Our Fitness Blog

Back To List
 Body Composition Success: It's As Simple As Counting Calories (or is it?)

Body Composition Success: It's As Simple As Counting Calories (or is it?)

Dr. Rick Kattouf II

I thought that might get your attention. Body composition success; it's something everyone wants, but not something everyone achieves. It seems pretty simple, right? Just count your calories, consume less than you burn and BAM!  Body fat loss will occur. But, as I talk about in my 3-DVD set, Rx Nutrition, "if it were as easy as calories in versus calories out, it would be that easy."


I don't want to give a mixed message because calories are important of course; they're just not the most important. Yes, they are a piece to the puzzle, but just one piece of a multi-piece puzzle. Let's first examine a few areas during the day where we burn calories:

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate: the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest to keep vital functions going, such as breathing and keeping warm.
  2. Exercise
  3. ADL's (activities of daily living)
  4. TEF (thermic effect of food):  the amount of energy expenditure above the BMR due to the cost of processing food for use and storage (basically, this is digestion)


 So, there are a number of areas in a day where we burn calories. And if we are looking to achieve body composition success, we just cannot focus and over focus on total calories consumed during a day. Let's say, for example, an individual needs 1700 cal a day to achieve their goal. And, let's say that's all we told this individual. Well, I am sure you would agree, there are tons of different ways to reach 1700 cal in a day. But guess what? There's only one right way (that is if we want meaningful and sustainable results for lifetime).


Therefore, the total amount of calories we consume in a day is not the key area of focus. Rather, how we arrive at these total calories for the day is the key area of focus. And these are two completely different animals. All too often, individuals look at their "magic number of calories to consume" as a numbers game or a bank of points, etc. Rarely are they concerned with how they reach their magic number, they just want to reach it. And, individuals will play games with these numbers. They will eat less at a given meal and snack early in the day so that they can eat more towards the end the day. They may eat less at lunch so that they can have a couple of glasses of wine at night. Individuals that are over focused on calorie counting simply look at reaching their magic number of calories as success. And once again, look no further than the earlier statement, "if it were as easy as calories in versus calories out, it would be that easy." And what is the result more often than not? Absolutely no body composition success when we follow calories.


And, the story gets even deeper. Check this out… More often than not, individuals may consume the "right amount of calories", but not only will they not see body fat loss, but, they may see body fat and body weight gain. This is where the frustration cycle starts to build with so many individuals. They just cannot understand how they are not getting results or even going in the opposite direction when their calorie count seems to be correct.


Well, again, it all goes back to how we arrive at these total calories. And if we want meaningful and sustainable results, there's only one right way to get there and it's this:

  • Fuel the body right away upon awakening. This is about as critical as it gets. Skipping meals can simply result in slowing one's metabolism. In addition, skipping meals can also lead to low serotonin levels, leading to increase food cravings, leading to overeating/binge eating sessions. And this all leads to a high amount of body fat gain and weight gain over time.
  • Fuel the body every 2.5-3.5 hours all throughout the day. Wow, this is critical for success. Not only are we fueling the body, we are fueling the brain. Not fueling the brain with this high frequency can lead to reduced mental acuity, moodiness and irritability (no one wants to be around someone that is moody and irritable!)
  •  Carbohydrate-Protein-Fat: here is another game changer. This is where we help individuals go from the world of eating healthy… Into the world of eating right. These are two completely different worlds. Choosing healthy foods is not the key to success. Rather, eating right is the key to success. And at every meal and snack, if we are looking for meaningful and sustainable results for a lifetime, the goal is as follows; 40-60% calories from carbohydrate, 15-30% protein, 15-30% fat.


Now, review those three bullet points above one more time. Every meal, every snack, if we can successfully check off each bullet point, guess what? We will then arrive successfully at the total calories for the day. Now you can start to see how simply consuming the "right amount of calories" is so far from successful. It takes a lot more effort and energy; and the effort and energy needs to be placed on how we are arriving at and achieving those total calories for the day.


In closing, break this down one baby step at a time. Take your focus off of, "today I'm going to eat the right amount of calories." That's too big of a chunk to bite off. The focus needs to be one small step at a time. So ask yourself, right away upon awakening, "What is my first meal of the day I will consume right away upon awakening?" Successfully answer and follow through with this question and you just knocked down the first domino, well done. Next question; "what time is my next meal/snack and what is my carbohydrate-protein-fat?" Again, successfully answer and follow through with this question, and you just climbed one more step on the ladder of success.


Knock this out one meal and snack at a time, and before you know it, you will put together one successful day after the next and in time, success will find you.


Dr. Rick Kattouf II

2x Best-Selling Author

Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year