Whether you are attempting to build muscle mass or lose fat, hands down the most important component of your journey will be your focus on calories. Wherever you look when it comes to building the body of your dreams, you’ll notice signs pointing to the amount of calories you take in on a particular day. However, before we can dive into why that is the case (and it is the case!), we must figure out what a calorie essentially is and why the calories matter in your quest for optimal results.
Scientifically speaking, a calorie is the amount of energy that is required for 1 gram of water to rise 1 degree Celsius. Err, great, right?
That doesn’t tell us too much, or at least tell us anything matters. Instead, what you need to keep in mind when you think of calories is energy. That is the guiding principle, calories are energy. As a result, everything will turn on how much energy goes into your body (through food) and how much energy goes out (through activity).
Every individual expands a certain amount of energy per a 24 hour period (we’ll use this time frame, because it’s the easiest to deal with), however, that obviously varies depending on how much activity you perform in that time frame. People who work in an office all day will not have the same activity level as someone who is working construction. Nonetheless, here’s the good part…every second you are burning calories, yes, even while sitting and reading this article (your basic bodily functions require them). The bad news? It’s not a whole bunch of calories, so don’t get too excited.
What’s important to grasp is that our body is constantly going through an energy process, where we feed it energy in the form of calories from food, and it then uses that food to expand energy to let you do whatever it is you want to do. Depending on your activity levels per day, your energy expenditure will differentiate or stay relatively identical each day depending on whether your days follow a regular routine.
Keeping this in mind, it is easy to see (at least conceptually) how an individual wishing to alter their body weight can do so through the manipulation of calories. If they’re trying to lose fat, they’ll keep their calorie amounts lower than their daily caloric expenditures (‘dieting’), while those trying to put on some muscle mass will up the amount of food they eat in order to make sure they feed their bodies enough to grow. How can you know how much you should be eating in order to lose fat or gain muscle? Check out our maintenance calories article, where we discuss how many calories are required to maintain your weight. Once you know your maintenance, you can then begin your journey and use calories to your advantage in order to achieve your results.
Calories are the building blocks, they’re what allow you to function. However, they also make you put on unwanted weight or keep you skinny because you don’t want to eat. Figure out your maintenance, and you can begin your journey towards achieving a great body. Good Luck!