So many people ask: What should I eat?
But what they’re really asking is: “How do I align my nutrition habits with my individual aesthetic and athletic goals?”
Counting Calories: Generally speaking if you want to lose weight you should eat more protein and less carbohydrates, and a moderate intake of fat. It breaks down to counting calories. I KNOW no one wants to count calories but it’s an unavoidable aspect of nutrition no matter what your goals are. Counting calories is associated with being obsessive and anxious about food, which is neither desirable or necessary. BUT, being aware of calories and where they come from is an important aspect of nutritional education and is integral to making good choices. The goal of “counting calories” is often misunderstood and leads to people discounting the importance of quality as well as satisfaction. The goal isn’t to lose regard for the nutritional value of quality ingredients or to eliminate your emotional connection around that aspect of our culture. The goal is to understand the different macronutrients, understand the different roles that food groups play, and to be satisfied that your nutritional habits are in alignment with your values! Not knowing where calories come from or how they are labeled is a good way to get suckered into unhealthy patterns either by accident or by being susceptible to marketing design.
Weight Loss: We endorse The Zone Diet as a good starting point. The Zone Diet recommends that 30% of your calories come from Protein, 40% from Carbohydrate, and 30% from Fat. This is a good balance for a typical body type. It provides enough Protein to build and repair muscles, enough Carbohydrate to provide fuel for an active day or a workout, and enough Fat to facilitate energy storage. The way you would modify that ratio for weight loss might look something like 40% Protein, 30% Carbohydrate, and 30% Fat. Overall your total calorie intake needs to be lower than what you expend in a day (your caloric expenditure probably depends on your job). Know what’s going into your body, consult with a coach to track biometrics, and use an exercise tracking app to really dial things in. You would also target these ratios based off of your specific body type. There are three categories of body types which we won’t go into fully in this post but you can look them up HERE. What body type are you? Which body type you are will determine your optimal Macronutrient ratios.
Muscle Gain: For building muscle you should maintain a caloric surplus. Eat more calories than you burn! The extra calories will go towards muscle building, although it may also contribute to more fatty tissue as well. But rest assured, even with the directing to “EAT MORE” the balance of Macronutrients is still paramount.
Burn Fat, Gain Muscle: For most people, this is the goal. If you look good and feel good, it doesn’t really matter what the scale says. The goal isn’t to lose weight, it’s to build muscle in the right areas and lose fat in the right areas. And there is some REALLY low hanging fruit to pick in terms of nutritional habits. The typical American diet is high in Fat, high in Carbohydrate, and low in Protein. Wikipedia agrees with me, check it out. To restore balance to your macros, cut out some easy Carbs and add some easy Protein. For example, reduce alcohol intake (Carbs), and increase lean Protein! If you are now asking “Well what foods are Protein, which are Carbohydrate, and which are Fat?” then you are on the right track and we’d be happy to talk about it with you at the gym!
Action Step: You can’t change what you don’t measure. The first step any nutrition coach will ask you to do is keep a record of what you’re eating and drinking. No judgement, just write it down. Keep track for a week, then bring it in and schedule a session with a coach to go over it. Then you can assess what habits are leading you down undesirable food paths, which habit to focus on first, and what to expect as a result. Also, for homework, visit this appendix HERE to look up which foods are favorable/unfavorable sources of Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats!
Thanks for reading,