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More than kcals - Looking beyond the numbers for weight loss

One of the core components of the Box Framework is knowing your 'numbers', or understanding your kcals and macronutrients.

This is because energy balance (kcals expended compared to kcals consumed) underpins how much you should be eating whatever you goal, whether it's sporting a 6 pack or performing at your best in your chosen post.

Tracking your kcals and macros gives now you a better understanding about the foods you are eating and their values relative how much you need, giving you MORE flexibility with your diet moving forward.

It sounds fairly counterintuitive but tracking can actually help you stop tracking!

But it's not just the numbers you need to consider.

By focusing on the type of food you're eating rather just the quantity will bring about far better changes.

That's not to say disregard the importance of your numbers, as you can still easily eat your way into obesity by eating on 'clean' and 'healthy' foods.

But sensible choices make the process of discovering your abs a whole lot easier, not to mention its effects on health, energy levels, sleep, performance, gut health and lean mass.

How's that?

1. Volume of food - Think about the volume of the food as well as the kcal content - Google what does a 100kcals look like and you’ll see how it can be easier to over consume certain foods

2. Fibre - Fibre slows down digestion and helps with satiety. It also keeps the gut healthy improving your ability to digest and absorb food properly. Not to mention the health benefits (Threapleton et al., 2013).

3. Satiety - Foods higher in protein and fibre will keep you fuller for longer acting as an automatic kcal control method (Finlayson et al., 2015).

4. Thermic effect - The body uses kcals to digest and absorb food, which is called the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF). Protein has a higher TEF compared to fat and carbohydrates meaning more kcals will be used when consuming this macronutrient (Westerterp-Plantenga, 2000). Although it's not going to make a huge difference, these small pieces of the dietary jigsaw will eventually add up.

5. Performance – Although kcals should be your primary concern, nutrient density will make you ‘function’ better. And if you function better, you perform better! Check out 'What micronutrients matter' for a few that you need to be aware of.

A healthy athlete is a better athlete after all!

There's more:-

  • Health implications of some processed foods (NOT all processed foods are but added sugar, salt and trans fats are worth being aware of).

  • Ability to exercise - energy, fuel, concentration

  • Ability to get the results from exercising (build muscle)

  • Ability to recover from exercise

  • Gut health

The list goes on, which are the reasons why I favour type of food over solely the amount.


You need to look at both perspectives when training or looking at body composition.

On one hand being mindful of how much you're eating and ensuring you're in an energy deficit if weight loss is your goal, or a surplus if gaining weight is your goal (either kcal counting, portion control or mindful eating).

And on the other you need to consider the type of food (nutrient density) to make losing weight easier, to get your body functioning properly and to be healthy.

Do this and results will follow.

Are you in need of some more help with your nutrition? Then check out for more help

Further Reading

Finlayson, G., Gibbons, C., Caudwell, P., Hopkins, M. and Blundell, J. (2015). Differential effect of fat and carbohydrate composition meals on food hedonics, satiation and satiety. Appetite, 91, p.439.

Threapleton, D., Greenwood, D., Evans, C., Cleghorn, C., Nykjaer, C., Woodhead, C., Cade, J., Gale, C. and Burley, V. (2013). Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 347(dec19 2), pp.f6879-f6879.

Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2000). Satiety and 24h diet-induced thermogenesis as related to macronutrient composition. Näringsforskning, 44(1), pp.104-107.

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