Is it as simple as calories in vs calories out?

Everywhere we look now there seems to be an individual who claims that calories in versus calories out is all that matter, it’s all that counts when heading off to go and smash that new goal you’ve ascertained.


The truth is that if you purely want to lose weight then yes reducing the energy (calories) coming in or increasing the energy (calories) going out is the only matter at hand in the short term.


This can sometimes get lost in and amongst the rest of the shit we have in our everyday lives and let’s be honest it’s all well and good saying “create a calorie deficit” but how about we put this into more applicable terms….. but not just yet give me two minutes.


So here we go we’re ready to nail it because now we’ve started to plan for a calorie deficit, we have no idea of our BMR, thyroid output, cell health, inflammation status, adrenal function and the list quite literally goes on until we talk about things I can’t even spell.


It’s a haven for confusion so yes people telling you to simply “eat less and move more” is something that they can understand and it’s a very blanket like distribution of advice.


Now I’m not going to piss everyone off and start asking for you to visit a lab and have yourself put under a microscope.


What matters is that you’re healthy so you live longer, you improve the quality of your life, you’re actually happy and you understand how to manage all this in an applicable way.


  1. “Move more” but enjoy it, don’t just walk or use the stepper for an hour each night because skinny bitch over the road does. If it bores you then don’t do it ENJOY yourself.


  1. Drink more water – so obvious but I mean a LOT more water often when I ask people to drink more they come back and say “I’m drinking two litres” I mean more than what the standard government advice says. Be ambitious aim for 4 litres and gradually increase to this so you keep pissing yourself every night.


  1. Eat plenty of protein 1.6-1.8g per KG of bodyweight. Protein is responsible for the regeneration of cells, notice how I didn’t say muscle? I mean all cells, including skin, hair and nails, so yes eat plenty of protein and your skin, nail and hair quality will improve along with your muscles. Consuming plenty of protein also means that whilst you’re in a calorie deficit you will retain all your muscle meaning you look leaner and toned a hell of a lot more so than if you were only counting calories without considering protein.



  1. Don’t drink calories unless you genuinely want it. Not a hard one to comprehend, you find 3 eggs on 1 slice of toast filling in the morning for breakfast (350Kcal) yet you will quite happily go to the drive through Starbucks and get yourself latte (350Kcals). Moral here is don’t drink a shit load of calories unless you really want it, not it’s a habit or because it’s just there.


  1. Give yourself some slack think 80/20. Now this is kind of a rule which some people live by, I wouldn’t say 80/20 or even begin to consider this a thing but I would just say don’t be a dick to yourself. For every one person who goes on a diet overnight consisting of what we deem as “necessary” to look great (chicken, broccoli, rice etc) there are another 1000 who can’t do it. Furthermore, that one person is probably boring as fuck and has absolutely nothing much outside of their new gym life. Be realistic if it’s the weekend then have a couple drinks, enjoy a dessert just don’t be a prick all the other days of the wee and you’ll be just fine. As mentioned in the previous point, only have it if you REALLY want it not just because it’s there.


  1. Do not starve yourself. As we mentioned earlier about cell health, thyroid output etc if you starve yourself then all of the previously mentioned factors will take a hit. Now isn’t that funny how you’ve just created a calorie deficit, so you’ve achieved the one thing everyone keeps waffling on about BUT you will have just negatively impacted a lot of other aspects of your health (and therefore the long-term ability to look lean, stay lean and feel great). Create a slight calorie deficit and the weight will come down and the best part you will be able to stick with it and enjoy yourself along the way. One of the biggest issues I have ever had to deal with as a coach is when people come to me after a trending diet where they are consuming 1000 Kcal or less per day and struggling to lose weight, then I need to tell them to eat more which is counterintuitive but ESSENTIAL needless to say I lose some people there but the ones who stick around soon see that I was right.


  1. This links heavily into the last point, be patient. You didn’t wake up 20kg’s heavier so why would you wake up 20kg’s lighter? Look longer term, if you have got 4 weeks before you hit the Tenerife and you want to lose 10kg then you’ve left it too late. This is no one’s fault but yourself and the truth is you may well lose 2.5kg by starving yourself but the majority of that would be muscle tissue meaning you wouldn’t lose much in the way of fat anyway. After a couple days of wine, sun and tanning you would gain it all back (more fat mass this time rather than muscle) along with a while range of fucked up issues which we mentioned at the start.


To Summarise;


  1. We need to look further afield than simply calories and calories out.
  2. Join a sports club, go to a couple classes. ENJOY your extra activity.
  3. Drink a lot more water.
  4. Consume more protein.
  5. Don’t drink a ton of calories.
  6. Don’t be a prick to yourself, give yourself some social time with your favourite foods.
  7. DO NOT starve yourself!
  8. Be patient.


Enjoy the process, this is your life and it’s up to you take responsibility for it. You’re not alive to obsess over your weight and calorie counting, adopt these rules and your health will improve along with your composition.


Train hard, eat well (most of the time) and enjoy life.

Go smash it!

Leave a Comment


  • Marc Holliday

    Brilliant piece!

    • Sam Cleaver

      Thanks for great comments Marc! If there’s any topics you like me to cover then please do fire away!

  • Tracy

    I like the way you tell at as it is. Sounds so obvious but so many people just don’t get it. Great stuff.

  • Sophie

    This is exactly how it is! Before I started seeing Sam, I was that person always hoping for an overnight miracle without understanding my body and it’s needs. Since taking and continuing to take Sam’s advice, I’m making slow but strong progress, my health markers are improving and I already feel a different person! Whilst it’s still early days for me, I love this approach and there is no doubt it works. Remember Perseverance, determination & patience.
    Great piece Sam 👍🏻

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