Personal Training, Fitness and Nutrition Motivation

Friday, August 17, 2018

Understanding Food Intake, Calories, and Your Body

Food is chemistry once you eat it. Your body knows what you consumed and how to break it down. It also knows how to shuttle the nutrients to where your body needs them. Pretty awesome!

Your body sees food as energy or calories. It also understands that carbohydrates are used primarily for that fuel. Eating protein is used for muscle repair, and fat is a secondary energy source but also helps maintain your core body temperature.

So why do we complicate this process? Your only job is to eat the right things and your body will do the rest. Your body also knows how to process unhealthy food. Unfortunately, the breakdown of processed food like items turns into inflammation and unwanted stored fat.

Understanding Calories

Calories are units of energy the body needs to function. They come from eating proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Fats are the densest and contain the most energy. Fats equate to 9 calories per gram, whereas proteins and carbs are 4 calories per gram.

Whenever too many calories are consumed and not burned off through bodily functions and physical activity, it gets stored. The storage form of energy is fat.

Eating is truly that simple but many of you struggle with consuming too many calories and not exercising. This has lead to the overweight and obesity epidemic in the United States.

It Adds Up

If you eat 2000 calories per day but only burn 1500 calories per day, you are in excess of 500 calories. This gets stored in your body as fat. 

There are 3500 calories in one pound of fat. If a person continued to be in excess of 500 calories daily, this would equate to one pound of stored fat every seven days. This would also mean gaining approximately 4lbs of fat per month.

Without changing your eating habits and lifestyle, a person could gain close to 50lbs per year. 

Can you see how this adds up?

Keep it Simple

Eating right doesn't have to be some complicated process. There is nothing fancy about eating for a healthy body. It really comes down to the simple chemistry behind how your body uses calories and nutrients. 

Think about every morsel you eat as a calorie ready to be converted to a usable form of energy in your body. This way of thinking can change your whole relationship with food. It should motivate you to consume the right amount of good stuff. Quality whole foods in the tank equal quality energy and nutrients.

Basic calorie chemistry looks like this:

  • Too many calories compared to energy out – fat is stored, weight is gained.
  • Fewer calories compared to energy out – energy is burned, no fat is stored, weight is lost.
  • The same amount of calories compared to energy out – no weight is lost or gained.

Eat to Live Healthy

If you have been in caloric excess and steadily gaining weight, you can turn this around. Taking control of your food chemistry to create a caloric deficit involves eating right and being active.

The goal is eating to live healthily. If you want to maintain a normal, healthy weight, it will take consuming the right amount of calories for you. It also means eating whole real foods and not processed food like products.

Keeping a food journal can help you chart calories to start. Eventually, eating healthy will become a habit and journaling will no longer be needed.

Eat Healthy Food 

Eating right means consuming healthy food. The following list will be helpful to consume quality calories and nutrients:


  • B/S chicken and turkey breast
  • Salmon, halibut, tilapia, albacore tuna
  • Lean beef  (90% lean)
  • Greek yogurt (natural, no sugar added)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Milk (2%), almond milk, coconut milk, low-fat chocolate milk
  • Lentils, dried beans, navy beans, no to low-sodium canned beans
  • Peanut butter (natural, no-sugar-added), almond butter
  • Raw mixed nuts
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa


  • Vegetables (broccoli, peppers, squash, asparagus, etc) 
  • Leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale, etc)
  • Fruits (apples, berries, mango, cherries, etc)
  • Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peas, and beans)
  • Quinoa, kamut, barley, buckwheat, flax meal
  • Brown rice (white rice for some athletes)
  • Whole wheat, whole grain bread
  • Steel cut oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White and red potatoes (baked not fried)


  • Avocados
  • Chickpeas (hummus)
  • Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, etc (raw-unsalted, not roasted)
  • Olive oil
  • Salmon (Omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Nut and seed butter (natural, no sugar added)
  • Ground flaxseed or flax meal
  • Chia seeds

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  1. Love the sweet potato idea with yogurt.
    Compared to your meal plan, it seems like I'm eating TONS!!


  2. How do you subscribe to the blog?

    1. Hi Dan - on the right hand side top of the page, you will find a box that says - send Blog to email. Enter your email and that's all there is to it. Let me know if it works for you. Thanks for reading and Stay Healthy.


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