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How many calories should you be eating?

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Have you read somewhere that you should be eating 1200 calories a day to lose weight?  Why is this amount considered the magic number for weight loss?  Your weight loss goal is much more than a magic number.  It is a calculation of YOUR height, YOUR age, YOUR weight (BMR) and YOUR activity level.  It is a number custom to YOUR body!

BMR is the amount of energy expended while at rest; basically if you laid in bed all day you would burn whatever your BMR calculation is.  BMR decreases with age but increases with muscle mass (lift weights ladies!). You can find out  what your BMR is here. ( http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ )

Once you find out your BMR, you can calculate your daily caloric needs based on your activity level.  You can do that here. ( http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/ )  This figure is the amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight and activity level.

If you are looking to lose weight you will need to create a caloric deficit, which is done by eliminating calories from your maintenance diet.  To start, decrease the amount of calories you consume by as little as possible. I would suggest taking out no more than 500 calories per day.  Most women are looking for drastic results so they make the mistake of removing way too many calories from their daily intake. This may initially yield faster results, but you do not realize that you are only starving yourself and causing health and metabolic problems for the future.  By eliminating only 500 calories, you are NOT making drastic changes so you are able to incorporate new eating habits into your lifestyle. You are also leaving wiggle room for the dreaded weight loss plateau.

Aim to safely lose 1-2lbs per week. Remember, you didn’t gain the weight overnight, so try your best not to get frustrated because you are not losing it overnight. Being patient will allow your body to have a healthy and steady weight loss journey!

Carb Control

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Do carbs make you fat? As a personal trainer I hear this question all the time. Actually it is usually more of a statement, “Carbs make me fat so I don’t eat them.” We have been taught that carbs are “bad”.  We have NOT been taught that carbs are fuel for our bodies and are loaded with water.

EXAMPLE

  • 1 gram of carbohydrate you consume holds roughly 3 grams of water
  • 200 Grams of Carbs=600 grams of water
  • There are approximately 454 grams in a pound therefore 600 grams of water will equal about 1.5lbs.

Do you see where this is going?  You did not gain 1.5lbs in fat from eating the extra carbs(assuming you did not eat over your caloric needs) you gained 1.5lbs in water.

This is why people think that  taking carbs out of your diet makes you lose weight.  All you are losing is water, not FAT (if you eat a caloric deficit you will lose weight regardless). The same is true with eating more carbs; as long as you are eating within your caloric needs, you are NOT gaining FAT. You are gaining water!

There are two types of carbs. The first is a complex carb, or low glycemic. Complex carbs consist of a chemical structure made up of 3 or more sugars rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals; therefore they take longer to digest. The longer they take to digest, the longer they will provide you energy.  Examples of complex carbs are oatmeal, vegetables, brown rice, etc.

Second, is a simple carb, or high glycemic. Simple carbs consist of 1 or 2 sugars. These would be refined sugars with little nutritional value. These carbs are digested by the body a lot quicker than complex carbs, therefore giving you very little energy (hence the sayings “sugar high” and “sugar crash”).Examples of simple carbs are candy, fruit juice, table sugar, etc.

When it comes to your mental and physical health, both of these types of carbs play a very important role. Think of carbohydrates as fuel. Just like a car, your body needs fuel to function. Eating the right type of carbs before and after a workout will play a huge role in your physical energy during your workout and your physical and mental energy after your workout.

I highly recommend eating a low glycemic carb (complex carb) before your workout. This carb will provide you with fuel. It would be best to pair the complex carb with a fat, which will help slow down the absorption rate of the carbohydrate, therefore giving you even longer lasting energy. An example of this would be an apple with peanut butter or oatmeal mixed with coconut oil.

You should eat a high number of glycemic carbs (simple carb) after your workout to quickly replenish the energy lost during the workout. It would be best to pair thesesimple carbs with a protein. The protein will supply essential amino acids necessary to repair muscle that was broken down during strength training. An example of this would be a protein shake and banana or egg whites and white bread.

Another statement I hear all the time is, “I don’t eat carbs after 5:00PM.” Guess what? CARBS DO NOT KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS. You can eat carbs throughout the day up until you go to bed. As long as you are eating YOUR correct macronutrient totals (PROTEIN, CARBS, AND FAT), the carbs are not going to make you gain weight past 5:00pm. That being said, I do suggest that you try to consume more carbs around your daily activities. Remember the car fuel analogy?

EXAMPLE

I currently eat 5 meals a day containing180 grams of carbs  total. The meal before my workout I contains 45 grams of carbs and  the meal I eat after my workout  contains another 45 grams of carbs. The remaining 100 grams of carbs are split between the other 3 meals which means right before bed I am eating about 30grams of carbs. Carbs after dark are ok!

