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Be About It

CPC's Blog About Health and Wellness

Saving Calories Throughout your Day Just Ain't a Thing

Tuesday, 4 / 4 / 17

Many individuals have a pretty accurate idea of the total number of calories they require in a day. They feel if they're not eating more than this in a day, their weight will not flux because it’s all about calories in vs. calories out right? NO! Especially when these same individuals choose to hoard calories throughout the day so they can indulge in a “cheat meal” to end it all.

Total calories in a day are what I track for success – right?

People are always looking for information and feedback relating to their diet. They will ask me what I personally think of their relationship with food and what I think they should eliminate, restrict, increase, add, etc. The conversation is so broad with so many moving parts that it should really only be discussed with an RD. I will, however, shed some light on a topic that we, industry professionals, get all the time: “saving calories” for a particular time, event or moment.

The human body is a machine and it needs to be fed, “fueled,” with quality sourced whole foods. (I have a very strong opinion about quality sourced whole foods but that’s for a different blog.) Your body requires and deserves a steady supply of calories and nutrients to allow it to perform optimally throughout the day. When stating “perform,” I am not restricting that to athletic performance. I am referring to all tasks your body needs to execute in a day. Digestion, circulation, cognitive thought, cellular repair… we’re talking a LOT of stuff. There are plenty of individuals that have goals surrounding their weight and wanting to drop a few pounds. The process in which this can occur positively, without negative consequences, is so delicate.

You cannot outsmart your digestive and endocrine system. These systems and processes have been developing for thousands of years and evolved to where they are now. Only within the last 50+ years have people been faced with so much excess food. The fact that there is going to be more food in front of you than you NEED at any one time is absolutely insane to your cellular makeup. Insane! You thinking that you can save your calories throughout the day so that you may overindulge at night doesn’t jive with the human body at all. Really what you are doing is teaching your body to expect to fast throughout the day.

When fasting, your digestive hormone glucagon (opposite of insulin) begins to rise. It’s presence in the bloodstream tells your cells that they should release glycogen (stored sugar) into the body for fuel. As more time passes your body also releases cortisol. Its function is to increase blood sugar but can serve to suppress your immune system and decrease bone formation – what?! How does this make calorie restriction throughout the day sound like a good idea? Notice the key element here is that fasting promotes the use of sugar as fuel, not your stored fat! Let’s also be really clear on how much your body hates this. We’re fighting thousands of years of evolution.

You cannot outsmart your digestive and endocrine system.

Okay. so you’ve put on a couple of extra pounds but you need to recognize your body is pumped about this as it thinks that now there’s a chance to survive famine. It does not want to give this extra weight up easily. It takes a gentle change and constant daily manipulation for positive results to occur. Reducing your daily caloric intake is critical in achieving your weight loss goal, but this needs to be a full commitment each and every day. Being “good” on weekdays and letting it all fall apart on weekends isn’t going to make it happen. Restricting yourself throughout the day and then indulging 40, 50 or 60% of your daily calories at night isn’t going to get you there either.

Here is an analogy on caloric restriction for you. Think of saving calories like rain. The meteorologist tells us that we will have a long, rainy day with the potential of seeing 2 inches (think calories). The slow soak drops down on us from the sky at a rate comfortable enough for the trees, shrubs and grasses to absorb as they want. Some of the trees want a little more than the grasses and shrubs want a little more than the succulents. All various vegetation lined up next to each other working as one ecosystem much like your amazing human body. Our cells are all stacked up and have certain needs. Fueling our bodies mindfully throughout the day allows our cells to absorb what they want, when they want it. The skeletal muscle of the quadriceps may require much more than the large intestines do, following your workout. Yet your kidneys are looking for much more than your abs by mid-day. Different areas of the body carry out different, critical processes at various times of the day. You can’t dictate which cells should be ready to uptake their necessary requirement when you tell them to - it just doesn’t work like that.

If the meteorologist tells us that we are going to get a gigantic thunderstorm with a possible chance of 2 inches of rain (same as above) in thirty minutes, we know it's going to be ugly. There's no possible way that the vegetation will have the time to absorb the water they need, so the structures we have created to harness excess water are critical. Storm drains, gullies, retention ponds and reservoirs are where the excess water goes (think of this like fat cells). You now have an excess amount of water in a reservoir located miles away from your house and want to use it.

It’s not very likely you will want to invest the time and energy to go get said “water." Rather, you will wait around for the next rain storm, forecasted for tomorrow morning even though it’s going to be a very light drizzle (small breakfast). So until that moment you will just make sure you use less water at home and conserve what you can (slow your metabolism). If you get thirsty, you can drink bottled water (stored sugar) and you’ll totally make it. I mean there’s really no reason to go through the hassle of bringing that water back from the reservoir (using your fat storage).

Like I said at the beginning of this rant, this whole topic is an enormous learning experience that takes patience to navigate for yourself. Some important things to recognize: Eat real foods, fuel throughout your day, treat your body well, and don’t save calories. Allowing yourself to indulge is an essential part of a happy life. Making yourself “pay for it” before or after will do more harm than good. Your body will do what it needs to do keep you on track. Trust in that process and love the body you’re in!

TAGS: Knowledge, Health, Learning, Diet, Nutrition, Weight Loss
Geoff Sullivan