I have always said I believe the ‘calories in, calories out’ philosophy of weight loss is too simplistic and that the key is where you get the calories from, not how many you eat.
I remember when I was training, there was a trial where it was shown that a person could maintain their weight quite easily even when they were consuming 5000 calories a day. The key was in the fact they were eating no processed foods, but feasted on ‘proper’ food as I would call it. Can’t remember the details of the study now, but the principle stayed with me.
I am always at pains to explain to most of my weight loss patients over the years that they have to eat enough (probably more than they were doing) and of the right foods. Most were stuck in the calorie and fat loss traps and, believe me, most found it really hard to break out of that mindset, some never achieving it, which just goes to show how hard-wired we are to think in those terms. The multi-million weight loss industry must be rubbing its hands with glee.
Anyway, researchers in the US recently studied the difference in BMI between first generation Mexican immigrants and their children. The latter were 2.5 times more likely to be obese mainly, it is thought, because they have swapped the traditional Mexican diet of corn, meat, fruit, veg and beans for one of much more processed convenience foods. From ‘proper’ food to processed rubbish. Not rocket science, is it?
You can see the study here: Mexican Adolescents Study
I probably eat far more calories now than I ever have as I follow a pretty high protein diet and consume something about every couple of hours or so to maintain blood sugar, yet my weight is about the same as in my early twenties. The trick for me was definitely cutting out allergens and eating ‘proper’ food.
The general rule of thumb for weight loss, in my view anyway, is to eat good quality food. One of my favourite pieces of advice for weight loss patients is that if you eat a food like modern farmed chicken which is mainly fat rather than muscle now, what do you think will happen to your fat and muscle ratio? It will grow to match the chicken!
Whereas, if you eat muscle-rich foods like grass fed beef, for example, or even a free range organic chicken that has been allowed to run about and build muscle, you will gradually build more muscle than fat.
Look at the composition of the food you are about to put in your mouth. Does it match the body composition you desire? If not, don’t eat it. If you need to lose body fat, that principle is a great place to start rather than counting calories and starving yourself.