Calorie Counting and Breaking down Macros
I don’t look at packs and look at calories of anything, so I wouldn’t expect any of you to either! But having an idea of what is our food is a good place to start when you begin to look at the food you are consuming.
If you are wanting a new diet, this isn’t it. This is about healthy eating and getting your head around how much and what you should be eating on a daily basis. It’s a minefield out there and when it comes to calories, it depends on genetics, activity levels, age, height etc. But let’s not make this super super complicated.
I have done a post on Portion Control for you guys to give you an idea of how to look at how much you should be eating on a plate. if you are new to healthy eating and adapting those food habits, then I recommend starting there.
The first thing we need to look at, is how many calories we should be eating.
To gain muscle mass: 16 - 18 calories per pound of bodyweight
To maintain weight: 14-16 calories per pound of bodyweight
To lose weight: 10-14 calories per pound of bodyweight
If we are looking to lose weight, start at the top end of the calories. This allows you to lower the calories without going ridiculously low, when you hit a plateau. Your body will become accustomed to the new routine and calories and “settle” down. This is when your weight loss comes to a halt and something needs to change. There a few factors we can play with, but the desired affect is to eat lots whilst losing weight. No carrot sticks and dry crackers on this site!
So, lets use a fictional character Sally. Sally currently weighs 10 stone and is looking to “tone up” and lose a little body fat. She has joined the program to use weights, build lean body mass and eat healthier. Sally looks at the lose weight calories and thinks this is for her.
10 stone in pounds is 143lbs. 143 x 14 = 2,000.
But as we well know, not all calories are equal. If we ate 2,000 calories of mars bars a day, would we have the desired physique or long-term health? Probably not.
This is where macronutrients come into play.
Macros simply mean macronutrients and these are your Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat.
Here’s a little secret, every food contains a little bit of each macro. Some macros more than others.
Broccoli? Has protein and fat, as well as carbs. Steak? Has carbs in it as well as protein and fat. You wont find many foods that don’t contain each macro.
Carbs – 4 calories per 1g of carbs
You need carbs for glucose, which is your main source of energy, especially when it comes to CrossFit and Weightlifting. These are not just your potatoes, rice and
pasta. Vegetables, fruit, legumes, oats all are a good source of carbohydrate and are the preferred source of energy and fuel.
Carbs that are digested and absorbed slowly are the most important as they are the ones to help control blood sugar, insulin concentrations, energy levels and body composition.
Refined carbs (think bread, white pasta and rice, cereals etc.) enter the body at a rapid pace and elevate bloody sugar and insulin in the body, which is why after a big starchy meal, you feel that crash and desperate need for a nap afterwards.
Keep to those unrefined carbohydrates of vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa/couscous and you will be consuming a increased micronutrient intake (more vitamins and minerals), a greater fiber intake (we’ll come back to fiber a little bit later), feel fuller for longer, a sped up metabolism and better blood sugar control.
Protein - 4 calories per 1g of protein
Mainly found in meats, but also found in pulses and vegetables, protein is your muscle gainer. We all know we should be eating protein, but why?
Protein is responsible for:
· Our building blocks – it is made up of amino acids, which are responsible for building and repairing muscle, our hormones, building our enzymes, immune chemicals and transport proteins.
· It’s extremely difficult to maintain a constant amino acid pool without dietary protein (whereas carbohydrates and fats are fairly well maintained) and without that pool of amino acid, if persisted for long enough, vital functions shut down.
The body has the ability to make 12 amino acids but we require a further 8 amino acids to be supplied from our diets. Because some of these amino acids are lost throughout the day, they have to be replaced through diet.
Fat – 9 calories per 1g of fat
· Is a good energy source
· Helps create and balance hormones
· Forms our brains and nervous system
· Provides 2 essential fatty acids, omega 6 and omega 3, which the body can’t make.
· Slows down digestion, which keeps us fuller for longer.
In a western diet, our diets are rich in omega 6 (nuts and seeds, hemp oil, flaxseed oil and sunflower oil) and are critical for overall health but are consumed too much today. An average western diet sees 16:1 of omega 6 to omega 3.
So, when it comes to fat try to get a balance and don’t forget your oily fishes (salmon, mackerel etc.), eggs, meat and dairy from grass fed animals and hemp seeds.
A little side note on fiber….
Fiber is a form of complex carbohydrate, and is important for the following reasons:
· Helps slow digestion so you can absorb your food easier, which aids in regulating blood sugar and keeping away that carb crash we spoke about earlier.
