This is the husband of one of my clients. Finding pure joy, satisfaction, and laughter in Lucky Charms and Oreos as his wife is teaching him a bit on calorie intake and what makes up that calorie intake. Calories (kcals) are derived from food. Calories is energy. Calories fuel our bodies. Calories are needed to regulate our sleep. Calories are needed for immune function. Calories are needed to think. Calories are needed to poop. Calories are needed brush your teeth, scrub your tongue, and floss.
Calories are needed for every facet of your daily life from the smallest of the smallest tasks to the ones that take away a ton of energy…like raising children. 😛
Calories is the summation of this:
- Protein (1 gram[g]) x4 kcals
- Carbs (1g) x4 kcals
- Fat (1g) x9 kcals
- Alcohol (1g) x7 kcals
So to go off on a quick tangent and tie this all together so you can see this in action. Let’s assume you want to eat this salmon and roasted potatoes for dinner.
Although an app like MyFitnessPal will calculate the calorie totals for you, you can do it yourself for practice.
To figure out the calories for the salmon, by hand, you would multiply:
- 51g (protein) x 4kcals = 204kcals (from protein)
- 0g (carbs) x 4kcals = 0kcals (from carbs)
- 16g (fat) x 9kcals = 144kcals.
- 204kcals + 0kcals + 144kcals = 348kcals in the salmon.
Now on the MFP, it says 364kcals and depending on how the numbers were rounded in the app, it’s off by 16kcals. Not a big deal at all. Kcal numbers in terms of intake is a sliding scale as some days you may exert more energy than others but it’s the constant deficit that determines the fat loss (or gain if in a surplus).
To understand what foods are protein, fats, and carbs, here is a good list to start with:
If you add alcohol to the mix, to keep protein constant (which is more important in terms of body composition), the calories you intake from alcohol will be subtracted from carbs/fats.
Example: If you had a beer that was 130kcals for the can. You would subtract 130kcals from carbs/fats that day. Takeaway 8g fat (72kcals) and 15g carbs (60kcals) which is 132kcals total. I mean I’m literally just keeping it general. There is no set way to do it just make sure you match total caloric intake as close as possible.
Now that it’s done, let rewind a bit and continue.
If you can imagine why people learn to love food again and break the bad eating patterns of the past, it’s because there is nothing “good/bad”. There is no “healthy/unhealthy” food. There literally is the food you want and enjoy and how it can help reach your goals. “The poison is in the dose”.
You’re view of “healthy eating” may be unhealthy if are condemning those who choose to eat foods you consider “unhealthy” meanwhile they are reaching their goals of fat loss or muscle gain, happy, more energetic, do not fear food, and go on with life without heavy food restriction.
There is an abundance of people who talk about “macro-dieting” and “IIFYM dieting” and well…it’s not a diet. Really…and I coach this way.
All this means is eating the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs to reach your goal of fat loss and maximal lean body mass retention (because that’s what fat loss is).
I wrote about this (and many other topics in-depth) in here: Beginner Mistakes Killing Your Fat-Loss Efforts
Sure, you don’t and won’t live off of cereals and candy all day, every day. You want a diet that is well-rounded and is full of nutrient-dense food, has adequate fiber, and is allowing you to eat in a manner that isn’t fearful of food or makes you “work the food off”. That is how you start disordered eating and can be the road to an eating disorder.
And then you have the people who talk about “micro-dieting”.
These people frustrate me. Why? Because “micro” by definition is the small stuff. “Macro” is the major key. It’s like majoring in a minor. If you are eating a well rounded diet, you will intake adequate vitamins and minerals from all your food. There is no need to “hit my micros”. You’re already doing that if you are eating as you should.
While this all may seem like common knowledge to the person who has been learning this, there are plenty of people who know nothing about macros, know nothing about how calories affect body composition, and don’t know that they can absolutely eat whatever they essentially want to reach their goals.
I know, it seems unbelievable. You were promised a fix in 21 days. You were promised lemon juice and cayenne pepper would cure every ill you have. But guess what? They…do…not…work. Sure, “it worked” for those days because essentially you starved yourself but 99% of people doing any of these things lost the weight just to regain it and then some. Be…honest…with yourself.
You need to get your nutrition in order and get in adequate protein, adequate carbs, and adequate fats if you want to lose the fat.
If you do not do that, you will be on a cycle getting you absolutely nowhere.
So when people rant and rave about how they got their macros, what they’re really saying is, “I finally found something that isn’t a quick fix, that is sustainable and maintainable, and I can essentially eat whatever so long as I do not eat more than what is given to me”.
I wrote this post on Facebook a while back:
Nothing is truer than this.
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