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Understanding the Basics of Food, the Body, and Weight Loss

By Dr. Molly Casey

The Basics of Food

It’s the new year and you want to get, be, and stay healthier than ever before. You want to drop weight. You’ve made a weight loss resolution year after year and, though maybe you’ve made some progress forward, you feel like you have never really gotten where you wanted. Sustainable change takes work, often much more than most realize.

First, you must understand the current situation with food and your weight and health. Second, you must get clear on what role food plays in your life. Then you must understand the science of the body and food..

Food as Energy

At its most basic level the body is a machine. The machine needs fuel to run. Also at the most basic level food is fuel. If you saturate the machine with fuel it will save some for later, which is to store it as fat.

In layman’s terms and with regard to food, a calorie is a unit of measurement assessing the amount of energy a certain food or drink provides to the body when ingested. It is true that to decrease weight, your output -- amount of energy expended -- must be greater than your intake. Do not let anyone tell you calories don’t matter, they do. You can’t become debt-free when you continue to charge more on your credit card than you are paying off monthly. It doesn’t work that way. You must eat less than your body requires to function in order to drop weight by forcing your body to use its reserves (fat storage). That’s not the end of the equation though.

Food Broken Down

Food gets broken down into different components that the body then uses for energy. Macronutrients are the largest elements of food that nourish the body; they provide energy to allow proper functioning as well as maintenance of body structure and systems. Macronutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They are needed in amounts larger than any other nutrient for optimal functioning. Each macronutrient supports different functions of the body.

Proteins are broken down into amino acids and used to build muscle; they also work inside the cells and support the structure and function of the body’s tissues and organs. There are 4 calories per 1 gram of protein.

Fats are broken down into fatty acids and used in cell linings, and are required for hormone synthesis. There are 7calories per 1gram of fat.

Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and used for energy within the cells of the body. There are 3 calories per 1 gram of carbohydrate.

One can manipulate the intake of each macronutrient dependent upon their goals. Different diets take different approaches. Some are high protein, mid-level fat intake, and low carbohydrate. Others are moderate protein, low fat, and moderate carbohydrate. Still others are moderate protein, high fat, and low carbohydrate. No one way is right or wrong. All approaches work -- for the right person at the right time. The ratio of macronutrient intake can play an important and pivotal role in burning fat, decreasing weight, and maintaining the results.


The quality of the food you eat matters. Although 1 calorie of a candy bar is the equivalent to 1 calorie of broccoli in actual measurement, the value of the candy bar is far less in terms of other nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Thus, while calorically the same, the broccoli provides the body other levels of support and nourishment to promote optimal functioning, therefore it’s more valuable to the overall health and wellness of the body and far more likely to help you achieve your goals of fat loss and weight loss. In addition, organic and non-GMO don’t carry the additional chemicals and artificial sweeteners that work against the function and health of your body and often promote other diseases.

Science matters in the journey of health and wellness, and the path of burning fat and decreasing body weight. Overlooking science and not understanding the basics are a very common reason that attempts to change one’s relationship with health and body weight aren’t achieved and/or don’t last.

Chiropractors study biochemistry, physiology and nutrition while in school. Along with seeing your chiropractor for improving your overall health and wellness by getting regular chiropractic adjustments, your chiropractor can be a wealth of knowledge on nutrition, the basics of science and your body, as well as approaching the journey of optimal body weight.

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