Is it just about calories in and calories out?

How many times have you heard this when it comes to weight loss? “It’s just about calories in and calories out”. Some people that follow this get great results whilst others don't.

Hearing the words “it’s easy to lose weight, you just need to get into a calorie deficit” are like nails on a chalkboard to me as I have seen from personal experience and with clients the damage it can cause to your health. It is something that is pushed by the media and is an easy response to a much deeper problem, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that people believe this, but are then disappointed and shocked with their long-term results which often leads to “Yo-yo” dieting” and constant fad diets.

Not everything is quite as it seems when it comes to rapid weight loss:

You may have heard about the TV programme “The Biggest Loser USA” that had a lot of hype a few years ago. If you haven’t, it’s basically a group of overweight/obese individuals that are desperate to lose weight and for several weeks are put on a calorie restricted diet and given vigorous PT sessions every day. The contestants endure this physically and mentally draining process as the reward for losing the most weight is a big pile of cash plus they will drop masses of weight after the process – it all sounds too good to be true!

Well, during that programme we see all the emotional turmoil followed by amazing weight loss and how happy people are now that they have lost so much weight after battling for years with obesity. It’s hard not to be amazed as we feel empathy towards the contestants and their stories, but the sad truth is that what we see on T.V isn’t exactly the full picture and the reality of these T.V shows is that they create very misleading nutrition and fitness advice.

For a number of these contestants this is a short-term weight loss and in fact, in some cases, the contestants put on even more weight when they finished the program and go back to normal life and eating habits. Yes, frightening to think as they were trained by “Professional Celebrity Personal Trainers” who surely know what they are talking about, right? In some cases, the weight gain was so bad that they actually prosecuted the show.

Check out


So, why does this method of starving yourself, training every day and eating a low-fat diet not work?

As the first article goes on to say ” The body fights really hard against weight loss, especially in the months and years after you finish a gruelling diet and exercise plan. And this happens, at least partially, because of a series of complex biological changes that occur when you diet.”

It’s all about your Hormones and Metabolic rate:

  • Think of your hormones in this simplified way: they are messengers that tell your body to either burn fat or store it for a rainy day. If you starve your body, you raise stress which increases one of the main fat storing hormones: Cortisol. You may have heard of cortisol is one of the “Fight or flight” hormones, so when your body is in a state of high stress (being chased down by a tiger or the modern-day equivalent of getting a bad email from your boss) this hormone along with adrenaline kick into action. Well, even though you are not being chased by a tiger your body still triggers this hormone response as it panics and internal stress increases. In this example, cortisol is trying to help you by holding onto any fat it can as it thinks your body is going to starve and this rapid lack of food and low-fat diet has kicked it into overdrive.

  • When someone is young and their metabolism is not yet damaged from dieting and sugar eating, a person naturally will not gain excess fat. This changes as we age, especially if we have gut issues or have damaged our metabolic rate (the rate at which our body burns fat/utilises nutrients from our food). You may be able to get away with the calories in calories out method late into your 20’s and even 30’s if you have a great metabolism, but for the majority of stressed out busy professionals, this isn’t the case.

So there are several things I look at when helping clients try to lose weight:

1) The ageing process of hormones

2) The health of the metabolism

3) The life stress a person has e.g. busy job/children etc

4) The foods people eat to either trigger fat burning or fat storing

5) Background medical history and family history

6) How "Healthy" are they?

When someone tells you, weight loss is matter of CALORIES IN = CALORIES OUT, they are not factoring in the hormone effect and the age and health of the metabolism and the individual. Simply “working out” and starving yourself of calories isn’t going to work. You may get some short-term effects of weight loss, but the overall impact on your body long term could be devastating on your hormones, metabolism and mental and physical wellbeing. Ask yourself, is it really worth the risk?

If you found this article helpful please checkout my other blogs.


Holistic Health Coach and Bulletproof Performance Coach


Disclaimer: *This content is strictly the opinion of the bperformance blog/Mark Wignarajah, and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither bperformance/Mark Wignarajah takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program

#calories #weightloss #fitness #health #performance #diet #nutrition #lifestyle #energy #food

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