How Many Calories Should I Be Eating?
We are not studying nutrition for our knowledge but because we have goals we want to achieve. This is not a diet lesson, yet a science lesson so you will have the tools necessary to achieve the fitness goals you have set through nutrition. Now, there is no single diet that fits for all. It is the diet which you will persevere and stick to. Eric Helm was the creator of the nutrition pyramid, and this pyramid explains the way which nutrients are broken down in our body. Understanding each one of these levels and the importance they play will help you create the right nutrition plan for you. As well as avoid falling for anyone’s words saying that they found the “cure all” diet.
We listen to other people tell us what is good and bad. What works and what doesn’t. Well, not anymore. Here’s a quick nutrition run-down so you don’t ever feel lost again. Apply it to your current goals to create a personalized program! In about 30 minutes you’ll be smarter than 90% or people when it comes to nutrition. And even better, you’ll never start a fad diet again thinking it has some special sauce in it that causes weight to fall off. Through this guide you’ll learn a couple things (in order of importance).
- All diets are based on calories in / calories out
- We can eat protein, carbs and fat. None of them are bad.
- Vitamins and minerals are important once you have the first two steps down.
- The timing of nutrients makes a difference – but not that much!
- Supplements are helpful – but not gonna make the difference.
1. Calorie | Energy Expenditure
Calories are a monumental factor to weight loss. It is often a highly misunderstood topic of nutrition. We’re here to simplify it! Caloric intake and energy expenditure need to be addressed in unison. If you were to take in the same amount of calories as they were to expend what would happen? They would maintain their current weight. If more calories were taken in then the energy expenditure weight gain would be the result and vice versa. This is the most important concept to understand regarding calories. This is the method to achieving your goals of weight gain or weight loss.
Let’s start first by saying: 99% of diets, no matter what kind of diet it is, works for one reason.. You eat less calories. Yup. That’s it. Keto? Cut out major food groups and limit your eating to a certain list of food. Less calories. Intermittent fasting? Less time to eat. So less calories Paleo? Cut out major food groups and limit your eating to a certain list of food. Less calories. Cleanse? Cut out all food groups and limit your calories to drinking a juice or two. Less calories.
How many calories you need to stay at the same weight
Here is the most popular and well accepted nutrition protocol for calories to get started:
Bodyweight x 10 = maintenance calories
Example, if you were a 200 pound person and you would be eating 2,000 calories each day to stay at your weight. Not losing or gaining weight, maintaining!
Side note: If you are wanting to lose more than 50 pounds, use a weight that is closer to your ideal body weight. For example, if you are 260 pounds and want to lose 60 pounds, it would make more sense to use 200 as your weight instead of 260! No reason to add extra calories for body fat!
How much less/more?
Typically 500. But let’s learn why! One pound is 3,500 calories. If you wanted to lose 1 pound per week, you would need to eat 3,500 less in a week. Or 500 less per day. 3,500 / 7 = 500. If you wanted to GAIN 1 pound per week, you would need to eat 500 calories less than you need to maintain your weight each day. Makes since?
If you can maintain your weight at 2,000 calories per day, but eat 1,500 per day. After 1 week you would have lost 1 pound – effectively. In the exact opposite, if you were eating 500 calories per day more than your maintenance calories, you would be gaining 1 pound per week!
*note that you can fluctuate up to 8 pounds a day. Meaning you might need 8-10 weeks to tell a diet’s effectiveness!
Make sure that before moving on to the next part you have accurately done two things:
- Find out the amount of calories you need on a daily basis to maintain your weight. Then altered it to reach your goal of losing or gaining weight.
- DRILLED IN OUR HEAD that all diets that cause people to lose weight are fundamentally the same. You eat less calories than you would eat to maintain your bodyweight; therefore, you lose weight.
2. Macronutrients | Proteins, Fats, Carbs
Remember, knowing how many calories is the most essential aspect fo your diet. Knowing how many calories your body needs comes before implementing purposeful macronutrients. The three macronutrients, macros for short, are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. If your goal is simply weight gain or weight loss, the calories will suffice. But when we want to get strong muscles, we need to start focusing on protein. Because muscles are actually made of protein! So eating a certain amount of calories from protein everyday will help you keep a good muscle tone! The generally accepted formula is:
Protein: 0.5 – 1.0 g x Bodyweight
0.5 grams representing beginner weight lifters and people who are not that active. 1.0 grams per pound represents those who are already very active! So let’s do the math for a 200 pound person. If we chose 0.5g per pound you are eating 100g per day If we chose 1.0g per pound you are eating 200g per day. So let’s say we decided to be on the lower end and eat 100g.
Now how much carbs and fat do you eat?
The first step is to learn how many calories are in each nutrient, so you can know how many calories you have already eaten in protein and how many you have left! If this is a little confusing, good! You are learning. But this is all you need to know, so commit to not just reading this, but understanding it! After you commit, then it’s just a little bit of math.
You decided to eat 100g of protein per day, so you are eating 400 calories worth of proteins. For our example of 1,500 calories, after eating protein, we are now left with 1,100 calories to split up between carbs and fats! Here’s the cool part – it really doesn’t matter how you split it up! Here’s some easy examples!
Daily calories: 1,500 Protein: 100g (400cal) Carbs: 150g (600cal) Fats: 55g (500cal)
Daily calories: 1,500 Protein: 100g (400cal) Carbs: 50g (200cal) Fats: 100g (900cal)
Daily calories: 1,500 Protein: 100g (400cal) Carbs: 200g (200cal) Fats: 88g (900cal)
As long as you are eating in your calories you can break the macros up however you want! Some people find over time they are more energized by eating more carbs and some people do better on fats. Everyone is different when it comes to these small preferences. Not in calories though, everyone is not different in calories. Calories in and calories burned. If you eat more than you burn, you gain weight. Eat less, you lose. Easy.
Congratulations! It may not have been as eventful as buying a BRAND NEW DIET. But I promise you can *loose* 1 pound per week, week after week, without learning and more. And that’s just food – if you add exercise it’s even better. Faster and last longer!
The last three parts of the pyramid!
I will cover the last three levels of complex nutrition with a short page overview. Why? Because they aren’t that important to the majority of people. You most likely don’t need to know much about these last three things to be successful. You need to apply what you learned, and stick to it for 90 days. Yup, 90 days. Then tell me what happened. We call these last there items the advertiser’s main cast. Because these are the three players in nutrition you see hooks for in the media that want you to AVOID THESE 3 FOODS, or TAKE THIS SUPPLEMENT, etc.
Eating plenty of vitamins and minerals!
Once you have reaped all the benefits you can from your calories and macros, then you can get something from choosing better food options to get nutrients from. You can eat 1,500 calories everyday from beef jerky and skittles. You will lose weight, but will you feel stronger? Will you be more tone? Will your blood sugar levels be healthy? Triglycerides? This comes more from choosing things like vegetables to include in your diet.
The recommended intake of veggies is 1-2 cups for every 1,000 calories you eat!
How important is food timing?
Should I avoid eating after 7pm? Should I eat breakfast? Should I drink a protein shake right after my workout or wait 30 min? These fine tune small changes won’t yield much results unless we have mastered the fundamentals, but yes these changes make a slight difference when adjusting a diet that is correct in calories, macros! Example: Intermittent fasting.
Do I need to take Supplements?
Protein powders, creatine, pre-workout, thermogenics, etc. “Lose weight without diet and exercise. Really? Again, they do help. But if and ONLY if we are lined up everywhere else.