Lesson: Basics of Macros
Of course all weight loss journeys begins with understanding food and nutrition. But there’s one huge difference here, we are not going to be focused on the calories. The macro nutrients are basically divided into carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Your carbs can be healthy vegetables, rice, grains, a slice of cake, sugar and so on. Fats can be from olive oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee, trans fats, vegetable oils and so on. Protein can be from meat, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, paneer etc. Now all these macros provide us with energy, in the form of calories. Protein and Carbs give you around 4 calories per gram. A gram of fat would give you 9 calories. So its easy to assume that every carbohydrate would give you 4 cals per gram and so the quantity is what is important! Well, do you think 100 cals of this broccoli is the same as 100 cals of this cake? Well in terms of calories YES! But! And this is a huge Butt!, its not just about the calories! 100 cals of broccoli puts on an entire different response with the hormones in our body as compared to that of 100 cals of that seemingly delicious cake.
What is a calorie. It is simply a unit of energy.
On what basis do we measure calories. We assume that everyone has a stable daily metabolic expenditure. Basically, we think that the total calories burned in a day would be independent of how much we consume. Therefore, if we cut down on calories consumed, we should keep loosing weight. Right? Wrong! The moment we cut down calories and start eating small tiny unfulfilling meals, our basal metabolism also drops! Total energy expenditure is the sum of basal metabolic rate, thermogenic effect of food, nonexercise activity thermogenesis, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption and exercise. The total energy expenditure can go up or down by as much as 50 percent depending upon the caloric intake as well as other factors.
EVERY SINGLE SYSTEM in the body is regulated. Growth in height is regulated by growth hormone. Blood sugars are regulated by the hormones insulin others. Sexual maturation is regulated by testosterone, estrogen and so on. Body temperature is regulated. The list is endless. So a slight change here and there can make a huge impact on many other systems. So depending on what we consume, the metabolic response is super different. The slice of cake vs the broccoli vs a boiled egg, all are illicit different responses in the body. Therefore a calorie is not just a CALORIE!
This is why focusing on total calories to lose weight is not ideal! Of course, the total energy consumed should be less than that of the total energy spent. This is what almost every weight loss specialist says. But, the whole system of this energy expenditure is way more complex.
How can the energy we consume used in our bodies! Here are a few ways
Body heat ,
Muscle Building ,
Cognition in the brain,
Increased heart rate,
Digestion (pancreas and bowels),
Excretion (intestines and colon)
Just to name a few !
We start by eating less and lose some weight. As a result, our metabolism slows and hunger increases. We start to regain weight. We double our efforts by eating even less. A bit more weight comes off, but again, total energy expenditure decreases and hunger increases. We start regaining weight. So we redouble our efforts by eating even less. This cycle continues until it is intolerable. We are cold, tired, hungry and obsessing about calories. Worst of all, the weight always comes back on.
The fundamental aspect of dieting is about cutting down calories and eating foods in generally a very strict manner! Sure this leads to weight loss initially, but like I mentioned earlier, your metabolism drops, you get hungrier and most of the time, we end up gaining all that lost weight back. Dieting is simply not sustainable. How long are you going to go on Paleo, or keto, or low fat or whatever! Well, if you can take it lifelong, well then its not a diet, its a lifestyle. Kudos to you. But for the rest of us, that wanna enjoy guilty foods once in a while, have a glass of wine or maybe some nice scotch occasionally, and live life without micromanaging meals all the time, well this dieting system is crappy and unsustainable.
Lets look at a few case studies to understand this better.