Eating to Fuel Your Workout and Your Goals: Part 2

By now you’ve have a week to digest what was said in “Eating for Your Fitness and Goals” and have even had a chance to evaluate your current diet (if you haven’t yet I suggest starting a 7 day food and exercise log today to see where you compare in your macronutrient composition). So let’s say you have done a food log and you have evaluated and you realized that your carbs were too low and your fat was too high for example, but now what? You know the percentages of each macronutrient that you should be consuming, but that is a percentage of what?

Eating to Fuel Your Workout and Your Goals: Part 2 is about to go into how you figure your caloric needs daily, and more specifically what kind of deficit or gain you need based on your current diet and your goals.

When it comes to meeting or going above the national exercise recommendations of 3-5X a week of cardio, 2-3X a week of strength and flexibility, exercising a minimum of 150 minutes a week, your diet needs become more advanced and, hefty, than you would think. There is a way to figure out just how many calories you specifically need to have in a day, and I’m just gonna take a stab in the dark here and say that you will realize it is actually more than you thought, or might even be comfortable with.

For example, when I first started using MyFitnessPal it calculated my daily caloric needs at 1,700 kcal a day based on my age, height, gender, and weight. I quickly learned that that was far too low for my heavy lifting, half marathon training, and sometimes 2-a-days that I pull, it just didn’t realize how active I am. SO it is okay to adjust your caloric goals on those apps to tailor to you more specifically.

OKAY, lets get down to it. My nutrition professor gave us a few different equations to use to find daily caloric needs that include activity level, I will show you one below:

Calorie Needs

Harris-Benedict Equation:

  • Adult male REE (resting energy expenditure):
    • 66.5 + 13.7 X (weight in kg) +5.0 X (height in centimeters) – 6.8 X (age)
  • Adult female REE:
    • 655 + 9.6 X (weight in kg) + 1.8 X (height in centimeters) – 4.7 X (age)
  • Multiply your REE by your activity factor:
    • 1.2= bed rest
    • 1.3= low activity
    • 1.5-1.75= average activity
    • 2.0-2.4= highly active
  • Conversions to note:
    • Weight in lbs to weight in kilograms= weight in lbs/ 2.2
    • Height in inches to height in centimeters= height in inches X 2.54

As I said earlier, my fitness pal had me needing 1,700 kcal a day, which I followed for a short while. After doing my equation: [ 655 + 9.6(70kg)+1.8(177.8cm)-4.7(22)= 1,548.34 kcal REE ] X 2 (activity factor)= 3,096 kcal/day.

WOW that’s a big difference! See why its important to know your body? Now since I am not in the interest of gaining or maintaining year round, I do not consume 3,000 calories a day. On my lower activity days when my activity factor is more towards 1.5 I consume 2,000 calories and on my heavier days I get up to 2,500 but usually not more. My reasoning for this is not that I’m always trying to lose weight, but rather I’m just trying to stay healthy, 3,000 calories is just physically too much for my body to handle.

Food Timing:

When you start eating more calories than you used to you also need to change your eating pattern. If I were to consume 2,000- 2,500 calories a day at only 3 meals a day I would have between 600 and 850 calories at every meal. Sure, the average meal consists of 500-1,000 calories, but I would rather not push the higher end. My personal preference is the rule of thumb of eating every 3-4 hours OR as I am hungry. I find that I am hungry after 3 and ½ hours anyway, so this works for me, eating this often prevents my body from going into “starvation mode”. What I mean by this is that having a consistent and constant flow of macronutrients into my body, it is not trying to trick itself into storing extra carbs for example for energy later because it thinks that it is about to go multiple hours without energy. Again, remember this is personal preference

Keep in Mind:

  • As you start to figure out your personal caloric needs keep in mind that exercise is not the only way for your body to spend calories. This is what your energy balance looks like where macronutrients are on the left and energy expenditure is on the right. TEF stands for thermal effect of food, which is the energy your body uses to break down food, and RMR stands for resting metabolic rate and is the amount of energy your body uses just to keep you alive and breathing. View this image as a teeter-totter. For weight maintenance; you should view it as even, for weight loss; the right side should be lower for more calories use, for weight gain; the left side should be lower for more calories consumed.

Calorie+Balance+Image

  • If weight loss is your goal you should strive for a 300-500 calorie deficit each day NOT a 1,000+ deficit. Also, only expect to lose .5 to 2 lbs at most a week and know that once your body adapts to changes, your rate of progress will decrease
  • It takes time keep it up, keep it positive, and most importantly keep it smart!
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