Many people are confused about calories. Often, people assume that in order to lose fat, you have to burn more calories than you eat. This is true to an extent, but it’s not the only factor in losing body fat.
If your body requires 1500 calories a day, the important factor in this is where those calories are coming from. A simple way to look at this is:
A Big Mac® contains
You can have 2 ½ Big Macs® a day and get 1500 calories, but that doesn’t mean you will lose fat or gain muscle. The culprit in this case is the amount of calories eaten in one sitting, the high fat combined with the high carbohydrates and the trans fat.
A four ounce chicken breast contains:
A four ounce sweet potato contains:
A four ounce chicken breast AND four ounce potato meal contains:
The chicken breast and sweet potato meal is useable, healthy, and contains no trans fat. It entails quality carbohydrates that nourish the body. The fat content is low, allowing you to eat more carbohydrates without devastating effects. With smaller portions of calories and macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), the meal is better digested and utilized.
If you are guilty of cutting calories that come from healthy food and increasing cardio to more than is actually needed… STOP NOW ! As long as you are eating healthy and natural meals, excess cardio will do more harm than good.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, many are under the impression that you need a lot of calories to burn body fat. The newest fad is to eat more to speed up the metabolism. Yes, you do need calories in small portions throughout the day to speed up the metabolism, but many go to the extremes. If you eat more than your body can use, you will gain weight, no matter what the form the calorie comes in (processed or natural).
Processing the Lowdown
What many fail to realize is that processed foods hinder fat loss. They contain absolutely zero nutrients and they literally strip the body of them. Nutrients are what allow you to lose fat and build muscle.
Man-made food items, such as frozen meals, prepackaged mashed potatoes, deli meats, etc. contain fillers, sodium, additives, artificial flavorings, preservatives, coloring agents, emulsifiers, sweeteners, stabilizers, nitrites, etc. Your body cannot process or digest these foreign elements.
Most of the processed foods you eat stay in the stomach, as the body is not able to produce enough Hydrochloric Acid (HCI) to breakdown and remove it. It simply just sits in the stomach and builds up toxins.
An easy way to look at it is like this… If you put water in your car’s gas tank it will destroy the working mechanisms. That’s exactly what processed food does to your body in the long run. While you may not notice its devastating effects now, next week, or even next year, I can assure you that you will feels it’s effects ten years down the road.
Mother Natures Recipe
If you want to lose fat, you must get back to the basics. If you can hunt it, gather it, pick it, or grow it, you can eat it safely within reason. Just because it is natural food doesn’t mean that calories don’t count. Excess calories in any form can be stored as fat.
Cardio, Calories, and Burning Fat
Now that we understand the root of the calories, let’s look at how cardio and calories work together in burning excess body fat.
If your diet contains a lot of processed food items, you can bet you need a good bit of cardio to burn the heavy calories and hidden fats.
If your diet consists of natural foods, such as fresh chicken breasts, turkey, lean cuts of steak, potatoes, oatmeal, a wide range of non-starchy vegetables, you won’t need to kill yourself with cardio. Your body is able to use natural foods readily, in turn, increasing the metabolism naturally.
If you stack excess cardio on a clean diet of natural foods prescribed for what your body needs, you will only destroy your own fat loss efforts. Excess cardio is not necessary if you are eating correctly. Cardio on a natural eating plan is a back up method to aid in fat loss, not the working factor.
What Doesn’t Work
“Healthy” processed foods combined with excess cardio
What Does Work
Natural foods and a Progressive Cardio Program
Now, I don’t expect you to make all the changes overnight, but you do need to work on reprogramming your mind. Learn and understand that natural food is what your body is meant to use and that anything man-made can stall and even destroy your fat loss endeavors.
Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988. She embarked on weight training to overcome an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa in its early stages. She overcame the eating disorder, received her personal training certificate, competed in many local bodybuilding contests, and qualified for Nationals. Since then shes went on to write six e-books (weight loss, female bodybuilding, contest preparation, leg training, figure/fitness secrets, and cellulite removal). She writes articles for several fitness websites, as well as her own, www.theelitephysique.com, and also distributes a monthly e-newsletter. She has a very active and lively forum, filled with positive and supportive people with informative content. Karens sole goal is to educate others and help them apply that knowledge.