The most basic and fundamental law that governs whether we lose or gain weight is the law of thermodynamics. This law states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed from one type to another. Although thermodynamics is often difficult to understand, calories themselves are a simple principle to understand. Ultimately, your weight is dependant on the amount of energy you consume compared to the amount of energy you use. So what is a calorie?
A calorie, as often referred to on a nutrition label, is a unit of energy. More specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 litre of water by one degrees Celsius. When you eat food, you are consuming the energy that is contained within the protein, carbohydrates and fat molecules. So how does your body use a calorie? Your body is only able to do 2 things with the calories you consume from your food; Either burn it or store it. This is how calories affect our bodies on the law of thermodynamics because when we eat food the calories can never disappear or be destroyed, they can only change their form. Unfortunately, the primary storage mechanism for any excess calories consumed is fat rather than muscle. So in a nutshell -
- If you consume more calories than you burn you will gain weight
- If you burn more calories than you consume you will lose weight
- If you consume the same amount of calories that you burn your weight will remain steady
To keep yourself alive your body is always a minimal amount of calories to support the functions of vital organs such as your heart, lungs, brain, nervous system, kidneys, liver, lungs and skin. This rate of caloric burn is called your basal metabolic rate. Put simply – The more you move the more your body draws on excess calories to use as energy.
The simplest way to lose weight? Eat clean whole foods like lean proteins and vegetables. Avoid anything processed or in a box, bag or packet. Minimise sugar and alcohol. Get off the sofa and start to move. Even something as simple as walking around the block raises your heart rate and in turn burn calories. Eat fewer calories than you burn and (unless you have a low thyroid or other medical condition) your body has absolutely no option but to use your excess calories (body fat) as energy to survive.