· Lowers cholesterol levels, which is great for your heart
· Keeps you fuller for longer which is great when you are in a calorie deficit and trying to lose weight!
· Helps bulk up stool (go to the loo nice and frequently)
· Speeds up digestion
· Helps aid a healthy digestive system.
Where can I find it?
So, where do we start?
Lets go back to Sally. She is fitting in 4 sessions from the program.
The recommended amount of protein is 1g per pound of bodyweight.
The recommended amount of carbohydrates is 3g per kg of bodyweight.
The rest is fats.
1g (protein) x 143 = 140g of protein (rounded down a little, lets not be pedantic).
3g of carbs x 65kg (kilo bodyweight) = 195g of carbs
140 x 4 = 560 calories from protein
195 x 4 = 780 calories from carbs
So, lets add up our calories so far
560 + 780 = 1,340 calories so far
The rest is made up from fat. We know that there is 9 calories per 1g so……
2,000 (Sallys total) – 1,340 (protein and carb calories) = 660 calories left, 660 of fat / 9 = 73g of fat
So Sally’s macros are:
140g of protein
195g of carbs
70g of fat
Ok, now before you go and skip out for the bread, cheese, bacon and crisps, hold your horses! This needs to be split up in the day with each meal containing a good meal of each, with us not feeling hungry or lethargic afterwards. It is WHAT we eat as much as it is the quantity!
A really good app to use to help with this is MyFitness Pal. Go to apps, download it and have a go at inputting your calories and your macros. It then adds it all up for you as you input your food throughout the day. it is lengthy the first time you do it but after inputting your first day, you can then copy to the rest of the week and keep everything CONSISTENT!
A hugely overlooked aspect of health and nutrition is consistency.
You wouldn’t expect to workout once a week and feel fit as a fiddle, so why would this work for nutrition?
With all of the above information, try to stick to a consistent amount of food (calories) on a daily basis for four weeks and begin implanting a consistent intake of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
This can come back to being accountable for what you are doing, in the gym and with food.
“Accountability is the acknowledgement of responsibility for your actions with the obligation to report, explain, and be responsible for the resulting consequences.”
By having someone keeping you accountable, you will be more likely to be consistent and achieve your goals.
A Day in the life of Sally
Lets have a look at how Sally can make these macros up throughout her day…..
Banana Pancake with 30g oats, 20g peanut butter and 10g honey
52g Carbs, 16g Fat, 18g Protein - 518 Calories
1 Protein Ball and 1 apple
35g Carbs, 7g Fat, 4g Protein - 217 Calories
Mexican Chicken with 150g baby potatoes
40g Carbs, 10g Fat, 53g Protein - 480 Calories
200g Blueberries and two squares of dark chocolate
29g Carbs, 10g Fat, 4g Protein - 217 Calories
200g chicken, 200g Mixed Vegetables and 75g Basmati rice made into a curry
63g Carbs, 4.5g Fat, 67g Protein - 570 Calories
100g Coconut Yogurt
20g Peanut Butter
15g Carbs, 18g Fat, 7g Protein - 261 Calories
(Side note: Sally is just an example. When you get a spare evening and you want to get down to the nitty gritty with your nutrition, sit one evening, work out your numbers and then input everything THE NIGHT BEFORE. Make sure you have the food in your fridge/freezer/cupboards first/before following it. Then follow this for a good four weeks. You can tweak things like, changing the meat source, using different fruits but keep the bulk principle the same. The above is a good variety of foods, no junk and has the fibre intake on a solid 40g for the day).
This is when we come to cheat meals. No one wants to eat broccoli and avoid the good sugary stuff every day. We hear so many people tell us they want to “still live a little”.
The most important thing I would like you to walk away with after reading all of this is the knowledge of how to create new habits.
Once you have those habits, then begin to live by the 80%-20% rule.
80% of the time, keep it consistent on the amount of calories and macros, and make sure you are moving around/exercising 80% of the week.
That 20% (those two rest days) can be the times you relax slightly, take your foot off the pedal and enjoy a glass of wine, massive cheeseburger or a nice pack of crisps.
Something to note on, after consuming a high carb/sugary meal, for every 1g of glucose you consume, your body stores 3g of water. So if you are going to consume a large pizza or night out, make sure the next day is not the day you chose to step on the scales, take your progress picture, do your fitness test or have your bodyfat taken.
If you still have questions, please feel free to give me a message and I can tailor a nutrition program for you to give you that kick start you feel you might need.