Blog Post - News, Views and Tips

Calories – Sugar or Fat?

Calories - Sugar or Fat - Pro:Kinesis Personal Training, High WycombeA question I’m regularly asked is whether we should be watching the sugar, the fat or just the calories when buying foods and trying to lose weight?

Well the good news is that all of it can be eaten and enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. What you need to understand though is this – Every pound of body fat = 3,500 calories. Basically, in order to lose 1lb of fat in 1 week, you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories, i.e. 3,500 calories less than your body physically requires over the course of that week. Simple maths means therefore that you need to consume or eat 500 calories a day less than your body requires in order to shed 1lb of body fat per week.

Now interestingly our taste buds tend to utilise fat, sugar and salt to determine how good something tastes, and food manufacturers are well aware of this. So when a ‘healthy option’ version of a food product claims to be low in fat, it is very common for the sugar and/or salt level to have been increased by the manufacturer in order to compensate in the taste department when compared to its standard product. Likewise a low sugar product can be higher in fat than the alternative. Importantly 1g of fat contains 9 calories, whilst 1 g of sugar (carbs) contains 4 calories, and therefore simply opting for ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’ versions of products can be deceiving in terms of total calorie consumption, and can in certain cases actually lead to weight gain instead of achieving the targeted weight loss. Additionally many low fat or low sugar foods are flavoured with extra artificial ingredients, especially sweeteners, which have the knock on effect of making us crave more sugary foods, because the artificial sweetness hasn’t satisfied your brain. Therefore, as a general rule your target is basic calorie reduction, whilst simultaneously trying to keep the fat and sugar content as low as possible.

Now, eating 500 calories a day less is easier than burning an extra 500 calories through exercising more, but ideally you should aim for a combination of diet and exercise to help create this deficit, as you will achieve your target quicker. Therefore, as a simple thing, try to do some interval style (slow/quick/slow/quick) exercise like walking/running for 20-30 minutes every day, or at least every other day. Remember to ensure that you are warmed up before you do the higher intensity part of the exercise, and that you cool down slowly at the end. If you are new to exercise, start with just 10 minutes, and increase this by a couple of minutes a week until you are doing your 20-30 minutes. Another great way to help your body burn fat is to invest in some weights and do resistance training, or failing that utilise body weight exercises. This keeps your metabolism fired up and burning calories and fat efficiently, and also helps you sculpt your body and protect your bone density.

Please note – make sure you don’t strain yourself and always get a doctors clearance before you start any exercise program.