In my last post I talked about finding that caloric sweet spot; the balance between eating enough to maintain energy and lean muscle mass while cutting calories to lose excess body fat. As I emphasized, it can be a fine line between cutting calories to lose fat and avoiding simultaneous muscle loss.
Whatever your goals, whether you are looking to maintain weight, lose weight or make gains, there is some simple math that can help you get started.
Calories – The Basic Bitch
Calories are one of the most basic foundations of nutrition. They are everywhere, in everything we consume and are constantly up in our grill. The fact of the matter is, just like dem basic bitches, we can’t avoid them.
I am not saying that you have to start counting calories; meticulous calorie counting and neurotic food measuring rituals is no way to live! If you find that you easily maintain your body weight and don’t have to try too hard to gain or lose weight, congratulations, you are living within your caloric sweet spot! Tracking calories is a good way to gauge what you are consuming, but it can become obsessive and all consuming for anyone who has ever dealt with disordered eating.
I have to admit, it drives me crazy when people say, “just eat real food and you won’t have to worry about counting calories or macros. It’s hard to overeat healthy food.”
Ummmm, False. This might work for some people, but if you are anything like me….that’s not the case. I can tell you right now that I could easily consume 3000 calories of ‘real food’ without blinking an eye. One (or two) swift heaping table spoons of nut butter, a tasty sweet potato, an “under-estimated” 5 ounce chicken breast and BOOM, 3000 calories and Kpups is one step closer to that aforementioned skirted bathing suit.
So, for those of you like me, who struggle a little bit with self-control and could fall off the deep end into a pit full of nut butter at any moment, here are some VERY simple ways to determine your caloric needs and macro-nutrient targets.
Dem Math Skillz
My having a journalism degree = my having tragic math skills. However, coming up with a rough estimate to determine your caloric needs is very simple. But remember, this is going to be a rough estimate and you will have to make adjustments based on how your body feels and reacts to change. Give it 3-5 weeks of good effort before you re-evaluate and make changes.
First determine your caloric value.
What is a caloric value you ask??
This is the number we plug in to our equation based on our lifestyle factors. Be honest with yourself and don’t pick a low number because you want to see faster more significant results. Women will usually be on the lower end of the spectrum (booooo) and men will be on the top end.
10-12 = Sedentary lifestyle, slow metabolism, metabolic damage or a high body fat %
13-14 = Very active lifestyle, exercise at a high intensity, have a fast metabolism, have a low body fat %.
Now determine your goals?
Body weight x caloric value = maintenance weight
Body weight x caloric value – 200 to 300 calories = weight loss
Body weight x caloric value + 500 to 700 calories = gainz
To learn more about the importance of tracking macros vs calories – read my earlier post.
I also explain how to track Macros in the post I just linked to…but in case you are too lazy to refer back to another page (you really are that lazy, I know it), than I will lay it out again.
Protein – Most athletes will want to eat around 1g – 1.2/lb
Carbs – Most people will be good with 1.0-1.2 g/lb
Fat- Fat will make up the remainder of your diet.
Putting it all together….
Protein: grams x 4 = Calories
Carbs: grams x 4 = Calories
Fat: Total calories – (protein + carbs) = Fat calories then Fat calories ÷ 9 = fat/grams
That is that folks…sorry for the long and arduous post containing a lot of facts and figures. There is definitely an app for this, and you could just plug this all into the internets lickety split. However, now you are competent enough to know how it all works, why you are eating what you are eating, and how to make adjustments to your diet if things are not working just right! You are now enlightened…you’re welcome.