By Wayne York, ASCM EP-C

Some human performance experts claim the body is capable of burning enough calories during exercise that diet becomes obsolete. Before accepting this conclusion, let’s first consider the math: if someone burns more calories than they consume, they could potentially lose excess weight. If an individual is trying to lose fat, there’s more to consider. In order to decrease body fat, this person would need to keep in mind that your overall daily deficit would have to equal about 500 calories (500 calories x 7 days for a week = 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat burned) for every day of the week.


We can calculate the number of calories needed a day to stay “in deficit” based on an individual’s basal metabolic rate (the number of calories the body needs to function at rest), the amount of food consumed, and number of calories burned during exercise.


Seems simple right? However, everything we eat has differing nutritional value, and the types of foods we eat play an important role in weight loss. It is better to eat foods that are more nutrient dense versus foods that are just empty calories (such as alcohol). Consuming large amounts of foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats don’t make for good sources of energy. Rather, they make us feel bloated and sluggish draining our energy. Carbohydrates are good sources of energy for activity as they are easily converted into fuel; however, it is very important to control portion sizes. Natural (or un-refined) forms of carbohydrates are more beneficial, such as  fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


In conclusion, calorie consumption can get out of hand fast and we simply cannot exercise enough to make up the difference. The culprit is muscle fatigue, which sets in before our bodies can burn the excess calorie intake. Choosing healthy foods with controlled portion sizes will put you on the fast track toward creating a healthier lifestyle.