I’ve talked about the importance of crowding out sugar, and how to successfully balance your meals (macronutrients). Today I’m tackling weight and calories. I’ll be honest, I don’t care all that much about weight and I NEVER look at calories. Growing up I was the exact opposite. These days I care more about how my clothes fit and how I feel (i.e. minimal bloat, energy, endurance). When I look at nutrition facts, I’m mostly concerned with the ingredients and sugar.
I do care about maintaining my weight, though. When it comes to weight management, balance is key. You have to match your calories to meet your needs. This means balancing the calories from food and beverages with calories burned in normal bodily functions, daily activities, and exercise. It’s important now to understand what a calorie actually is. A calorie is a unit of energy supplied by food. No matter the source- carbohydrates, fats, proteins or sugars – a calorie is a calorie. All food is made up of macronutrients. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, where carbohydrates and protein each contain 4 calories per gram. Alcohol is not a macronutrient, but contains 7 calories per gram. The estimated total calorie needs per day for women is: 1,800-2,400. The estimated amount for men is: 2,400-3,200. Keep in mind that your body is unlike anyone else’s and therefore you need to listen to it and be mindful of how it best functions. There are many factors that contribute to weight, but consistently eating more than you need will result in weight gain.
So now that we understand what a calorie is, what constitutes an ideal weight? According to IIN, the ideal weight for women is 100 pounds + 5 pounds for every inch above 5 feet. So if you are 5’5” you would calculate: 100 + 25 (5×5) = 125 pounds. The ideal weight for men is 106 pounds + 6 pounds for each inch above 5 feet. Typically, being within 10% of this number is considered acceptable, allowing for different body frames. From an intuitive standpoint, the ideal weight for someone is one they feel best at and can safely maintain. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain, here are 10 important things to consider:
- Switch up your beverages. If you need to gain weight, add some protein powder and healthy fats to your smoothie. If you want to lose weight, ditch high-calorie beverages (juices, soda) and drink LOTS of water all throughout the day.
- Eat nutrient-dense food: Eating lots of fiber will help you stay fuller longer. Eat healthy fats (nuts, avocados).
- Limit exposure to additives (look at nutrition labels for this!)
- Manage stress
- Eat mindfully (chew your food! Stay off electronics while you eat)
- Eat breakfast loaded with healthy fats, fiber, protein, and greens!
- Don’t skip meals
- Cook foods at home
- Prioritize sleep
If I can leave you with one parting piece of advice it’s this: watch your carbohydrates. This is something I need to constantly tell myself! Eat your greens, protein, and yes, FAT, but watch the carbs. Why? Carbohydrates drive fat accumulation. How? First, we secrete the hormone insulin (which is the primary regulator of fat accumulation in fat tissue) in response to carbohydrates. Then, insulin works to fix fat in the fat cells and tells the lean tissue to burn the carbohydrates, not the fat. So, we burn carbohydrates first and store the fat. If insulin stays elevated (which happens in insulin resistance), we may never get around to burning all the fat we stored with the meal, and so the fat accumulates. If you want to regulate fat accumulation, remove foods from your diet starting with carbohydrates. If you want further information on carbohydrates see my blog post dedicated to it here.
Food for thought: What’s your relationship with your body in terms of weight? Try ditching the scale! Also, if looking at nutrition labels, don’t worry about the calories! Rather, make sure you’re eating real, whole foods that make you feel good!
P.S. Last weekend we ran the Long Beach half marathon! I felt great throughout the run and fully attribute that to the changes in nutrition I’ve made!