As a nutritionist it's expected that I talk about calories A LOT. I'm asked from 80 % of my clients, "how many calories should I be eating?" Honestly, it's a difficult question to answer. Yes, Calories are the energy for the body. The body is thought to run off calories. I believe a bit differently. It's not the calories per say that the body runs off of, it's the nutrients that make up the calories. The body really needs the amino acids, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, fibers and other compounds and nutrients that make up the calories. The body will react and run differently off a 500 calories milkshake vs a 500 calories meal made of chicken, asparagus, olive oil, herbs and spices, sweet potato and tea. The body needs nutrients. When your stressed, mentally or physically it needs more energy.
Energy is the definition of calories inside the body. During this time the body does ask for the "quick and easy" energy that comes from sugars and carbs. What is going to really keep the body healthy during that time of stress are the nutrient dense foods that not only supply the body with what it needs to heal but also stabilizes the blood sugar to be able to keep the body out of an inflamed state and healthy while handling life stressors. It is important to have enough calories going into the body at all times to keep it functioning optimally. The body will only be optimal if those calories are made up of dense nutrients.
The mindset of "calories in, calories out" can be a defeating concept to the body. When calories are decreased to under 1000 and exercise (stress to the body) is increased for majority of young people - yep they can lose weight quickly. Sometimes it ends up being a lot of muscle. One can eat over 1000 calories in dense foods spaced through the day and have even better results, feel better and keep muscle. This approach works best and is needed for people over 30 I've come to learn - it's for all the clients that have said "I use to just tighten up what I eat and go to the gym and it came off easy", or "my metabolism has just changes I'm watching what I eat and the scale doesn't move". Calories even though made up of nutrients in food are not the right concept to wrap your mind around when concerned with your health.
This post is not just for people who are trying to lose weight!! Any stress that the body is going through, always mentally stressed, Candida, Hashimoto's, arthritis, etc.... it's about the nutrient and honestly these stressed states require a higher calorie count because it's the nutrients in the calories that are needed for the constant repair, detoxing, and functioning the body needs. Whether you are looking to lose weight, recover from cancer, gain weight, or build muscle the quickest and healthiest way is to focus on what nutrients the body needs, making sure you're getting enough so your body feels supported and stabilize blood sugar. Whenever you think calories immediately think nutrients that make up those calories!