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Do “Calories In” Count More Than “Energy Out” for Weight Loss?

posted: 04/15/15
by: Stephanie Vuolo
woman looking at cheeseburger
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If you eat a cheeseburger, how many calories will it take to burn it off?
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You might think if you exercised more, you'd finally be able to lose those last 10 pounds. It seems like our country's ever-growing problem with obesity could be solved if there was an increase in overall physical activity. Our ancestors didn't have such an outrageous obesity epidemic. Didn't they move a lot more? They certainly walked everywhere and didn't watch television or sit at a desk all day.

I often hear people in the gym say that they exercise to be able to eat more or to not have to watch what they eat. Would it shock you to hear that even though our ancestors moved much more than we do today, there is no significant difference in the daily calories expenditure we each require? The Atlantic reports: "Whether you are hunting down and killing your own dinner or just grabbing takeout after sitting at the computer all day," you basically need the same number of calories. This research suggests that controlling the amount of calories you take in might just be the key in maintaining a healthy weight. It certainly debunks that you need to put in a lot of time at the gym and you can eat as much as you want and you'll lose weight.

The modern day hunter-gathering community that was studied doesn't have the option of picking up drive through for lunch or keeping a well-stocked pantry filled with processed food. Surely, the surplus of food that surrounds most of us encourages more calories than needed to be consumed. Keeping a food journal to get an idea of everything that goes into your body can be helpful in raising awareness of what you are actually eating. It can help you to cut out dessert a few times a week or not eat that extra bite of food left on your child's plate.

Physical activity is still important. Being strong and cardiovascularly fit has much greater merits than fitting into those skinny jeans. Just remember moving more doesn't mean you get to eat more if you want to slim down.