Calorie Intake Versus Output: Does it Really Matter?

One of the key elements to losing weight is keeping your intake less than your output. This means you need to burn more than you’re eating. In reality, it’s not all that difficult for most people to lose weight this way. It’s all about your managing your calorie intake.

I know this over-simplifies the process, but that’s the gist of reducing your mass. And yes, it’s possible to remain overweight while eating “healthy” foods if you consume too much.

Why Monitoring Calorie Intake Matters

Many people gain weight because they overeat without being active enough to burn the calories off. I am a prime example of this as I once reached in excess of 290 pounds.

That’s what happens when you eat a lot of Walmart cupcakes and live a sedentary lifestyle.

Granted, eating nothing but sweets is still bad on multiple levels. But the damage would have been far less if I would have done anything aside from sitting on my ass all day.

Keeping Calorie Intake Lower than Output

The number of calories you burn every day should be higher than what you consume if you want to lose weight. However, this doesn’t mean you should starve yourself and then do a 45-minute cardio exercise.

Even fat people need to keep eating. This is because you still need various vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep the body maintained. For example, the human body does not retain most B-complex vitamins…which means we need to consume them.

The trick is to eat enough to keep you going, but not too much that you don’t burn it off.

This is why I am against any form of starvation or “fasting” diet plans. Sure you’ll burn fat relatively quick. But you’ll also increase the risks to yourself. And personally, I just don’t see the point in putting yourself in dire straights just to fit into a pair of pants.

Without food, your body begins to essentially cannibalize itself. Proteins and other elements are broken down to keep your internal organs functional. Which is why you see starving people who look more like skeletal figures. It’s because the body is re-purposing fat, muscle and anything else to keep the person alive. 1

Being healthy is more than not having belly fat. It’s about making sure your internal organs are functioning as intended. Depriving yourself of various nutrition wears these elements down. In fact, fasting is often dangerous if you’re not already semi-healthy to begin with. 2

Yes, the Types of Food Matter…

Now, monitoring your calorie intake doesn’t mean you can eat nothing but cookies all day as long as you stay under your goal. The types of food you consume are going to affect you in a myriad of ways.

For example, foods higher in sugar content and carbs are problematic for people who are not physically active. These things promote energy for muscles, and unused portions can easily collect as fat.

Keeping under a specific number of calories can help almost anyone lose weight, but adding healthier alternatives to eating makes the difference. I’m not just talking about shrinking the waistline, here.

Healthy eating delivers nutrients your body needs to maintain itself. For instance, eating well improves your immune system to fight off infections as well as help cognitive abilities.

Can you eat yourself smart? In some regards, yes. In fact, a lot of foods can impact how you process information while keeping the mind clear and focused. You probably can’t eat yourself to Einstein levels of intelligence, but food will make a difference in your abilities. 3

…but Not As Much as You Think

While the types of food you eat will impact your body, you don’t have to restrict yourself to “proper eating.” In fact, it’s possible to maintain good health and a decent weight while still eating a lot of the same junk as before.

The real difference is eating less of it.

For example, don’t sit down and finish an entire meal at a restaurant. Most of these meals are actually around three to four times more food than you actually need in one sitting.

There’s nothing wrong with left-overs.

And if you want some ice cream for desert, then why not? As long as you stick to logical portion sizes, a bit of ice cream isn’t going to throw your body into the crapper. And that’s where a lot of people are misled.

Restrictive diets have a common element in which people wind up failing: it’s restrictive. Many of us don’t like the idea of cutting sweets out entirely. And you shouldn’t have to. The trick to this is being sensible with portion control.

I’m not saying that you can polish off a pint of chocolate peanut butter ice cream in one snack. In reality, 1/2 cup scoop is a proper portion size while keeping the calorie intake low. But don’t believe you have to avoid all sweet snacks altogether.

How I Lost 70 Pounds So Far

4 Year Difference

I didn’t jump on any mainstream diet plans or push myself into grueling exercise routines or gym visits. In reality, I didn’t do much to lose the weight outside of watching calorie intake and playing the Xbox Kinect.

Here is the basic breakdown of how I lost the last 70 pounds while working towards the remain 20 or so.

