When eating to achieve any goals there are some basic rules to follow, these are not as myriad or complex as many forms of popular media would have you believe.
You also do not need to have supplements, though they can accelerate you to your goals. Though I do not really cover supplements in this article I will in the future.
The first thing to look at is your calorie intake. These little blighters will if you eat too many put fat onto your body, eat too few and you face two problems; the first is not having enough energy for your workout and the second is that your body will not heal correctly without the resources.
So what is a calorie, it is simply put a unit of measurement. 1 calorie is the energy it takes to raise 1ml of water by 1 degree.
We need these calories to provide energy to the body and they come from three sources Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein.
Contrary to popular media/belief there is no such thing as bad calorie (except maybe those from TRANS –fat and processed Sugar of which I will cover in future articles). Each source of calories has a different calorie value.
1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
1 gram of Carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
Another one to be aware of when out on a Friday night is Alcohol – a source of what is known as empty calorie, which is a calorie without any nutritional value to the body. 1 gram of Alcohol carries 7 calories.
Understanding Calories in a different way to lose 5 pounds (2.3kg) of weight in 30 days we would need to lower our intake by around 200 calories.
Now notice that I said weight and not fat, the body will be indiscriminate about where it pulls the weight from so this could be from fat or muscle the second of which is undesirable.
If the average male is taking in around 2500 calories a day to maintain his correct weight an adjustment of plus 200 calories will give him a weight gain of around 2.3 kilos as well. Dependent on activity level and type it will either mean a fat gain or muscle gain.
The composition of your diet has a big effect on the type of weight you gain or lose. More fat will mean you do not get the lean muscled look that most are looking for.
To many carbs and you will have the same effect. Too much protein will lead to the bodies inability to break down energy correctly and many will suffer headaches, skin problems, potential liver issues, etc…
I have found through research and trial and error the best effects are from a calorie break down of 50% Carbohydrate, 30% Protein and 20% Fats. For the 2500 calorie intake it would mean
Carbohydrates 50% – which is 2500*0.5 = 1250 calories or 1250/4 = 313 grams
Protein 30% – which is 2500*0.3 = 750 calories or 750/4 = 188 grams
Fats 20% – which is 2500*0.2 = 500 calories or 500/9 = 56 grams
A few rules to follow with this breakdown and that is – remember to vary the sources of your proteins. Avoid Trans fats (especially margarines) and too much meat.
Avoid foods with high levels of sugar. Also realise that your calorie count is actually added up to a weekly amount so don’t worry if you slightly overeat or under eat on a day balance it out over the week.
The idea is that if you have a calorie goal of say 2200 calories a day that gives you a weekly allowance of 15400 calories.
So if you overeat by 100 calories on Wednesday and under eat by 100 on Saturday you have in essence balanced it out.
Remember to keep your body hydrated with water – this is anywhere between 1.5 litres and 3 litres a day dependent on need and level of activity.
This I am afraid does not balance out through the week! Water is very important as it flushes any toxins out of the system and helps keep blood renewed as well as aiding in hormone balance and oxygen supply to muscles. Remember we are largely sacks of water!
In essence that covers what we call Macro Nutrients, namely Water, Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein. If we make small changes over weeks to how we view and use these we will create a sustainable lifestyle change that will take care of us and give us the optimum performance from our bodies.
Remember you would not fuel a supercar with substandard fuel, and your body is a supercar it lasts potentially over a hundred years.
Remember this is a very general guide and you should speak to a properly qualified nutritional advisor or to help you based on your specific needs.