"Burning Calories." What's it even mean? Heck- what IS a calorie even!?"


I've been convinced for a very LONG time the most important piece of truly understanding nutrition was understanding WHY and HOW things work- not just having someone tell you what to do.


This came up recently between an athlete and I.


Here's the question he posed: How does ‘burning’ calories fit into the picture? That term burning calories always get thrown around - how does it work in real life? MFP deducts exercise calories from the consumed calories. However, that doesn’t appear to be part of the V2P protocol.


It's an excellent question because he's right- I don't factor in "calories burned"....at least not on the surface.


Here's the reply to this athlete and an example of the approach I generally DO recommend and why...


"Great observation. Because you're right...it isn't the protocol we follow....and for good reasons I'll explain.


A calorie is simply a measure of heat and energy. So, "calories burned" is a measure of how much heat/energy you give off doing a different activity- everything from walking into your office to weighted rucks. SOME programs will give you a baseline calorie need and then have you adjust is DAILY based on expended energy. Your goal (calorie/macro) changed daily.


The problem with that is it doesn't take into account human nature and our absolute resentment to anything hard. So, the V2P approach is to make the entire process AS SIMPLE as humanly possible. The first way to do that is to keep the deficit linear vs cyclical and constantly changing. They "why" is simple- people adhere to it better. And, consistent adherence (as you've seen) is the KEY to progress.


What's more is MOST people follow the same training protocol (X minutes, X times per week). So, their expenditure doesn't change much anyway. Why over complicate it for them by adjusting their intake in confusing ways on a daily basis?


So, yes it matters, but CONSISTENCY matters more. And the BEST way to drive consistency is to build compliance by creating something simple and easy, but still works."


Seems too good to be true; right?


Wearables and Other Devices





To further complicate matters, wearable watches ("fitness trackers") and exercise machines typically OVER estimate how many calories it takes to do a certain activity. This generally leads to the watch wearer inadvertently overconsuming calories and seeing no progress. This leads to a perpetual cycle of trying SO hard without seeing ANY results. And THAT is the definition of insanity. It's no wonder people find balancing energy intake against expenditure so tough.


Complexity kills compliance. Make it simple. Make it enjoyable. And learn to adjust on the fly to reach your ultimate goal. What questions do you have on adjusting nutrition based on output (i.e. "burning calories)?


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