  • Use MyFitnessPal to Monitor Calorie Intake
    MyFitnessPal is a free app I use on my phone to track everything I eat. It gives me an idea of how much I can have throughout the day while keeping honest with myself.
  • Use a Fitbit Charge 2, or other Calorie Tracker
    I don’t focus on steps with Fitbit. I use it primarily as a way to track my calorie burn. The more active I am, the more I can safely eat. Remember, it’s all about finding balance.
  • Increase Physical Activity
    Don’t think of physical activity as a mundane exercise routine. Like I said, most of my weight was burned in front of the Xbox. Just get up and move every once in a while.
  • Add More Nutritious Foods
    Don’t starve yourself of goodies, but add in healthier alternatives throughout the day. I eat far more veggies today than I ever have…even though I still have peanut butter cups in the cupboard.

It all boils down to keeping my burn higher than my calorie intake. That’s pretty much it. While I do eat a bit better than I have in the past, the main process is keeping active in any way.

And coming from someone who works and plays sitting at the computer, keeping active isn’t always easy to come by. However, I make do with what I can to make sure my burn is higher than my intake.

7 Easy Ways I Keep Active

Since I don’t prescribe to an exercise regimen or practice mainstream diets and workout routines, what do I do to lose weight and build muscle mass? It’s actually quite simple. Here are just a handful of things I do on a regular basis to make sure my burn is greater than the calorie intake.

1. Play the Xbox Kinect

Games on the Kinect are exceptionally good for health and fitness…as long as you play them correctly. For instance, I love playing Tennis on the Kinect, but I also throw in dancing around like an idiot to “celebrate” while playing.

Want to increase your fitness rating in front of the Xbox? Slap on some weighted gloves. It adds far more work to various muscles and will help define your back, chest, shoulders and arms.

2. Yard Work

Lately, I’ve been on this kick to have a nice yard and do a bit of gardening. I have a long way to go before the lawn is on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but the activity burns a ton of calories.

This is especially true as I intentionally work on the yard during the hottest times of the day. Slap on some sunscreen and take to the lawn. If you think about it, yard work is more efficient than just sunning yourself. At least you’re getting something out of it aside form a tan.

3. House Cleaning

I can burn as many calories vigorously cleaning house as I can playing tennis. I know this because I track my heart rate during every activity. And the best part is that I can keep up on what needs to be done for a nice and clutter-free home.

That is, until my daughters visit. After which, I spend quite a bit of time putting the house back together. Which creates a cycle of fitness, I suppose.

4. Breaking Personal Records

Yes, I will put in the effort to do some form of traditional exercise. However, I use personal records to keep myself engaged in the activity. Currently, I am training myself to surpass my record of 22 lying leg raises by my birthday.

Keeping personal records of certain exercises is a good way to gamify fitness. Instead of the activity feeling like a mundane chore, you focus more on being better than you are.

Don’t worry about what everyone else can do. Try to one-up yourself.

5. Going Out and Being Social

One thing I am trying to do this summer is get out of the house more often and being social. Even something as simple as hitting the driving range at a golf course can burn more than 400 calories.

Whether you’re walking around an amusement park or bowling a few frames, it’s all relevant to keeping yourself active. Remember, it’s all about burning more than your calorie intake…no matter what game or activity you’re doing outside.

6. Walking Around the Yard

One thing I do often is walk around the yard during breaks. Instead of sitting in the office or in a cafeteria, take yourself outside for a few minutes and walk around the parking lot. Do this a few times a day and you easily burn off your lunch.

I usually walk as often as I can. It helps when you don’t own a car. But walking to the corner store instead of driving is something I’d still do even if I did have a vehicle.

7. Ride the Bike

Now that I am at a reasonable weight, it’s time to start training for my trek across the state of Colorado. As a result, I am putting more effort into riding than before. I would love to get back to where I was in my teen years of riding everywhere.

I was 22 before I had a car. I had a bike, why would I need a vehicle?

Riding a bike is excellent exercise, and a great form of transportation. No gas, no car insurance, no monthly payments…no windshield when it rains.

The point is you can easily burn your calorie intake by taking a few leisurely laps around the neighborhood.

Keep Calorie Intake Reasonable

The key to my ability to lose weight and build muscle is simply making sure I burn off more than I consume. I don’t worry about staying away from certain foods or only eating high-protein diets. It’s nothing more than keeping my eating habits in check and being more physical.

You don’t have to cut everything out of your daily eating habits. Just eat far less of the junk that made you overweight in the first place.[template id=”3591″]

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Sources

  1. Science Daily – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608091337.htm
  2. WebMD – https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is_fasting_healthy#1
  3. NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/

Michael Brockbank

Since 2015, Michael has put in the effort to lose more than 80 pounds by gamifying fitness and eating proper portion sizes. He conducts extensive research into various health and fitness products to provide the best answers possible according to his own experience and knowledge.

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