Friday, January 16, 2009

Do Calories Really Count?

I responded to a question on OH yesterday. I thought I'd share my response here and give a little more information about my personal experience with calories.

Before my gastric bypass surgery I spent a solid two years on a very strict diet trying to lose weight. I exercised my butt off and at about 1200-1400 calories per day. I tracked my calories on FitDay just like I do now ... and their online calculators told me that based on my food intake and my activity level that I should be losing about 5 pounds per week. But it didn't work out that way.

Every ounce of energy I was putting in was simply to maintain my current weight at the time. I wasn't gaining and I wasn't losing. My weight stayed steady. Why? Because of the PCOS, insulin resistance and my history of morbid obesity ... my body didn't react like those online calculators said that it should to my calorie deficit.

So when Dave on OH asked yesterday if the whole notion about calories was really true... this is what I had to say:

The whole calorie thing isn't wrong. The calories in vs. caloies out thing works just fine. BUT ... our body is broken. We've spent a lifetime whaling away at our metobolic system and we've damaged it so much that it doesn't work like it should anymore. (This is my personal opinion sorta based on some of the research I've dug up.)

The yo-yo dieting. The bad food choices. The excess calories. The insulin imbalance. The hormonal imbalance. The binge eating. The starvation dieting. And now we throw major, gut-rearranging surgery at our bodies and expect it suddenly to do what we want it to do.

Nik said it beautifully this morning. Our body is really good at one thing. Self Preservation. Our body is programmed to survive and to do anything it can possibly do to keep us alive. 700 calories a day will signal to your body that its dying and it needs to conserve energy, hold on to every ounce of fat (energy) storage and protect us from whatever horrible element is attacking us. You just went from eating 10,000 calories a day to 700 calories a day... the body reads that as famine.

So you have to prove to your body that everything is alright. Feed it the protein it needs to fuel your muscles, organs and blood system. Feed it the vitamins it needs to function. Feed it water to stay hydrated and flush the used fat storage toxins. Exercise to prove you are healthy and want to keep the muscle mass you have. Gradually you'll increase your calories as your body needs more fuel to keep you out of starvation mode. Once you get into starvation mode, things slow down or stop because starvation mode = survival mode = self preservation mode.

That whole 3500 calories burned equals 1 pound of lost fat. Yes, it's true. But it doesn't take into account the abuse we've dished out to our body all these years as we've lived with morbid obesity.


1 comment:

  1. How did you arrive at 1400 calories a day for your requirement? That metabolic test... How does that work?


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