The Third Dimension of Calorie Counting

by Dr. David Minkoff February 28, 2023 4 min read

The Third Dimension of Calorie Counting

Ask anyone about bulking and cutting and they’ll bring up calories and macronutrients.

Calories are basically a measurement of how much potential energy is in a food.

Potential because some of it will actually be used as energy and some will not.

This can be energy which is “burned” right now for physical activity (sugars or fats) or energy stored for later use (body fat and glycogen (stored sugars)).

And Macronutrients are the foods needed in large amounts for your body to operate: Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates. And each one of these has a different calorie potential.

So we decide how many calories we need to eat, and what percentage of calories should come from each macro group, and then we math it around until we know exactly how much of what to eat each day.

Now, there’s a lot of talk on these subjects of macros and calorie counting.

Some people say counting calories is the only thing that works, that if you want to gain weight you need to consume more calories than your body uses for energy and to lose weight you need to consume less calories than your body uses for energy so it will tap into fat stores to use as energy instead.

Others say calories have nothing to do with it at all.

Then some people say it’s the ratio of the three macronutrients that’s important, with different experts stating different ratios, some quite far apart.

But what is it? Does calorie counting work or not? And which ratio of proteins, fats, and carbs is best?

The truth is, there isn’t an absolute yes or no to the above question, or even an exact optimum percentage of those three macronutrients.

Not because it doesn’t work — it does.

But because just dividing it between proteins, fats, and carbs is too general.

Way too general.

It’s two dimensional. We need to enter the third dimension on this. Or fourth or fifth.

Yes, we need to measure the amount of calories to make sure we get enough energy and not too much. And we need to make sure we get enough protein, fat and carbohydrates so we can build muscle or have energy to power us through the day.

But… which proteins, fats, and carbs? And how do they affect the hormones that will determine how they’re used?

We can say that carbs raise insulin levels. And that too many carbs, plus insulin, raises fat storage.


But which ones?

Are we eating a couple of apples or drinking a Coke? Each have the same amounts of carbs and yet each will produce a very different reaction in the body, both hormonally and in how they’re utilized.

A Coke will spike insulin almost immediately and goes in too fast for most bodies to even use as energy, almost wholly triggering fat creation.

It will also raise cortisol levels, another hormone that increases fat and breaks down muscle.

But a couple of apples will hit much more slowly, raising insulin levels slowly, but also producing less insulin overall.

They’re also good for lowering cortisol levels.

And, the body will use them for energy when you consume them, with a lower likelihood of them being converted to fat.

See the difference?

Being too general leads to differing results and, so, differing conclusions. We need to get more specific. Not in a way that’s utterly complex and no one could ever follow. But in a way that can be followed, yet is effective.

We run into the same situations with proteins and fats. Some fats help us lose body fat and balance our hormones, while others cause us to gain body fat.

Some proteins are well utilized as protein, and others are poorly utilized, mostly being converted to calories.

We can say that proteins are 4 calories per gram. But that’s not how the body uses them.

Whole eggs are 48% used to build new protein in the body and only 52% converted to calories.

But whey is 18% utilized to build new protein and 82% converted to calories.

So we can't just say we had 30g of protein.

No, 30g of which protein?

Does that make sense? Do you see why we can’t just divide it into carbs, fats, and proteins and call it a day?

It’s not just a matter of how much of each to consume, but which type of each.

In the Lean Bulk Guide we break all of this down. Not so much that you get completely lost, but enough so you get a real understanding of how this works, and can apply it to yourself.

And don’t worry, we’ll bring it back down to a usable simplicity by the end.

But we can only do that if you understand each part.

Look out for the Lean Bulk Guide, releasing soon, and the 30-day Lean Bulk Challenge!

We're going to have so much fun!

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.