I hope you find this information useful and the negativity is taken out of the “great carb debate.” Eat your carbs, enjoy the fuel they provide, and enjoy life.

Flexible Dieting

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I hate the word “diet.” I use it almost every day, but to me the word has a negative connotation. I hear “diet” and I think restrict, limit, deny. There isn’t one positive word or thought that comes from this word, yet it is so important. The definition of diet (when used as a noun) in the dictionary is

The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

Seems harmless right?

The definition of diet (in the dictionary) when used as a verb is

Torestrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.

Not so harmless!

Why do people want to RESTRICT themselves to special foods in order to lose weight? Why do people want to let their dieting dictate what family function, work event, or date night they can attend based on the food they eat. Why not learn a flexible way of dieting that allows you to incorporate all different types of foods into your diet so you don’t miss out on anything? Can you imagine attending a family function and enjoying a piece of cake without guilt while on a diet? Enter, FLEXIBLE DIETING!

Flexible dieting is nothing new but it is rarely practiced. As a personal trainer, I am always hearing about a diet that someone is on: paleo, clean eating, no carbs, etc. but I never hear about someone being on a diet that is conducive to their lifestyle.

Paleo diet, oops, had a piece of cheese, I am off the diet. No Carbs, oops had a french fry, I am off my diet. Clean eating, oops had ketchup to go with that fry, I am off my diet but I will start again on Monday. Sounds ridiculous but it is true!

Flexible dieting allows you to eat the foods you wouldn’t normally eat on a diet. Therefore, flexible dieting is a lifestyle, not a fad. You should eat to nourish your body first. Nutritionists recommend food over vitamins. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your vitamins, but different foods provide a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fibers that are not found in a vitamin or mineral supplement. Once you eat to nourish your body, then it is good to eat to provide satiety. This is a state of feeling full and or satisfied. Are you going to feel full or satisfied when restricting your diet? Unfortunately not, and all this can do is create issues in the long term.

When you’re trying to lose weight there’s too much pressure put on eating “good” foods and “bad” foods. Depending on the type of diet you’re on will determine what is on your “good” and “bad” list. When you don’t allow your body to have the “bad” foods that are against the diet, you will start to obsess over them and usually break down and eat the “bad” food, throw in the diet towel, and start the vicious cycle of yo-yoing. This is why I preach to my clients, friends, and family about flexible dieting. With flexible dieting you do not need to label foods as “good” or “bad.” It is all out there for you to choose: healthy, unhealthy, whatever it is, it is allowed.

“Woo Hoo, call the diet police, I am breaking out and going on a bender!” Not so fast! Flexible dieting isn’t a big free for all! It is a way to incorporate an uncontrolled way of eating into your lifestyle. As mentioned earlier, you should eat to nourish your body first, but if you are trying to nourish yourself with Oreos, your body is going to have some issues with that. If you are meeting your daily fruit, vegetables, grains, protein, fat, and dairy requirements, then what is wrong with a couple of Oreos thrown in? The “all or nothing” effect does not work with most people. What is wrong with allowing yourself a few Oreos every day and including them in your daily totals?

The key to flexible dieting is tracking your macronutrients. Macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbs. In order to track your macros you need a diet tracking software. I love to use Lose It. It’s free for the basic option and is the most user friendly diet tracking application I have used. You can find the website here (http://www.loseit.com). With this app, I am able to scan the barcode on my food and 90% of the time it is correct. The other 10% I have to take a few minutes to enter the food manually but it is conveniently saved for the next use. The two negative things I can say about Lose It are that it calculated my daily calories way too low and the fiber is usually off. Make sure you go to this site (http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm), as mentioned in my previous blog, in order to find out what your true daily caloric requirements are. This site will help you calculate the correct amount of calories needed in order to sustain you throughout the day. Make sure to include your activity level so that the extra calories can be added into your totals. After that, you can go here

http://www.freedieting.com/tools/nutrient_calculator.htm to figure out how many macronutrients you need.

In the beginning it will be hard to let go of the good food, bad food habit. I have been applying this method for a year and I am still not perfect. When I find myself labeling food I will step back and ask, “Will this give my body the nutrients it needs? Will it provide me with lasting energy or will I crash 20 minutes after eating it?” Sometimes I make the right decision, but sometimes I am hungry 20 minutes later looking for my next fix. This is a lifestyle, not a fad, so thankfully I can learn, try to apply what I have learned and move on. Remember, it takes 21 days to start a new habit. Give flexible dieting a 21 day chance and I am certain you will feel the control food has over you gradually fade away.