Calories out – as exercise.
Calories in – as food.
With a caveat.
- Have you ever carried one of those 5 gallon water jugs to refill a cooler? (if not, try it)
- Now carry that 5 gallon jug for a mile to fetch water every time you need it
- If you don’t move to the point of exertion, every day, you won’t be as healthy as you want
- You only have to workout on the days you eat (only half-kidding)
Before the agricultural revolution 10,000+ years ago (also known as the Neolithic Revolution), all humans had to spend energy to secure energy. In other words, you had to burn calories to find, hunt, chase, fish, carry and prepare everything that you ever ate or drank. Compare that to turning on the faucet. Once you’ve got your water, go find, chop and gather wood for a fire. How does that compare to adjusting the dial on your thermostat?
Truth be told, if your ancestors didn’t move, they didn’t eat. As a hunter and gatherer, if you didn’t hunt and gather, you didn’t eat (if you didn’t move, you got eaten).
You inherited a genome that expects and requires energy expenditure through movement. Our genes are best thought of as an owner’s manual. Science is revealing more every day about how to read this double helix code book to unlock the instructions for optimal living. If we wish to be truly healthy and function optimally, we must follow the manual. If we intend to maximize the quality of our lives. We must live by design.
Every cell in your body is stuffed with a genetic legacy that has been shaped over thousands of generations of successful adaptations to environmental stressors and the resultant behaviors that promoted survival and reproduction. One key behavior that left an indelible imprint on your genetic owner’s manual is movement. The most active humans won in the greatest contest known to man: life.
Your cells are hard-wired to expect movement. All of your body’s physiology, especially metabolism, is geared for regular exertion (read: intense activity). Movement is as much a cellular nutrient as vitamin C or an essential element as oxygen. Any deficiency in vitamin C or oxygen is readily apparent. Like vitamin C, movement is a latent essential element – it’s not immediately apparent, but the effects are devastating.
The divorce that now exists between energy acquisition and energy consumption has led to an energy imbalance – better thought of as an energy crisis – and has produced the greatest threat to mankind’s health today: chronic disease. Although we have been designed to adapt magnificently to famine, we have no physiological defense against abundance and abuse…except intelligence and free will.
We must recognize that in our modern industrialized world, most things are done for us. Previously obligate activities like running down your lunch are no longer on your daily planner. We must remember that busy does not equate to active.
We burn fat or store fat based on the simple but profound energy equation:
Calories In (consumed) – Calories Out (burned) = Net Calories Stored or Lost
The caveat: contrary to what you may have heard, a calorie is not a calorie – there are enormous implications to the type of calories you consume: there are quality, nutrient-dense calories (i.e. whole, fresh foods) and there are ’empty’ calories (i.e. sweets and processed foods). Calories from candy, bread or ice cream are not the same as calories from avocado, raw nuts, or salmon – you must own that reality.