Calories get a lot of attention. They appear in nutrition tracking systems, on food packages, and even on restaurant menus. They are the foundation of most weight loss plans, but are they the sole solution to our weight-y worries?
The answer is: probably not. Weight is messy and complicated, and looking it as a matter of energy in vs. energy out simply doesn’t take into account the whole picture. So what other factors play into the number of scale?
A Calorie is not just a Calorie. Food has a functional value (even if you’re trying to ‘shed and shred’). For example, fiber-rich foods help fill you up, and proteins require more energy to digest. Consuming a wide variety of fruit, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grain carbohydrate can help you feel satisfied without consuming more than you need.
When to nosh is another important consideration for losing weight. ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper’ has some truth to it. Research shows that stacking your Calories later in the day increases the likelihood of overweight and obesity .
Similarly, how often you eat makes a difference. Long gaps between meals and snack predispose you to overindulgence and weight gain. When blood sugar levels drop, stress hormones spur cravings for Calorie-dense, fatty, salty, and sugary foods. Eat often and eat early to tip the scale in the right direction.
Type Of Exercise.
High intensity interval training is one of the hottest trends in fitness at the moment and for a good reason. Alternating between periods of high intensity work and rest produces greater gains in strength and muscle than traditional steady state activities like jogging and walking. Moreover, high intensity training produces a bigger spike in metabolism, which can last up to several hours post-exercise. That doesn’t mean that you should go berserk everyday, but a few higher intensity sessions a couple of times a week may nudge you in the right direction.
Sleep is another factor that can support or thwart your weight loss efforts. Research shows that skipping on shut eye can have unfavorable effects on your waistline (among other things) . Food is used as a pick-me-up in times of fatigue, and causes a variety of metabolic and hormonal changes that make us hungrier than usual . Sure, getting enough rest doesn’t have a kcal value attached to it but it is incredibly important for good health, particularly when you have a weight loss goal in mind.
Emotional stress affects more than just our heads—it affects our bodies too. Studies suggest that chronic stress can lead to belly fat deposition, and junk food cravings, as well as lowered immunity . Again, keeping a lid on your stress levels is something that is often overlooked when the discussion is centered around Calories.
And that’s not all…set point weight, medications, genes, hormonal changes and weight cycling can affect where the scale lands too. If you’re having trouble getting to your goal, think outside the box. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you having enough at breakfast? Is stress holding you back? What you weigh and, more importantly, how you feel, is so much more than a Calorie game.
Originally published at theorangechef.com.
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