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Worrying About Calories Is Stupid

Control your hormones and you control your health. Here's how.

Many of us think of the body as a calories-in vs. calories-out battlefield. Like a scale, a teeter-totter or a perfect equation, if you reduce the amount of calories consumed or increase the amount of calories burned, you'll lose weight. We call this the calorie model of weight loss and it’s often the reason people go to the gym—to get on an elliptical trainer and “burn off those french fries I ate last night.” This way of thinking makes sense. It just doesn’t work very well. The fact is, the body is a more complicated piece of machinery than a simple scale. For example, in the body’s never-ending pursuit of homeostasis, if you reduce calorie intake, the body will automatically reduce calorie burn. You don't have a choice. Unlike the United States Government, the body doesn’t like to spend what it does not have. Ergo, the body will quickly figure out a way to operate on fewer calories, completely defeating your eat-less, lose-more strategy. If you decide to really tip the scales by dramatically reducing calorie intake, your body will go berserk. First of all, you’ll become calorie-obsessed (translation: nobody will like you). You’ll become an angrier, slower version of yourself. You’ll get cold. You’ll have no sex drive. You may even lose your hair. Now, don’t get me wrong. A dramatic reduction in calorie intake will help you lose weight, but you’ll become unlikable, angry, sluggish, frigid, sexless, and bald. Nobody wants that. So if the calorie model is a bust, what's a better way of thinking about weight-management? Enter hormones. Eighth grade biology class taught us that hormones are chemical messengers floating around inside of us, which help one part of the body talk to other parts of the body. What eighth grade biology didn’t drive home is that everything we do affects our hormones which, in turn, affect everything we do. Our happiness? Totally dependent upon our serotonin levels. Stress levels? Cortisol. Sex drive? Testosterone. Motivation? Dopamine. Even our likeability has everything to do with our hormones. Hormones are the master puppeteers of our bodies and minds—they control our mood, our sleep, our strength and, yes, our body fat. So if you want to get shredded, let’s stop worrying so damn much about calories and figure out how to optimize our “lean” hormones. NEXT: THE THREE MAJOR HORMONES AND HOW TO CONTROL THEM >>


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