Previously, we talked about your Basal Metabolic Rate, caloric need, and tools to track those delicious calories. Now, what is a calorie? What makes up calories? How do we use calories?
Calories are a form of energy derived from the foods or food-like substances we consume. This energy is what fuels our day-to-day functions as well as our workouts. Our foods are composed of macro (big) nutrients as well as micro (small) nutrients. Many people focus on tracking calories based on macronutrients. There are four major types of macronutirients: Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol.
Each macronutrient provides a different amount of energy. (It may help you to think of it like currency…) 1 gram of protein provides 4 calories. 1 gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories, and 1 gram of alcohol provides 7 calories.
Using an electronic tracker such as My Macros will show you a breakdown of the food you ingest into your percentage of macros. Using your new found knowledge of macros and calories, you can adjust your food choices based on your goals. Just interested in losing weight? It’s simple. Calories in, calories out. Want to lose fat and be leaner? Decrease your fat intake. Want to build some muscle tone, shift your calorie allowance more toward choices higher in protein. Cutting any one specific macro (aside from alcohol) IS NOT HEALTHY on a long-term basis. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the enemy. Carbohydrates are brain power. Appropriate fats help to lubricate your joints and regulate your hormones. Proteins will help you build lean muscle which will ultimately rev up your metabolism.
What do we do with this?!
Ok, here’s what I do. Take what you will…
- Figure out your BMR and caloric NEED. (Mine is 1,418 calories/day)
- Set a goal. (I want to lose 10 pounds but still have energy to hammer out some pretty gnarly workouts. By the way, many super smart people say .5-1 pound weight loss/week is safe and reasonable, so I would like to lose 10 pounds by Wednesday, February 15, 2017.)
- Work a plan. So, 1 pound is 3500 calories. Therefore, I would need to decrease my weekly caloric intake by 3500 calories which would mean my daily intake would be 918 calories. What?!?! That’s crazy town. Remember, this is just to exist, not to workout. Therefore, I would need to be sure to increase my calories for my gnarly workouts. So, let’s say I planned on running 6 miles. I know I typically burn about 100 calories/mile. I need an extra 500-600 calories to help fuel that workout and still be on track for my weight loss plan.
This journey is not an easy one, but you’re not in it alone!
Set a goal. You’re worth it.