Although there are a myriad of misconceptions about becoming overweight and losing weight, the bottom line to losing and gaining weight/body fat comes down to the Law of Thermodynamics.
Simply stated, if you take in more calories than you burn (via exercise and metabolism), you will store the excess calories for later use and gain weight/body fat. In other words, if you continuously fill up your gas tank without depleting the gas through driving, eventually the gas tank will overflow, forcing the gas to spill out of the tank. This is the same as storing excess calories in your body. However, if you take in fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight/body fat. If you consume the same amount of calories as you burn, your weight will remain the same. This can easily be expressed through the following:
- Consume more calories than you burn = weight gain
- Burn more calories than you consume = weight loss
- Consume the same calories as you burn = weight maintenance
Understanding this law gives you a concrete answer to the question "how do I lose weight?" Simply eat less and/or move more. Given this, if weight loss is your goal, then your body must be in a calorie deficit. Regardless of whether you eat a high-protein, low carbohydrate or balanced diet, in order to lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit so your body will transfer energy from the storage units you carry around as fat. By including healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and limiting saturated fat within the proper calorie allotment, you help optimize your health and minimize the risk of chronic disease. As a result, you'll have a greater potential to live a longer and more productive life.
More Answers from Dr. Mike Clark, DPT