When it comes to getting the body you want, it’s important to follow the laws of how your body works. Since what we eat accounts for 70-80% of our lifestyle performance (losing weight, building muscle, maintaining a healthy life), it’s important to know the fundamental law of nutrition. Let’s talk about the granddaddy of nutritional laws:

The Law of Energy Balance

  • To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume each day.
  • To gain weight, you must consume more calories than you burn each day.

Sounds simple, right? Calories in must be less than calories out to lose weight. Well, hang tight. There’s a couple of additional points to make about this law.

1) Too much of anything gets stored as body fat.

Burning calories must fall in line with the law of thermodynamics, just like any other energy source. Consuming too much of anything–even healthy foods–will make you gain weight when you go over your calorie limits.

Granted, some foods are healthier than others. It’s still more nutritionally sound to eat a pound of kale instead of a pound of pizza. It’s not a matter of low-carb, no-carb, or high-carb, either; eating more calories than you can burn will lead to weight gain, usually as body fat. The same is true for a high-protein diet: eating too much puts weight back on your body as fat. There’s no “all you can eat” option when it comes to losing weight, no matter how low carb or high protein that food is. It’s the law.

2) Eat fewer calories than you burn, and it won’t be stored as body fat.

“See? I can junk food after all, so long as it’s low in calories!”
Hold up there, sunshine. While you can technically get away with a low-cal junk food diet and not gain weight, you still wouldn’t do yourself any favors. That old adage of “You are what you eat” holds true: your body uses whatever you give it to rebuild itself all the time. Sure, you can build a smaller body out of Pringles and Skittles, but would you really want to?

Instead, think of calorie quality over quantity. When you eat more lean meats and fresh vegetables in your diet, you keep calories lower than bingeing on burgers. Hell, you can still have your cake and eat it, too–just don’t eat the whole damn thing.

Baby Steps

Prepping your own foods at home will go a long way towards eating the right kinds of calories. Go for the meat case and produce section at the supermarket. Eating more [fibrous vegetables][http://greatist.com/health/surprising-high-fiber-foods] will help keep you full at a low calorie count, too. Pick up one of these veggies on your next grocery run and try it out with dinner that night. Baby steps like this will lead your body in the right direction, so long as you obey the law of energy balance.

I believe in you.

Special thanks to Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle for the Law of Energy Balance tips.

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