The 5 Body Shape PRIORITIES #2
Next up, CALORIES and why calories are King when it comes to body shape change.
Any diet plan or program is either a blatant or disguised way of moderating calorie intake. If you look at the big players out there that have you restrict a whole macronutrient like carbs to the plans that have you calorie count in a sneaky way such as counting points, every diet gets you to cut calories one way or another.
It’s just that some seem easier to manage on a day to day basis than other, and this largely depends on your starting point too.
For the record, carbs are good for you and needed for the most part so never having a carb again isn’t recommended for most people. Just imagine going ‘low-carb for life’ and never having pizza, chocolate, wine, beer, crisps, chips, rice, fruit, cereal, pasta… you name it, it’s off the menu!
How morale-sapping is that?
How long would it take for you to ‘break’ and binge eat those things you’re restricting? Or how hard would it be to actually eat out somewhere with friends, or eat whilst travelling where food control is less in your favour?
Anyway, calories are King here and rather than ‘go down the diet rabbit hole’ I’ll explain what you should probably do if you’re not already.
First things first, you need to understand where you’re going wrong if you aren’t the body shape you want to be right now. If you need to lose weight then you’re eating too much and/or not burning enough off each day. Chances are your calories in are too much, but without then knowing what calories things you eat contain you don’t necessarily know which are the bad guys.
Thos ‘healthy fats’ from nuts and seeds you’re grazing on as a snack all day because the magazines told you it’s healthy, contain 9 calories per gram of fat which is over double what carbs contain per gram so perhaps do a bit of research into the amounts you’re eating and what the calories equate to.
This is simple to do nowadays with apps like MyFitnessPal that let you scan a barcode of a packet and tell you the calorie and macronutrient (protein, fats and carbs) breakdown of said items.
I’ll use the example of the bag of nuts. You can either go for a more accurate way or the ‘by eye’ way but I’ll let you decide on what you should probably do at first.
The accurate way is to grab a set of digital kitchen scales (literally 5 quid off eBay will suffice) zero the scales and pour on your usual portion of nuts. Scan the packet and then add the grams you weighed into the app diary to see what it gives you (you can also google for example 20g almonds and it’ll just pull the data from the calorie databases of popular websites for you).
Now, if you are someone who needs say 1500 calories per day to maintain your current body weight you could be taking in 250 calories from nuts as a snack. Couple that with meals that may be more calorie dense than you realise and you’re suddenly over your required calories for that day.
Do that consistently and there you have weight gain! Simple right?
So how do we then bring that calorie consumption down?
Well, as mentioned, one way (and the most accurate right now) is to weight and measure everything you eat and drink, along with logging it in MFP app. Or at least doing it for a short period of time such as 1 to 4 weeks, which can bring about some learning of portion sizes so you can transition to ‘by eye’ method later.
Or we start mean simple by loading up on lean protein and veggies each meal, before adding in no more than a small (one cupped handful) portion of carbs to a single meal per day, and also adding in some fats such as a teaspoon of olive oil to salads, a palm size portion of nuts as a snack, a thumb nail size of coconut oil to cook with. Don’t overdo the fruit at this point, 1 portion per day is plenty if your vegetable intake is high for the vitamins and minerals.
Oh, and if you don’t like ‘your greens’ and you’re an adult then I suggest you start eating like one if you want to prioritise health and body shape over eating cereals, sweets, crisps and junk food.
There are plenty of varieties of veggies and ways to prepare them out there so the excuse of ‘I don’t eat x or I hate y ‘ should be invalid because of the alternative choices that are available.
Another thing on ‘being an adult’ - if you stuff up a meal or a day and think that everything is ruined so you deserve a binge, don’t panic!
One mistake isn’t going to ruin your progress, nor is a whole day of junk but the weeks which follow that you carry on eating whatever and not prioritising health WILL make a difference.
Make adult decisions, take responsibility for your own body and actions, and just get back on the horse. If you live by the YOLO rule when you eat (you only live once for those who aren’t clued up on the modern slang) then just know that you’ll probably only live a shorter life too, but that’s your choice so crack on if you want.
Here’s where to start in terms of daily calories (for weight and fat loss not sports performance or strength and muscle gain) is to take your bodyweight in pounds and times by 10 or 11. That’s your starting calorie total to aim for each day. If your weight doesn’t move and waist measures don’t decrease after 10 to 14 days then reduce that amount by 100 calories or cut down on your carb portions (keeping them to training days instead of every day).
Keep your for intake to lean protein, veggies, some fats, minimal junk and sweet things, some fruit, little to no liquid calories at first (alcohol, lattes, juices and fizzy pop) until you get an understanding of your intake requirements.
Protein shakes are OK but may not fill you up as much as chewable food, and plan your meals in advance so you’re less likely to make quick but poor choices.
As you can imagine, diet is a massive subject so this is literally a few points around calories and what you might want to focus on first.
If you've any questions or would love to learn more about how to simplify your diet as well as increase your exercise then get in touch with us online as we're always willing to help.