Calories and Macros…Do I need to count them?… If so How?
This topic is huge! And can get very complex, in its entirety. So today we are just splitting this into 2 parts, which only really scratches the surface!
There is plenty of debate in the industry surrounding approaches for health, dieting and fat loss.
You may hear the names of different diets and methods such as clean eating, paleo diet, IIFYM (if it fits your macros), flexible dieting, intermittent fasting, carb cycling etc.
Im sure that it all works… BUT the only one that works is the one you can stick to consistently.
Now it can be damn confusing, especially for someone who is looking to start a fitness journey.
So where do you start?
Learn the basics… before you get bogged down with counting calories, proteins, fats and carbs its important you learn what they are…and where you get them from.
Protein is essential for overall health.
Proteins have several roles within the body, for individuals who are training the main functions are to support lean body mass, replace and repair damaged proteins within muscle tissue and in some situations (severe caloric restriction / low carb diets) protein can be broken down for energy. Protein is found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
Fat, like protein, is essential for overall health. These are important for cell function, absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Fat can also be broken down and used for energy. Fats are found in foods like oily fish, eggs, nuts, oils and butter.
Carbohydrates, these have got a bad reputation in recent times. Carbs are the body’s primary fuel source for high intensity exercise. These are found in foods such as oats, rice, pasta, potatoes and fruit.
So how much do we need?
This all depends on the individual, there a plenty of variables that would determine the requirements. Including specific goal, exercise and diet history, lifestyle, current weight, height, age and gender.
Before we get into the numbers its important we understand where we are.
If you are currently eating lots of junk food, kebabs, takeaways, pies and pasties and not doing any exercise then there is little point wasting time working these numbers out just yet.
Although the truth is that calories DO matter and that there is plenty of evidence and studies showing people eating crap food and still loosing weight because they are simply eating less and putting themselves in a calorie deficit, its something that I wouldn’t feel comfortable promoting as I want people to enjoy good food through adjusting their mindset and creating a healthy relationship with food and training.
When sitting down with a client for the first time there is no need to overwhelm and bog them down with too much information. I am yet to sit down with someone at day one to find they are in their current situation as they have accidentally eaten too much sweet potato.
I would look at adjusting several things. We need to hit the reset button and focus on optimising health from the inside out!
So… start with the Water… so many people don’t get enough water aim for roughly 35ml per kg body-weight. This may take a bit of getting used to so build up to it slowly.
For example, if you weigh 75kg that's roughly 2.6 litres per day.
Eat Real Food – try to include a quality animal protein source with every meal (meat, fish, eggs etc) get lots of veggies in and experiment with finding ways to enjoy all these foods.
Limit The Obvious – Diets often fail as people are too restrictive, people try to be 100% strict and live off chicken and broccoli and struggle to stick to it.
I’d rather someone be 90% for the long term, than be 100% for 3 days and the fall off the so called wagon.
However, this said its certainly worth a period of elimination to help your body become a fat burning, muscle building machine!
SO…10-14 days of cutting right back can help, as certain functions in the body can be inhibited or down regulated from years of eating crap and drinking..
The goal for most people is to enjoy a balanced lifestyle including things we enjoy such as chocolate and alcohol etc and not feel guilty about it! BUT to earn this lifestyle there has to be some sort restriction because if people could do the whole moderation thing we wouldn’t get ourselves out of shape in the first place.
SO…Pull out the junk and drink and live off the land for a few weeks and see how much better you feel inside and out!
You can then start to introduce some ‘naughty foods’ every now and then when you learn how to moderate the intake of these foods to find a healthy balance.
Remember consistency is key… don’t eat ‘clean’ for a week and then have a massive binge! This is for you to decide how best to approach it.
Chocolate Biscuits Syndrome….
If you know you can have a small amounts (lets say 10% of your weekly intake) of the foods that can be described as ‘junk’ or ‘naughty’ and be consistent with this then by all means get them in and don’t feel guilty if its going to keep you on track long term.
BUT if you are like me and that small amount is likely to make you want more and more then you need to show a little more restraint. If I have "just one" chocolate biscuit, I WILL eat the whole packet!…So I avoid them and choose something like Greek yoghurt as a snack… but if you are one of those VERY rare people who can eat one and put the packet away as you have satisfied that need then this is cool!
If you are unsure.... Then choose a better option!
By default most people following these simple guidelines will get plenty of protein and fats, and will almost certainly reduce calories and carbohydrate intake. Whats important is that you eat enough, don’t go hungry just make smart choices. Most people know deep down what they need to do.
So you have got to grips with the basics and have shown the ability to eat well, train well and feel healthier and happier with the progress. Do you need more?
Next part we will cover what you need to do, if you feel you can get a little more technical...
We hope this helps.
If you have any questions on the above and would like some further advice, don't hesitate to reach out - firstname.lastname@example.org
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