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What is the concept of "Calories in vs. Calories out"?

Updated on April 14, 2015

What are Calories?


noun: calories

  1. 1.either of two units of heat energy.
    • the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules).noun: small calorie; plural noun: small calories

Introduction to Calorie Maintenance

The crucial element in every diet are calories. Every effective weight loss plan must take into consideration calories and your daily goals for burning them.

Nothing else has the same impact over your diet as much as this misunderstood concept.

Working out and staying active is important for building muscle, strength and endurance, however eating properly is the KEY to EVERYTHING!

Simplicity of Calories

Many people don’t understand the affect calories can have on their weight loss results. The concept is not difficult to understand, but it must be implored in order to reach sufficient weight loss.

When you take it down to its basic form and truly understand it, losing weight is quite simple and often does not require any weight loss supplements.

Video Explanation

Heres the Trick to Calories In vs. Calories Out

Burn off more energy per day than you intake.

One thing to keep in mind is that Energy = Calories

Anything that you eat or drink has calories that add up throughout the day to equal your "intake" or "in". The main exception to this is water. Water contains no caloric value and does not increase your total count.

The "intake" concept is relatively straightforward; however the concept of "output" or "out" is a bit more complex. The concept of calories out deals with burning off what you have consumed by activity and movement, because everything you do on a daily basis requires energy.

There are different amounts of energy expended for various activities. For example weight training involves more energy that walking to your room, however both of these activities require energy. Therefore, both of these activities burned calories and added to your total amount of energy burned.

Daily Calorie Possibilities

There are three different scenarios that can occur during daily nutritional intake. The first is a caloric surplus, this occurs when your calorie intake is larger than your output. This scenario produces weight gain because your body has to store your extra calories as fat.


The most sought after scenario for people on a diet is a caloric deficit. This is when your intake is less than your output. This results in weight loss and can be achieved by dieting and exercise.


However the most frustrating scenario when dealing with weight loss is caloric maintenance. This occurs when your intake and burning are equal. This balance produces no adjustments in weight.


Taking in more calories than your body is burning per day will result in weight GAIN. Simple as that. However, if you want to bulk properly you need to eat clean and take in lots of protein in order to build serious muscle and not just gain empty weight

Understanding the concept of calories

The understanding of these concepts allows for the most effective weight loss plans. Proper dieting comes with understanding your diet and proper energy burning habits. Weight loss is not difficult if you understand how calories actually work.

Exercises to burn fat don't work alone, they need a lifestyle that makes the exercise part of an energy burning routine. You're body knows how to burn fat, but you need to know how to regulate your intake so the body can do its job.

Diet and exercise is always the key. Doing any fat burning exercise without a healthy diet is not going to get you the results you want. Your nutrition must be your first priority!

Breaking it Down

To break it down simply:

In order to gain weight:

  • Measure your body weight, height and level of activity
  • Use a calorie calculator to determine your bodies calorie amount needed to stay at the weigth you are at: this is called your "daily maintenance calories"
  • Adjust your diet to eat 500 calores MORE than your DMC per day
  • Workout hard and lift heavy!
  • Track your macros!

In Order to Lose Weight

  • Measure your body weight, height and level of activity
  • Use a calorie calculator to determine your bodies calorie amount needed to stay at the weigth you are at: this is called your "daily maintenance calories"
  • Adjust your diet to eat 500 calores LESS than your DMC per day
  • Workout hard and lift heavy!
  • Track your macros!

Remember, none of this matters if you do nothing but sit on the couch all day!

What are your goals?

What is your current fitness goal?

See results

Wrapping Up

The trick behind any exercise to burn fat is to understand your metabolism. Your body works in a balance of intake, and the rate of burn is based on your metabolism.

Fat burning exercises raise your metabolism, and that’s how your body uses exercises to burn fat.


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    • vespawoolf profile image


      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      So true--both diet and an exercise program are important for weight loss and we have to burn what we take in. Very useful and thought-provoking.

      Welcome to HubPages! I look forward to more interesting (and healthy) articles. : )

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Welcome to HubPages!

      This is an interesting basic hub on calories.

      I think one of the things people really don't pay attention to when it comes to calories is beverages. Anyone who drinks a lot of soda, beer or energy drinks, or even juice, is consuming quite a few empty calories that may help energize you, but isn't filling enough to be worth the caloric consumption.

      Thanks for the (calorie-free) food for thought. Good luck on HubPages!


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