This calorie debate mainly originates from the Paleo diet. Regular Paleo'ers associate most fat gain with eating poor quality carbs and lots of them. And you know what they are right...to a degree.
Unfortunately what are most people reaching for these days is bagels, muffins, sandwiches, pasta, and thats not even taking into account fast food. Our societal habits and pace of life has led our diet and exercise habits astray. Enter the ever popular Paleo diet.
I want to point out that I am not totally harping on the Paleo diet. I completely agree with about 90% of its principles and I do believe that is the correct nutritional program for a lot of people (minimal movement and exercise).
After all I was completely entrenched in it for about 3 years. But being involved in the Paleo movement for so long also made me realize some of it faults and flaws.
The Paleo diet likes to associate the underlying workings of carbohydrates in the body as the one and only villain responsible for fat gain.
You eat carbs, they turn to glucose, an increased insulin response is associated with this glucose, and increased insulin equals increased fat storage. At least that is the coles notes.
Since the Paleo diet attributes fat gain to this increased insulin response associated with eating carbs, if you eliminate carbs you must then eliminate fat gain. Therefore once carbs are eliminated from your diet you can eat has much protein and fats as you like...not really.
Instead of jumping to the far side of this rather "extreme" approach you need to look into why many people have success on the Paleo diet.
First, by removing many of the poor carb sources from their diets, people do drop those added pounds relatively quickly for the reasons we just talked about.
Second, with the addition of increased protein and fats into their diets, people reach satiety much quicker and remain full for longer periods of time. The result of this is that most people will actually tend to consume less overall calories than they did when they were eating poor carb and food choices.
Makes sense right? I don't care who you ask if you substitute a Big Mac meal with chicken breast and loads of veggies you are going to see the benefits. Is from the removal of the carbs...a little. Is from from the decrease in over all calories and increase in nutrient dense foods...YES!
Paleo'ers (I don't know what else to call people following the Paleo diet so I am running with this) like to think that ALL fat loss is from the carbs. In reality, it is mainly from a overall reduction in calories and increase quality of food. They like to assume that calories do not matter if you are eliminating carbs. Well I respectfully disagree.
If you are telling me that I can drink coffee with coconut oil (which I love by the way), eat half a pack of bacon, a bun-less double burger for lunch, a full rack of ribs for dinner, and snack on nuts all day that I am going to lose weight I am in for a surprise...and a stomach ache.
At the end of the day calories matter!
The same could be said for a vegetarian. If you are eating 3500 calories of beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, etc. you are going to put on weight. Plain and simple!
However not all calories are created equal!
Take identical twins for example. Let's say that in order to lose weight it is calculated that they need to eat 2500 calories each day. Twin #1 eats a Paleo style diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, meats, and a few nuts to the tune of exactly 2500 calories.
Twin #2 also eats exactly 2500 calories but he eats doughnuts, chips, soda (diet though cause he is trying to lose weight), burritos, and pizza.
Both twins consume exactly the same amount of calories per day but from different sources. Who do you think will have better weight loss results?
Different foods have different physiological responses in the body. That is why twin #1 is going to lose more weight then twin #2. And if you ask 1000 people they will all say the same thing. It is a no brainer.
Both twins can lose weight but twin #1 is going to come out on top.
The point I am trying to make is that calories absolutely matter. Hey I used to think they didn't and I proved myself wrong.
At the end of the day it is the total amount of food consumed that has the largest impact on your weight loss results. BUT, a calorie is not a calorie and food choices do matter!
Being on one side of the calorie fence or the other is not the proper approach to take, especially for weight loss. Don't assume that calories are insignificant as long as you eliminate carbs and don't assume that you can eat whatever you like as long as you eat a calorie deficit.
Strike a balance!
Eat within your correct calorie range for weight loss but make smart food choices. That is where you will see maximum results and that is where you will achieve optimal health.
Live Your Best Life!