Last updated on Jan 22nd, 2021 at 11:36 am

Losing weight is simply about calories in VS calories out

Ask a pop-science nutrition fan how to lose weight and you are likely to be told ‘calories in must be fewer than calories out’. The idea here is that you must eat fewer calories than you expend every day in order for your body to burn off excess stored calories.

This is a VERY attractive theory because it’s easy.

Eat less, lose some weight. Eat even less, lose more weight. Starve yourself, lose LOTS of weight. YAY!!! It also makes sense to people who think of the body like a car engine. Put fuel in, engine runs ’til fuel runs out.

Unfortunately we possess something that an engine doesn’t… A BRAIN which is programmed to predict coming events and react to them.

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Think about it

Our brains seem to be able to control what our bodies do with however many calories we feed them, based on our life circumstances.

  • Think about how many malnourished people you’ve seen who are overweight, or at least not super skinny (they’re eating fewer calories, but not getting enough vitamins).
  • Now think about how pregnant women who don’t change their diet still gain 14kg during their pregnancy, then lose it again afterwards (the baby doesn’t weigh 14kgs when it’s born).
  • Or athletes who eat 9 000 calories per day and stay lean (they can’t possibly be burning that many in training).
  • Or people who gain weight when they are stressed at work (they may not be eating more calories, but their body is reacting to a signal that it receives).

Our brain seems to be able to control what our body does with however many calories we feed it, based on our life circumstances.

This is all good news, because many people go on diet after diet, eating less and less in an effort to lose weight, eventually eating almost nothing – and still the number on the scale remains the same … or increases.

The answer is not in eating less. It’s in convincing your brain that it’s OK to drop the weight.

How do you do this? By changing your lifestyle and choices to reflect that truth.

This could be done in a number of ways, based on the individual:

  • Putting together a healthy, balanced nutrition plan that removes the burden of damaging chemicals/artificial/processed ‘foods’, and adds all the necessary vitamins and minerals to your diet, so your body can function optimally and process the calories correctly
  • Finding a way to de-stress (yoga, a new hobby, running, socialising) to help your brain to realise that it doesn’t need to ‘store’ calories during a stressful time
  • Regular exercise. This puts your body under ‘good’ stress, and convinces your brain that you need to be leaner and stronger in order to function optimally in your current day-to-day life

If you’ve struggled to lose weight after cutting down to almost zero calories, then your BRAIN may be the reason that the scale never changes.

Chat to a nutrition coach about how to get your brain into weight-loss mode.

View previous fashionable nutrition myths below:

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.