“My Nutrition is grand, I eat healthy enough like.”

So I’m going to address the first Big Elephant in the room straight from the get-go. This is where everyone falls down – they think that eating healthy or eating ‘clean’ is all they need to do to drop the bodyfat levels and tone up. And to immediately burst your bubble, it’s not.

And by ‘tone up’ I mean the following;

  • Dropping Bodyfat
  • Tightening Up
  • Toning Up
  • Losing Fat
  • Lose the belly
  • Lose Fat/Build Muscle

See, it DOES NOT matter how ‘healthy’ you eat, because at the end of the day if you’re consuming more calories that you expand (burn off) you’ll either: lose weight, stay the same, or gain it. That’s science & Nutrition 101.

So hopefully after this Blog Series you’ll be able to leave it with knowing the Principles behind;

  • Hierachy of Nutritional Principles 101 ~ Part 1
  • How to lose Bodyfat
  • Knowing how to ‘nail the basics’ to get results
  • Knowing what Protein, Carbs & Fats are and why you should know them
  • Having a template/guideline to start using today with your daily food


At Doc Fitness in Galway we want EVERYONE that walks through our doors to leave with Fundamental Principles rather than a ‘here, eat this food plan and you’ll be grand’ approach – the same goes for my Online Coaching too. Yes, you probably will get results after following a ‘food plan’, but what good is that? What will you learn for life doing that?

Principles over Methods – always. Because once we know the Principles, the how’s become a lot easier.

So if you’re serious about life-long principles and life-changing results this Blog Series will hopefully get you started.

So this is Your Starting Point ~  The Most Important Factors ‘of a Diet’;

The single most important aspect is Calorie Balance – but yet it’s the single aspect that most people miss time and time again. As you go up the Pyramid, the importance comes down, but still play a big role. 

Think of it like this, Calorie Balance is your House Foundation. And if you take a Guy in his 20’s for example and he starts looking into ‘BCAA’ supplements, he’s essentially looking to add paint to his house when the foundation isn’t even laid yet! 

Calorie Balance is a measure of Calories taken in (Food) and Calories expanded at any given time, but more so occurs over the period of a week. (1,2)

Or in English you must ‘burn more calories’ than you consume in order to lose weight: Calories In Vs. Calories Out. Below is an easy to follow Image on what I mean;

Hence why, this is exactly why every Diet DOES work. Diets simply manipulate Calorie Balance, usually that are highly unrealistic to sustain, make you drop a tonne of weight, along with your dignity too. Before rebounding a few weeks or months later.

So to recap;

  • Calorie Balance is the Most Important Factor when it comes to Losing Weight (We’ll talk about the ratio of Muscle & Fat further in this series)
  • Eat Fewer Calories than you burn off daily and you’ll LOSE weight. 
  • Eat MORE Calories than you burn off daily and you’ll GAIN weight.
  • Consume roughly the same Calorie intake and you’ll roughly stay the same weight. 

I didn’t event the above Pyramid Either – this is just the one we use with our Members to get our points across easily. I was first introduced to the Pyramid by Eric Helms (3, Red Pyramid), followed by Mike Israetals too (2), so hat’s off gentlemen for introducing me to such easy to understand formats 🙂










It’s a unit of heat content or Energy. Anything that contains Energy has calories, but that doesn’t’ mean you go off eating bags of coal 🙂

A Calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C.

You don’t really need to get in detail with this, but the way foods are presented on labels as k/cal, is to measure the energy value of foods. Got that? Ok, let’s move on.


So when you know the above, you’ll know that the Calories in food tells you how much potential energy they posses. So following that you’ve the 3 Main ‘Macronutrients’:

  • Protein: 1 Gram = 4 Calories
  • Carbohydrates: 1 Gram = 4 Calories
  • Fat: 1 Gram = 9 Calories

So when you see the ‘total calories’ in certain foods, it’s the sum of the calories provided by the macronutrients.

I.E: Take a sweet potato for example;

Per 100grams = 86k/cal

  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Carbs: 20g
  • Fats: 0.1g

Then there’s Alcohol;

  • Alcohol: 1 Gram = 7 Calories

Again I won’t get into more detail here as that will be saved later in this series – for now, it’s just understanding the fundamentals with calorie balance. 


The fancy term here is Energy Expenditure and it’s made up of the following:

So daily energy you ‘expand’ or ‘burn’ is broken into:

  • BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) = the number of calories you burn to maintain basic life functions at rest, such as breathing, heart rate etc.
  • TEF (Thermic effect of feeding) = the number of calories burned while digesting food.
  • Physical Activity (Exercise + Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)) = the number of calories you burn due to physical activity, PLUS ANY type of physical activity, including fidgeting, maintenance of posture, walking up the stairs, to your car etc. which is the NEAT side of it all. NEAT makes up a LARGE part of the equation which people usually disregard.

