Tag Archives: calories


Is a Calorie a Calorie? Not According to Research.

For years, nutrition experts have been saying that “a calorie is a calorie” – that as long as you were staying within your allotted calorie goals and exercising enough, you’d lose weight. But new research is showing that this actually might not be as true as once thought. The timing of a meal may be just as important as the amount of calories you’re eating in a day.

The Science

Recent animal studies have shown that the body may process food differently at different times of the day. Food eaten late at night can prompt weight gain more than food eaten earlier in the day due to hormone levels, physical activity, changes in body temperature, and the way food is digested and absorbed.

In a 2013 study, researchers found that overweight people who ate their largest meal after 3 PM lost less weight during a 20-week weight loss program than overweight people who ate their largest meal before 3 PM. The amount of calories they consumed, the amount of time they slept, and the amount of exercise they got was the same.

Another smaller 2015 study measured the amount of calories burned following a meal. Women who ate lunch after 4:30 PM burned fewer calories from “resting and digesting” than women who ate lunch at 1:00 PM. The amount of calories eaten and the amount of physical activity was the same. The women who ate later also had more difficulty burning off carbohydrates and had decreased tolerance to glucose – a risk factor for developing diabetes.

Late Night Snacking

It’s just not the timing of the food that makes a difference, though. People who eat late at night tend to indulge in extra-salty and extra-sweet snacks, like popcorn, chips, and ice cream, which tend to be more caloric.

So what can you do to ensure that you’re staying on track at night?

One seemingly obvious answer is to keep unhealthy, tempting foods out of the house. When you’re sitting on the couch craving potato chips at 9 PM, it’s a lot easier to hold off if they’re still on the grocery store shelf, rather than in your pantry.

Another thing you can do is make sure you’re not overly restricting yourself during the day. If you don’t allow yourself enough food to keep you satisfied during the day, you’re more likely to give in and binge at night. Make sure you’re eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a few satiating snacks in between.

People often think of dinner as the biggest meal of the day, but don’t fall into that mentality. Instead, make breakfast or lunch your biggest meal and go lighter for dinner. There’s a phrase that says “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. What this means is eat your biggest meal early in the morning, then gradually reduce the amount you’re eating as the day goes on.

Now we want to hear from you! Do you eat late at night? Or do you eat your biggest meal early in the morning? What tips and tricks do you have for staying on track late at night?

calorie deficit

Creating a Calorie Deficit – The Foundation of Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, there are many different diets, cleanses, exercise programs, etc. that you could try (and probably yield a positive from), but in the end, it all comes down to one thing: calories. It doesn’t matter what type of diet you’re following – even if it’s the healthiest diet in the world – if you’re eating too many calories for your body, you won’t lose weight. To lose weight successfully, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit, which happens when you burn more calories than you take in.

What is a Calorie?

Since we’re on the subject, it would make sense to define what a calorie actually is. You’ve heard the name thousands (if not millions) of times, but what is it? A calorie is the amount of energy (heat) required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius. This might not mean much to you, but it’s how your body runs, and luckily, your body helps you out by using (or burning) calories whenever it needs to change the temperature of the water in your body to help perform a specific task. But enough about that, let’s get back to what this has to do with weight loss.

Energy Balance

Energy balance is a state when the amount of calories (or energy) you’re taking in is in perfect harmony with the amount of calories (or energy) you’re expending, or burning off. In a state of neutral energy balance, your weight remains the same. A positive energy balance occurs when you eat more calories than you burn. If your body is in a positive energy balance for too long, you’ll gain weight. A negative energy balance occurs when you regularly burn off more calories than you take in. A negative energy balance is the goal when you’re trying to lose weight.

A Calorie Deficit

A negative energy balance is also referred to as a calorie deficit. To lose weight, you’ll need to sustain a calorie deficit for weeks, months, or years – depending on how much weight you want to lose. Of course, there’s a science to this too. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. This means to lose one pound per week, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 each week. To lose two pounds per week, you’ll have to bump up this deficit to 7,000 calories weekly.

How Do You Create a Calorie Deficit?

Well, we’re glad you asked. You can create a calorie deficit – or put yourself in a negative calorie balance – by cutting out calories from your diet, increasing your exercise, or a combination of both (which is ideal due to the added benefits of exercise, like lowered cholesterol, decreased heart disease risk, and increased oxygenation to the body).

Figuring Out Your Calories

The amount of calories you need each day just to sustain your normal body functioning varies based on your age, sex, height, and activity level. There are a couple different equations nutrition experts use to figure out how many calories someone should take in to sustain, lose, or gain weight, but we’re going to skip over the math and make it easier for you by directing you to this calorie calculator. Just plug in your stats and get your numbers. It will tell you how many calories you need to maintain and lose weight.

Once you know exactly how many calories you need to lose weight, you’re ready to put a plan into action — and that’s where we come in! We can help you develop a program to change your “before” into an “after”, just like these clients.

Just a Reminder

Successful and sustainable weight loss takes time and patience. It’s not an overnight quick fix. In fact, most nutrition experts define “healthy weight loss” as one to two pounds per week. Of course, you may lose more depending on your body mass and how much weight you have to lose, but it’s never a good idea to severely restrict your calories or exercise excessively. Make sure that your calorie intake doesn’t fall under 1,200 calories per day and that you’re working out responsibly – 30 minutes five times per week is a great place to start.