The golden rule of weight loss: ‘If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories.”
Well if that were the case, then I suppose I wouldn’t be writing this blog…but I am.
The topic of a calorie not just being a calorie could turn into a 15-page paper, but I’m going to try to keep it short, sweet, and to the point. The reason that calorie-restriction diets work short term is that they follow the basic rule of “eating less food causes you to lose weight.” This is a true statement. If you eat, on average, roughly 500 calories less per day, or burn 500 extra calories per day through exercise, or a combination of the two, you will likely lose around a pound of body mass per week.
Here’s where it starts to get tricky though. I just said body mass, not fat mass. Many people stop here. They see the scale moving down, they’re happy, but then it stops moving down. We’re stuck now. The scale is a few pounds lighter, but you don’t notice much change in how you look. And you already feel like you’re eating so little at this point (calorie deficit), that you aren’t sure how to possibly ever eat less to keep losing weight. So what do we do now?!
MACRONUTRIENTS – What are they and why does everyone keep talking about them?
Our body reacts differently to different types of food. Here is the high-level, basic break-down of the ‘different types of foods,' aka our macronutrients:
1. Protein - I put this one first because it is the most important, and the most abundant nutrient in the body, other than water.Protein replaces old cells, builds muscles, organs, blood, nails, hair, skin and tissues.
You want to look “lean”? Eat protein.
2. Carbohydrate – Carbohydrates are second most important because they are our bodies preferred source of energy/fuel for our daily functions and workouts.The brain and nervous system run directly off of glucose (aka carbohydrates).
They also offer a thermogenic effect that will increase calorie burning more so than a high-fat diet.
3. Fat – Fats, aka lipids, are a misunderstood nutrient. They carry over twice as many calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins, but it's for a good reason.
Fat surrounds and protects vital organs, regulates hormones, balances body temperatures, and keeps you full longer!
However, the majority of your calories should not come from fats. Somewhere around 20-30% is adequate.
Okay….so how are they going to help me look great and maybe lose some weight?
Think about it like this, calories help you lose weight, but dialing in your macro-nutrient ratio will help you lose the right weight (aka fat). Would you rather weigh 145 pounds and look skinny fat with no muscle tone, or weight 151 pounds and look lean and muscular?
Eating the right proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can help you finally reach your weight loss/physique/fitness goals. How do you know how much to eat? Here is a great starting point: https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator
We are aware of how much to eat now, but how do we know what types of foods to eat to fill those proteins, carbohydrates, and fat columns?
Enter Micronutrients (aka vitamins and minerals).
If you were able to make McDonald’s, candy, and soda fit your macros (unlikely), you’d probably still lose some weight and see some halfway decent results. Although you wouldn’t be very ‘healthy.' Without including whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and animal proteins in your diet, you can end up with some serious nutrient deficiencies.
Nutrient deficiencies can lead to heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, thyroid issues, vision problems, congenital disabilities, and certain cancers. If that doesn’t make you want to introduce the produce section into your shopping list, I don’t know what will!
So do we still think a calorie is just a calorie? I hope not. If you want to feel better, look better, and reach your physique goals here are some main tips to take away:
1. Try making around 80% or more of your diet consist of whole, unprocessed foods (i.e. animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains).
2. Enter your information into the handy-dandy healthy eating calculator and see how much food you should be eating here:
3. Take ONE day to enter what you eat into an app like Myfitnesspal or another calorie counter. See where you are starting, so you can know how far you need to go to get to where the calculator suggests.
4. Don’t give up. Results don’t happen overnight. They take consistency, trouble-shooting, and hard work.
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