Nutrition can be as complex or simple as you want it to be. In a previous post, I talked about the general concept of the energy balance equation and how calories consumed must be balanced with calories expended. Let’s take a look at some of the more specific aspects of nutrition, and how it can apply to your fitness goals.
Remember, there are no shortcuts!
First lets discuss a units of measurement. A calorie is a very, very small amount of potential energy. When a carbon atom bonds with another carbon, they share energy. This carbon bond can then be broken down and energy is released in the form of heat. A calorie is simply the amount of energy released when food (carbon bonds) is broken down. Foods are structurally varied, meaning the carbon bonds are built differently. This is why different foods have different calories counts.
Side note: There are technically two calories in science. Big “C” Calories, typically what we refer to, is the amount of energy needed to raise 1kg of water 1 degree Celsius; versus small “c” calories is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 g of water 1 degree Celsius. 1000 calories = 1 Calorie (or kilocalorie, labeled kcal).
Foods are broken down into three main types of structures. Short simple chains of carbons (Carbohydrates), complex long chains of carbons (fats), or folded polygonal rings of carbons (protein).
Each category has a different amount of potential energy when measured by grams.
- Carbohydrates contain 4 Calories per gram.
- Proteins contain 4 Calories per gram.
- Fats contain 9 Calories per gram.
As these foods are digested, they release energy in the form of heat. The amount of food consumed is directly proportional to the amount of energy released. Meaning if your body needs 2000 Calories per day to function, but you consume 2200 Calories, you will slowly and gradually gain weight. On the other hand, if you only consume 1800 Calories, you will slowly and gradually lose weight.
It really is that straightforward. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
For more information on Calories, carbohydrates, or other nutrients, check back regularly or scroll the the archives. Have a specific question regarding your fitness requirements and caloric needs? Trouble with the last few pounds of fat loss? Contact me! Or signup online at my homepage and track your progress with me!