Hey y'all. I so appreciate all your feedback and ideas on topics. I decided that first I need to scale back and start with the basics. So I'm gonna do a little blog series on just that… calories, carbs, protein, and fat. I'm going to do my best to explain each and why they're important. I'm obviously going to skip a lot of the really technical science stuff so I don't put you to sleep and I'm sure I won't address everything so as always… if you think of questions… ask! This stuff will be pretty generic so, (get ready for the shameless plug) we can always make an appointment and talk about what you need specifically.
Calorie. It's almost a dirty four letter word. I noticed throughout my internship that there's a few words in the nutrition world that scare people… carbs and calories probably rank as the top two. Really, I think these guys just get a bad wrap, lets call them misunderstood.
We need calories for everything: breathing, moving, even sleeping. The amount of calories that each person needs depends on their gender, age, body size and composition (meaning body fat and muscle mass) and activity level. The amount of calories my body needs (notice that I said NEEDS) will vary from yours. Without these little guys we literally can't function, and I'm not talking the I'm hungry and can't think straight type of function, I mean literally your body will shut down.
So we all know what happens when we eat too many calories, hence the whole bad wrap thing, but have you ever thought about why it's important to eat ENOUGH calories? Here's the part where I ask you to forget about everything you know about calories. One of the biggest offenses I see (especially in women) is not eating enough. I'm pretty sure in our minds we all think eat more and gain weight, eat less and lose weight. Now that's true… but there's a lot more to the story. Calories are given in a range, that range is on purpose. the bottom half of the range is what your body NEEDS. Eating less than that sounds like weight loss… right? Ehhhh maybe.
I would say the goal of most people is less body fat, more muscle. I'm going to explain this is the simplest form possible… muscle is more calorically expensive than fat. What does that mean? It means it takes more calories to maintain muscle than it does fat. Think of it like shopping… fat is walmart, muscle is chanel. You need to eat more calories to maintain muscle. If your body doesn't have enough calories it will shed muscle and KEEP fat. Scary, huh?! Basically what I'm saying is if you don't eat enough your body is gonna freak out and think it's starving, therefore everything you put in your body it's going to store… as fat.
I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I spent hours in the gym, ate barely 1000 calories a day and couldn't understand why I was getting fatter. It wasn't muscle, it was pudge, and it wasn't cute. Long story short, when I finally figured out that I needed to eat enough calories to support my body I shed 20 easy pounds. I'm not guaranteeing miracle weight loss, I'm just trying to put it in perspective. Eat more, weigh less (within reason of course, think the top of your calorie range). No adult should be eating 1000 calories a day or less.
On that note, lets address the fact that not all calories are created equal. Lets say I hit my 1900 calorie goal (yeah ladies, you read that right… I eat almost 2000 calories a day) with junk. I won't look or feel the same as I would if I hit that goal with a healthier diet. The other part of this is eating often. This is just as important as eating enough. I try to shoot for eating something every three hours. Of course life doesn't always allow this, but I've learned the value in at least trying to pack snacks when I leave the house. It's all about setting yourself up for success.
Hopefully you're still with me. Ladies I think this is a lot harder of a concept for us than guys. They're really lucky in the calorie department. Just being a guy means they automatically burn more calories a day than us… not fair. I know this can be a weird concept, but I promise calories are your friends. So, with the power vested in me by the title RD, I give you permission to eat.