. They took many different biochemical and physical measures for each participant to see if there is a common link or trait found within the individual groups. Some of these measures include blood sugar, cholesterol level, insulin levels, inflammation in the body and appetite hormones.
Researchers found that Cluster C had the highest level of insulin resistance, more inflammation than the other two groups and more bacteria found in the intestine. These three things were the only difference between Cluster C and the other two groups. So is this why the formula does not work for them? All signs point to yes. Researchers used this new found information to start another study. In this study, they used the measures to predict who would fall into which category. They found that people with high insulin resistance has a 94% chance of regaining their weight.
How can you lose weight?
For people with insulin resistance, a low carb diet works best. A to Z weight loss study found that this diet helps you shed the pounds more than a low calorie diet. Low fat diets do not work for insulin resistance people either. In fact, it can cause you to gain weight. So if you want to lose weight using the calories in vs. calories out method. You first have to figure out what your insulin resistance is and go from there.
You can find out if you have an insulin resistance by seeing if you have metabolic syndrome. This is a good indicator that you are suffering from insulin resistance and have to change your diet and exercise regimen.
So if someone tells you to just cut back on the calories and you will be fine, take that advice with a grain of salt until you find out about your insulin resistance status. Because, why count calories when it doesn’t work?
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Hensrud DD, et al. The Mayo Clinic Diet. Intercourse, Penn.: Good Books; 2010.
Duyff RL. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 4th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2012:38.
Hall KD, et al. Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight. Lancet. 2011;378:826.
About the Author
Churchill Otieno holds a degree in Communications and Public Relations. He is an accomplished independent researcher, experienced, professional writer based in Chicago, IL past Mombasa, Kenya. He is an author and publisher for Consumer Health Digest since 2013. He has additional credentials in health and wellness. He has been writing articles on health for more than two years with interest on bone, joint health, arthritis, weight loss, fitness, workouts, etc. He is also a contributor to many other popular websites. His mission is to educate, empower and advocate people whose lives have changed due to certain illness. He also strives to support the families and caregivers as they learn how to advocate and care for the afflicted person.
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