There is no secret that fitness and nutrition are prevalent subjects these days. Turn on the TV, read a magazine, or go into any grocery store and you will be inundated with weight loss programs, the next great diet, or food packaging boasting about healthy attributes.
The President’s Council on Fitness & Nutrition posts some staggering facts including that 78 million adults and 12 million children are considered obese. So there really is no question why nutrition is such a popular subject in our media and grocery stores. Fortune Magazine published a recent article stating that in 2014 the weight loss industry had revenues of 64 billion U.S. dollars.
The issue is that the average American, probably being in the majority of that 90 million people does not understand the basis of how to eat healthy. This article is going to serve as your guide to enable you to make the best choices when it comes to eating.
That simple word has become the it word of the last twenty years. A Google search of the word CALORIE generated over seventy eight million results. What is a calorie though? The simple definition is, a calorie is a unit to measure energy. In this instance it is the energy produced by food to fuel your body.
The problem arises because too much focus is put on that calorie count and not enough on its content. Your true success in losing weight and getting healthy will involve the calorie content, not the calorie count. The best part is, once you figure out the calorie content you need, the calorie count automatically falls into place. Now you’re thinking, I just found out the short definition of a calorie. What exactly makes that calorie?
MACRONUTRIENTS, or macros as they are referred to in the fitness industry are the answer. You may not know what they are, but there is a better than average chance you’ve seen them. They are listed on every packaged food label in the grocery store and your kitchen. Macronutrients are three distinct classes of food, PROTEIN, FAT, and CARBOHYDRATE. It is these three building blocks that not only make up your diet but are the content of those calories. Take a look at the chart below to see how many calories come from one gram of each macronutrient.
|PROTEIN||4 calories per gram|
|CARBOHYDRATE||4 calories per gram|
|FAT||9 calories per gram|
With the understanding of the macronutrient calorie content chart above you can effectively create your entire diet. Every nutrition goal from the most seasoned athlete to the average person looking to be healthy should base their diet on those three numbers.
So why should you care about these numbers versus the total amount of calories in your diet? The answer is because not all calories are created equal as you can see. Foods can be promoted as being low in calories, but where are they coming from? A low calorie snack food may just be 100 Calories. However as much as 90% of those calories could come from simple sugars or processed fats. There is actually no real benefit or value for you. This is like having the body of a Corvette with the engine from a moped. It looks great on the outside but performs a lot less than expected.
By basing your diet on calorie content as opposed to calorie count you can not only maintain a healthy weight, but more than likely be able to eat more than you thought.
How should you design your meals to get the most benefit out of the macronutrient calorie content? Any certified trainer should be able to calculate this for you. If you just want a general formula to figure out your macronutrient needs use this guide.
- What is your goal? Choose one: Gain muscle. Lose Weight. Maintain.
- What is your body type?
|Ectomorph||Slender and lean in build. High metabolism|
|Mesomorph||Athletic lean body type. Average metabolism|
|Endomorph||Softer rounder build, overweight to obese. Slow metabolism.|
- The ectomorph diet should get 30-50% of their calories from carbohydrates. This is a ratio of about 1-1.5 grams of carbs per pound body weight. The lower end will help to maintain or moderate weight. The higher end is if your goal is to put on weight through muscle. 30% (1:1) of their calories should come from lean protein. The remainder should be healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats.
- The mesomorph diet should stick with a 30-60% carb ratio (1:1) again depending on their goals and physical activity. Protein should be around 25% or a 1:1 ratio to bodyweight. 180 pounds, 180 grams protein. Fat should come in around 20% or a 0.5:1 ratio to bodyweight.
- The endomorph diet should consume a lower percentage of carbohydrate calories. A good ratio to stick with would be 1:1 while starting a weight loss program and over ten to twelve weeks lowering that to a 0.5:1 carb calorie ratio to bodyweight. Protein should be constant at a 1:1 ratio with fat rounding out at 0.5:1 ratio.
As I stated before, once you dial in your calorie content AKA macronutrients, your calorie count will figure itself out. Take a look at this example.
180 pound male
180 grams carbohydrates equal to 720 calories
180 grams protein equal to 720 calories
90 grams fat equal to 810 calories
So in this example the individual is consuming 2,250 calories per day. Using calorie content through macronutrients as opposed to a general calorie count will likely enable the individual to not only feel fuller throughout the day, but avoid over eating or under eating.