Mainstream medicine and nutrition knuckleheads will tell you that the only thing that counts when trying to gain weight or lose fat is calories. Most often when I meet with clients and we start to discuss their fat loss goals they will reiterate this verbatim. “I just need to burn more then I consume, or eat less.”
Bologna I say!
Being in charge of your health and well-being, body composition, and performance are more then just a matter of calories in and calories out. I hate to get all Reed Richards on you but it’s somewhat of an equation. Many things need to be factored in. Your age, current health, gender, training experience, goals, genetics… I know what you’re thinking. DAMN! That sounds complicated man. Well I’m here to tell you it’s not. So enjoy this ride friend.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, protein has 4 calories per gram so if you eat 100 grams of protein a day that equals to 400 calories. That is all good and well and important to know but I myself do not particularly want to mess with numbers and think about what I am eating all day. I do enough thinking as is.
More importantly protein is used primarily by the body for structure and function. It can also be used as an energy source but your body prefers to use carbohydrates and fat for this. It will only go to protein if the other two sources of calories in your diet are being neglected. You can think of it like this. The bat car may run on diesel fuel but it will probably perform and run better if you put supreme gasoline in it instead.
So how much should I eat?
It really depends on what you are doing. If you are not very active then you can get away with less protein in your diet because there is less repair, structure, and bodily function that needs to be accounted for. On the flip side, if you are killing yourself in the gym, or have a fairly active life, and maybe under a lot of personal, professional, or lifestyle stress it may be beneficial for you to take in a little more.
So sorry if you are looking for an exact number, I am not going to give you one. It really needs to be individualized to the person. However, I will say this. If you are training like a superhero and fairly active in your life, eating a protein rich meal 3-4 times a day should help you pick up a car if someone happens to be under it.
About a palm sized serving from this list shout do the trick.
When I first think of fats I think delicious! Then I think of them as my favorite energy source. Although, if a shit ton of carbohydrates are consumed with those fats on a daily basis you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be stored in some unmentionable areas on your body (adipose tissue). Fat also acts as a protective cushioning for organs, as well as main components of our cell membranes and hormones. For you number junkies each gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. I repeat, please do not start adding up what you have eaten today.
In a study conducted by Sports scientists Albright and Stern (May 1998) a woman with 20% body fat to use for energy for an entire month! In order to get into using this body fat for fuel we need to keep our carbohydrates low enough in order to access it. If this occurs our bodies go into a state that is known as ketosis. This is when fats are fueling our body’s energy demands.
Typically to get into this state our bodies need to be taking in roughly 50 grams or fewer of carbohydrates per day. Again, I hate numbers and counting calories or anything else for that matter. This is where a Paleo approach to nutrition comes in. Simply adjust your diet to one that consists of meats, green vegetables, and healthy fats such as olive oil and some nuts. I know it is not Paleo but hard cheeses or goat cheese would be excellent choices as well. If you are having a difficult time with eating just these foods, sneak in a ½ cup of berries or an apple. Your body should still be apple to keep itself primed for burning fat for fuel.
Carbohydrates, like protein also contain 4 calories per gram. All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars and most often glucose. The chief use of these simple sugars or glucose is energy, just like our friend the fat. Carbohydrates are either used immediately for energy or are stored for use later. Our brain and nerve cells prefer carbohydrate (glucose) as its primary fuel source. This is why you may feel a little lethargic or foggy brained if you reduce them. With that said, our brain and nerve cells can also use ketones for fuel as well and once accustomed to using tem for fuel we can run very efficiently.
If to many carbohydrates are consumed and must be stored they will be stored in our muscle and liver cells. Once these cells become too full the glucose is now converted into fatty acids and stored in fat cells…. YIKES!
I don’t want it to seem like carbohydrates are the enemy but I just want to point out that our bodies can run extremely efficiently (and look damn good naked) with out them. Unless you are an extreme endurance athlete they are really not that necessary.
- Energy Costs To digest each macronutrient (protein, carbs, fat) our body experiences an energy deficit. It takes energy to digest each one with protein taking the most, followed by carbs, then fat. This means that if you eat 2,000 calories of protein you are actually eating less then if you ate 2,000 calories of fat because it cost your body more energy to digest them.
- Don’t go too low Cutting your calories to low can slow your metabolism. That is why the theory of simply eating less to lose weight drives me nuts. If that was the case, eat nothing and run like the Flash and you’ll look great naked! If your calories get to low you may lose weight initially but your body will not be able to maintain that rate over the long haul. More often then not it will go into survival mode and your weight loss will come to a screeching hault. This is why we focus our nutrition on burning as much fat we currently have for energy. Again, this can easily be done by lowering our carbohydrate consumption.
- But I’m not hungry Protein actually reduces your appetite. Start your day with a balanced protein and fat breakfast with low carbohydrates and you will notice that you will be less hungry over the course of a day. Try simply having some scrambled eggs with a small handful of nuts.
LONG STORY SHORT
Do not focus so much on how much you are eating as opposed to what you are eating. Quality over quantity is a recurring theme you will see here. I’m not saying go out and demolish a plate of hamburgers like the Hamburgler but make sensible choices. Give the old Paleo a shot. Meats, veggies, healhy fats, and some fruit here and there and never drink your calories. Chances are you will do pretty damn well. Send me message if you have had any luck with this.
See you later or I’ll see you at another time