How many Calories does your Body need?: The Macro Nutrient Breakdown
The Million Dollar Question
Obesity is a very serious problem in today's world, it's not a secret. When you're trying to resolve any problem, a good rule of thumb is to start with the root cause of the issue. In this case, there can be several. Obesity can be caused by many things, but the two main precursors of this epidemic are underlying health conditions/diseases and quite simply, bad eating habits/inactivity. When people decide they want to regain their youthful weight/fitness body back, many think that hitting the gym several times a week is a chore within itself that's the really difficult portion of being fit/healthy. Contrary to many of these peoples beliefs, this is actually the easy part. Controlling what goes on your plate, what goes in your mouth, and what are the actual ingredients of the food your eating, twenty four hours a day is the hardest part. There are so many "lose weight quick" diets/schemes out there promising unrealistic weight loss results in really short periods of time, don't get caught up in these ridiculous marketing ploys. Diets are temporary, the only thing a diet changes is the number on the scale. Once your eating habits return to normal, more often than not the weight will return as well. The first thing you need to do is learn your body and understand what your body needs in order to function properly and efficiently. A calorie is never just a calorie. If you were to consume 500 calories of carbohydrates one day and 500 calories of protein the next, even though you have consumed the same number of calories on each day, they will have dissimilar effects on your body because your body will process them in different manners. Learning your body's required macro nutrient break down is the starting stage for the fight on weight loss.
Always Read the Nutrition Labels
The Root Cause
In order to resolve any problem you must first know the root cause of the problem. On the subject of Obesity, there are many people that know how and could easily correct the problem but simply choose not too and that's their prerogative. If you are happy with yourself and content with being overweight/obese, that's your God given right. However, if you are unhappy with your current state, then do something about it, change it. Then there are those individuals that really do not have control of their particular situations because of underlying health conditions where excessive weight gain/obesity is a side effect and last but not least, there are those that just don't have the know how to correct problem. There are several things you must understand when trying to lose weight, the most important thing being that everyone is different. You can not base your daily caloric intake/macro breakdown on someone else's diet/eating habits or from a magazine article you read. While portion eating and calorie counting may easily work for some people, this doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you in the same manner. There are many other variable factors that will come into play. There is no such thing as one size fits all in the fitness/weight loss world. Not eating enough calories can be just as bad/hurtful if not worse as eating too many. Another imperative fact you need to understand is that your body requires a specific number of calories/macros daily in order to function properly and most effectively. Your age, gender and activity levels will cause this number to continuously fluctuate.
Breaking down the Macros
When you begin the process of breaking down your macros, the downfall of many people is trying to completely cut out a particular macro, normally it's either fats and carbs. Attempting to cut out any of the macro-nutrients altogether is dangerous, unhealthy and never a good idea. So you understand why, for starters, all of your major bodily organs including your brain require good fats to function appropriately and efficiently. Obviously removing fats from your eating habits is not feasible. Carbohydrates provide the body with all the necessary energy to preform all of the daily/day to day tasks (work, workouts, parenting etc). Although carbs are the macro that is manipulated the most when trying to lose weight, eliminating them substantially would leave you constantly fatigued and lethargic. Don't be afraid of eating carbs, just focus on eating good low glycemic ones. Do I really need to stress the body's need for proteins? It simply can not repair, rebuild and grow itself without them. This is why you can't just follow any diet plan, you have to understand your body and the processes of the body. There's a science behind it and accuracy is essential. You have to incorporate any and all calories that go into your mouth, this includes gum, candy or even alcoholic beverages. You also have to integrate calories burned during workouts/activities into your daily caloric intake, ensuring the body is still assimilating it's required amount of calories, regardless of how much your working out.
What is Flexible Dieting?
You may have heard the term flexible dieting frequently lately, as this is quickly becoming extremely popular eating plan. You have been taught since you were a kid, that some foods are good for you, some are bad and your health could be determined by which you chose to eat. Flexible eating (also known by if it fits your macros) is basically tracking your macros (proteins, carbs and fats) to obtain a desired body composition goal. Instead of the typical calorie counting, you just track macros. For example, if your meal plan requires 2000 calories, that would equate to 150 grams of protein (4 x 150 = 600), 170 grams of carbs (4 x 170 = 680), and 80 grams of fat ( 9 x 80 = 720). These numbers obviously would be based on each individual and their own factors. Flexible dieting is based on the belief that there are no good or bad foods, just macro ratios. I've seen some people who flexible dieting worked wonders for and I've also seen the other side where it didn't work so well. Since everyone is different there will be those that this plan will be good for and then there are those that simply have to eat much cleaner to obtain their desired goal. That's just a part of life, everyone is different. The only way to determine whether this type of eating can work for you, is to try it. If your one of those that easily retain a lot of fat and have a hard time getting rid of it, I would lean more towards not trying flexible dieting.
Timing is Everything
Learn Your Body
I can not stress enough that knowing your body and what it needs from day to day will make your weight loss journey that much easier. Initially you will more than likely need the assistance of a personal trainer/fitness professional to learn and comprehend your body/it's processes. If your trainer/fitness professional is not teaching/controlling every aspect of your eating habits/caloric intake/macro breakdown/exercise program, you need a new trainer. In time you will/can learn these things and control them yourself. After all, it is your body, no one should know it better than you. After learning your specific caloric intake number (this number will continue to vary with weight loss, changes in activity level etc), the macro breakdown (dependent upon the individual and their fitness goal) and timing become more significant. Your body can not tell time, it's up to you to give it what it requires, when it's required. Some people are under the impression they should not eat after a certain time, ironically this is when what you eat takes precedence over what time you eat. Knowing when your body will assimilate more protein or requires more energy/carbs is imperative. Accuracy and timing are vital when it comes to weight loss. Once you learn your calories/macro breakdown numbers and good, consistent workout regime, you will see the pounds start to fall off.
Other helpful Fitness related Links
- Changing your Body Composition
Wanting to lose weight is a common thing these days, some people only want to lose in certain areas, this actually is changing the composition of your body.
- How much Protein should you take on a Daily Basis?
This is a question often asked and you have probably heard 200 different answers. This article explores protein and how much the body actually needs.