So the age old question in fitness seems to be how much do calories actually matter? This seems to be a hot button topic around town. The short answer is yes, they do matter, BUT it is much more complicated than that. Let's take a look a little deeper but still keep it understandable. KISS (keep it simple silly) method always works. So simple biology tells us that if you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. Simple, right? The opposite is true, consume more calories than you can burn, you gain weight. The issue then becomes where are the calories coming from? Calories are a result of what types of foods you are eating. These foods are referred to as macro nutrients. Macro nutrients are Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat. Each unit of these macro nutrients measured in grams have a calorie count associated to them. For every gram of Protein and Carbohydrate equals 4 calories. For every Fat gram, 9 calories. Calories are then added together to get a total count based off of your macro nutrient profile. Macro nutrients are going to be different for everyone based off of many factors but goals being one of them. If your goal is to gain some muscle and not necessarily worry about weight gain, then we need to be in a surplus of calories. Go back to the beginning of this post and see that this just means we will be consuming more than we burn. Protein levels need to be increased as well as carbohydrates and fat needs to be kept moderate. There is no cookie cutter plan for everyone, each person is an individual and their plans will differ but to achieve certain goals, a solid plan needs to be in place.
Now take someone who wants to simply lose weight but is very unhappy with what they see in the mirror. At this point we just reduce calories to burn more than is consumed. What happens when we do this? Sure, you WILL lose weight but your body composition will not change and you'll end up looking in the mirror and seeing a smaller version of what you already don't like! Who wants that? This is where a qualified coach comes in. A plan needs to be established to meet the goals of the person. This may even involve a completely new approach to nutrition. Calories will need to determined and then broken down into macros to match goals. Let's also not forget that a well developed training plan needs to be on place as well. This may take longer than some may think but in the end, the goals will be achieved and when you look in the mirror you WILL like what you see!
Calories, do they matter? Yep, they do but how we determine what calories should be consumed and when is a discussion for another day.