It seems like the more research you try to do on nutrition the more confusing it becomes. This is because there are so many people who still believe in the same regurgitated myths that are still floating around from the 80’s and 90’s, and all their BS gets thrown in with the actual science. I’m going to try to clear a few things up for you.
Regardless of your body composition goals, this is the single most important thing you have to worry about. Everyone burns a set number of calories a day, and this number gets split between calories burned doing physical activity and the calories your body needs just to sustain itself.
Taking in a number of calories higher than this total at the end of the day will result in weight gain. So say for simplicity’s sake I burn 2000 calories a day. If I eat 2500 calories a day, those 500 extra calories get stored and I will begin to gain bodyweight.
Taking in a number of calories less than this total at the end of the day will result in weight loss. So let’s say again that I burn 2000 calories a day. If I’m consuming 1500 calories a day, that 500 calorie deficit will cause me to lose bodyweight.
A very common pitfall that many people fall into when trying to start a new diet is putting too much emphasis on what their food is called without really knowing why. In other words, “I know chicken and broccoli is good for me, so I’m gonna eat just that and then I’ll be healthy.” While eating this low calorie food will likely result in weight loss, this will not give you optimal results and eating an arbitrary amount of chicken and broccoli is not a very personalized, methodical approach to weight loss.
What makes your body respond differently to different types of food is the macronutrients contained within those foods. These macronutrients are made up of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. If you know how much of each of these macronutrients you need, this gives you so much more freedom and flexibility to eat a larger variety of foods.
So how do you know how much of everything you need?
A lot of old school nutritionists will break down your macronutrients into percentages. For example, 50% carbs, 30% protein, 20% fats. I find this method to be less than optimal. The percentages of your macros are far less important than the actual individual numbers.
For muscle gain/fat loss goals:
.75-1g protein x lb of bodyweight. For a 200 lb person, this would be 150-200g of protein.This is important because in order to synthesize new muscle tissue, your body needs the building blocks of that muscle tissue: protein.
.4-.6g fats x lb of bodyweight. For a 200 lb person, this would be 80-120g of fat. This is important because studies have shown that these moderate amounts of fat have been shown to be optimal for hormone production, brain function, and a wide variety of other processes within the body.
Fill the rest of your calories with carbs. Once you hit the minimums listed above, you can use carbs or a mix of all three to hit the remainder of your calorie goal. While fats and proteins are essential nutrients to your body, carbs are used primarily for energy so hitting an exact amount is less important.
Not sure how to figure out how many calories and/or macronutrients you need for your specific body and goals? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free nutritional breakdown. Include your bodyweight, height, age, and body composition goals.