The mantra calories in/calories out has been around for ages, and while it does make sense that, in order to lose weight, we should be burning more calories than we consume, there is a little bit more to it than just that. Read on to find out why it’s not just about calories in/calories out.

Calories are a unit of energy that the human body requires in order to operate. Everything from brain activity to blood flow requires energy. If our bodies require 2,000 calories each day but we only consume 1,800, there would be a calorie deficit of 200 and the body would look to other sources, such as fat reserves, to make up that deficit.

If, on the flip side, you consume 2,200 calories, that surplus 200 calories will be stored in the body as fat, and too many surplus days is what causes us to gain weight.

Seems pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, losing weight isn’t really as simple as just calories in/calories out. A lot of factors come in to play including age, metabolism, and gender, just to name a few, but the quality of your calories may be more important than the quantity.

If you want to lose weight, having greater understanding of how food effects the body beyond just the calorie may help you on your journey toward optimal health.


Protein can come from animal sources such as meat, fish and dairy, or it can come from plants like grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Protein is important because a number of functions in the body require protein to function including building and repairing muscles. The body is unable to store protein indefinitely and excess protein is converted into alternate energy sources such as glucose.


Fat gets a bad rap, but it is essential to our wellbeing to eat enough healthy fats. Fat helps in the absorption of vitamins and helps us maintain healthy skin and hair. It also helps us regulate body temperature and provides shock protection for our organs. Healthy fats can be found in a number of sources including fish, eggs, certain oils and avocados.


Carbohydrates, or Carbs, are found in a wide range of refined foods such as bread, pasta, cereals and candy. These are the types of foods you want avoid or only eat only in moderation. The better kind of carbs are found in unrefined foods such as beans, sweet potatoes and whole grains. Carbs are turned into energy in your body and these are the calories that are called on when the body wants to do something beyond the normal functions that require protein or fat.

If you’ve heard of carb-loading before a big race, it’s done to maximize the amount of energy stored in the body to be ready for the huge effort ahead. Carbs are actually totally unnecessary for normal life function, however, there are many other nutrients found in foods such as whole grains and fruits that do contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

The best method to weight loss is to think practically about what you are putting in your body. Understanding the effects of different nutrients and what they are doing once you consume them is a great step toward taking control of your health.

Another great way to take control of your health and manage your weight is having a consistent, fun and effective exercise habit. Sign up for a free trial of our San Diego fitness classes and get your new fitness habit started today.