When most people join a gym or start working out, they do it because they want to get in shape. While the phrase “get in shape” can mean a multitude of things, generally what I see is that people actually mean they want to lose weight, and more specifically they want to lose body fat. Losing weight could mean you are losing muscle mass as well, which is the opposite of what we want to do (here’s my last post on why you should be strength training). We want to keep as much muscle mass as possible while getting you into a healthy body fat range. Fun fact, your body actually needs some body fat in order to perform some of its major functions, especially for you ladies. But, that’s a whole nother ball game. back to nutrition.
I see a lot of people dive right into working out, and doing great things in the gym, but they never really see much of a change to their body fat. Why? Because they aren’t addressing the true problem of why they gained the extra pounds in the first place. That’s right, they are still eating the same crappy foods that got them to where they are. While the numbers may range from professional to professional, in my opinion weight loss (fat loss) comes down to at least 80% nutrition, maybe even more. If you are trying to get really lean, like under 10% fat lean, then I would say the importance of proper nutrition goes up to 90-95% of your routine and daily habits. With that being said I don’t think that it is necessary for most people to get that strict with what they are eating. Look, I love doughnuts, and pizza, and chicken wings (seriously, I would do some crazy things for chicken wings…) and I will never give them up totally, and I don’t expect my clients to give up their favorite foods either. BUT, if you have a goal you want to reach then you might have to cut back on some things for a while. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat them again, shoot you may be able to have them today! The key is planning. Now I’ll explain how I make a game plan for people to reach their goals, while leaving a little wiggle room to fit in the foods that they love.
First we start with a BMR. No, that doesn’t mean Bad Man Running. It stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, which is basically the amount of calories you need to stay alive if you just stayed in bed all day and #netflixbinge your favorite show (The Office is great for this by the way). So how do you determine your BMR? And what does that matter?
To find your BMR you can either talk to your trainer (HI, my name is Zach. I can do that math for you) or the easiest way is to just google BMR calculator. It’ll do it for you and you won’t even need to pull out that calculator from junior high. Why do we need this number, this number of calories can give us a starting point to get you heading in the right direction for weight loss. Say your BMR says you need 2000kcal/day, But you know you have been eating more like 3000kcal/day. And you recently started working out, we can probably start you at 2500 calories per day and you would most likely lose weight.
Here’s the next trick, you have to track it in the beginning. You don’t have to track it forever, but I can almost guarantee that if you aren’t tracking your food intake then you are eating more calories than you think.
Our next step is to figure out your macros (That is short for macronutrients). Once we find your BMR, then we can find your protein, carbohydrate, and fat numbers in order to dial it in more. I generally start people around 40-45% of their calories coming from carbs (yes, I know that seams like a lot, but it isn’t. Seriously.) 30-35% of calories coming from protein, and 25-30% coming from Fats. So if we stick to that 2000 calories/day it comes out to around 200-225 grams of Carbs, 150-175 grams of Protein, and 55-66 grams of fats, per day. Now, this is our starting point and everyone is different, so some people need more carbs to feel better and be more productive and some people need more fats to accomplish it. We can determine that after a week or two of tracking things to see how things are progressing.
The reason I like tracking things in this way is that it gives clients the flexibility of eating a few of the things they love instead of eating only chicken and broccoli….boring. Although, you can make some amazing dishes with chicken and broccoli. But if you have a client meeting and you are going out to lunch, a cheeseburger can fit into your numbers (if you plan accordingly with the rest of your day). Or maybe you have a kids birthday party where they are having pizza and cake (that sounds awesome right now…), that’s no problem because you planned it into your daily macros. It works great because it gives your the freedom to eat some fun things (with most of your foods being high quality and otherwise nutritious) but still gives your guidelines to follow. It’s like you can have your cake, and actually enjoy eating it without feeling guilty. Why feel guilty about eating something you love? Enjoy that one piece, just don’t eat the whole cake, haha.
So there you have it, now you can crush those workouts, eat your nutritious dinner after, and then enjoy your scoop of ice cream for dessert. Just make sure it fits into your macros.
If you have more questions, I have more answers…or I know where to find them, lol. Just shoot me a message, or look me up on facebook, or Instagram (both Umbreitwellness). I’d be more than happy to help you calculate your macros, or help you get your lift on at the gym!
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