Below then, you can see the breakdowns of an active vs. sedentary person (4)

(Image Courtesy of weightology.net)

Now lastly – which is a whole other blog in itself – when losing weight over time, Energy Expenditure will down regulate making it harder to lose weight so don’t think the above is set in stone. (5)

So when you go over all that, those that are not losing weight right now are:



There’s always a big debate about the ‘Calories in Vs. Calories out’ thing these days – usually coming from people that preach that it’s all about hormones. And while Physiology will play a role in:

  • Hunger Patterns & Satiety Signals (How full you feel)
  • Overall Energy Intake
  • Nutrient Absorption

Calorie Balance, will still be the main player at the end of the day. Which essentially means – some people will put on weight easily due to physiological, psychological & environmental factors at play but it doesn’t mean they cannot lose weight. It just means, some will find it a lot harder than others to shift the weight or gain it. (6)


So… Calories provide Fuel for your body to function wether it’s from Protein, Carbohydrates or Fat. Every day you expend a certain amount of Energy based off your Metabolic Rate, the Thermic Affect of Food, Non-Exercise Activity & Exercise Activity (Thermogenesis) which basically Means your Total Daily Energy Expenditure..

So as a Starting Point: A Calorie is always a Calorie, a Chocolate Cake is Chocolate Cake as Broccoli Is Broccoli – they’re STILL Calories – BUT they’re not created ‘equal’ due to their Macronutrient & Micronutrient (Vitamins & Minerals) profiles.

So obviosuly these will act differently on the body,

Now without getting into the details of the nutrients etc. in each, Instead – Take a look at the image below and tell me you wouldn’t feel full after that plate of broccoli?

I’m not saying you should eat Broccoli 24/7 but rather stating the obvious in foods, their ‘fullness’ factor and the ‘desire’ to consume MORE afterwards. Below are foods ALL with 200 Calories;

(Image courtesy of organics.org)

Now picture how hard it would be to STOP eating more Smarties (or even the Nuts) after that small handful compared to the Broccoli which you’d STRUGGLE to eat!

Nutritional Coaching IS NOT just about ‘what to eat’ – 99% of the population forget about the PSYCHOLOGY that comes along with food too. Anyhow I’m going off point for the purpose of this blog, Psychology of eating is for a different blog, but I just wanted to address that not always calories are created equal.

I.E: Proper Real Food/Macronutrient Breakdown gives us the Nutrients etc. we need to function properly Daily and will have a profound effect on the way we perform, feel & look.

Processed Stuff without a regard for Macronutrient Breakdown simply won’t.


Calorie Balance will determine:

  • If you lose weight.
  • Maintain it and stay the same.
  • Gain Weight.

I could have just said that at the start couldn’t I? 

Joking aside, I want you to see the bigger picture here and always back up what I say with science, first hand experience and from years of coaching real life people too. Part 2 will dive into the next deeper level, how to Create a Calorie Deficit and lose bodyfat. Stay Tuned…

PART 2: http://docfitnessonline.com/nutrition-101-toning-up-fat-loss-part-2/



1: Gropper, S,S. & Smith J, L. (2012) ‘Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism Sixth Edition’, Cengage Learning: https://books.google.ie/books?id=3R0Yeu79jfQC&redir_esc=y

2: Israetal, M. ‘The Renaissance Diet, A Scientific Approach to Getting Leaner and Building Muscle’http://store.jtsstrength.com/products/the-renaissance-diet

3: Helms, E. Valdez, A. & Morgan, A. (2016) ‘The Muscle and Strength Pyramid, Nutrition.’ http://muscleandstrengthpyramids.com/

4: Krieger, J. Weightology.net (2015) http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/index.php/free-content/free-content/volume-1-issue-9-why-is-it-so-easy-to-regain-weight/why-is-it-so-easy-to-regain-weight/

5: Trembley et al. (2012) ‘Adaptive thermogenesis can make a difference in the ability of obese individuals to lose body weight’, International journal of obesity (2005). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230588487_Adaptive_thermogenesis_can_make_a_difference_in_the_ability_of_obese_individuals_to_lose_body_weight

6: Llewellyn, C & Wardle, J. (2015) ‘Behavioral susceptibility to obesity: Gene-environment interplay in the development of weight.’, Physiol Behav. 2015 Dec 1;152(Pt B):494-501. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26166156

PART 2: http://docfitnessonline.com/nutrition-101-toning-up-fat-loss-part-2/