One of the biggest challenges facing “dieters” is actually counting calories.
Yes, you must actually count the calories to an extent to know what you are putting in your body. The basic solution to weight loss is to burn more calories than you take in. First thing to understand is not to take that statement to literally. Meaning, you do not go burn off 500 calories on the treadmill and 700 in the weight room for a total of 1,200 calories and that is all you take in at the most.
We have to understand that we have a resting metabolism too. We will burn calories at rest just to maintain normal body functions. We all have different kinds of metabolisms some slow and some fast. You must start tracking your calorie intake so while you also exercise so you can monitor changes. This process takes time for your body to adjust. Be patient in the process, because you are trying to teach your body how to change to a lean, tone body and it does not happen overnight.
Calories are the most important thing to consider but we must know how we count them. Did you know that different foods contain different types of calories? For example, we talk about fat a lot. Food is broken down into various types of calories, such as fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Those fats, carbs, and proteins are represented by grams.
Those grams each have different levels of caloric values. A gram of fat is equal to nine calories, while a gram of protein and carbohydrates is only equal to only four calories. That is why they say fat is “calorie dense.”
Some experts might say all that matters is calories and there is simply more to it than that. Fat for example, can have healthy unsaturated fat that should be used for good health in moderation. Saturated fat is the bad fat that contributes to heart disease and other health problems and should never exceed 10 percent of your total calories.
Carbohydrates are broken down into complex carbs, simple sugars, and fiber. Carbohydrates are considered are primary source of energy. Our brain runs off of blood glucose and oxygen so we do need carbohydrates.
Beyond that we also have carbohydrates that are high glycemic versus carbs that are lower glycemic. That simply means that carbs we rate as higher glycemic tend to convert into sugar in the blood much faster and they are not always simple sugars to begin with. These high glycemic carbs also tend to leave with the lows in your blood sugar a couple of hours later after you eat them. They tend to lack fiber as well.
Fiber is indigestible material that helps control blood sugar and keeps us regular. A high fiber diet is helpful in lowering cholesterol and contributes to a healthier heart consequently. Fiber should be 25-35 grams a day although most Americans eat only about 10 grams per day. So although fiber is considered a type of carbohydrate we do not restrict it in terms of calories because it does not really contribute to the total calories since it is considered indigestible material.
Protein also contains four calories per gram but does many more things for the body that carbohydrates do not do even though the calories are the same. Protein is what we use to build, repair, and maintain every tissue of the body. Our hair, nails, teeth, skin, vital organs, and of course muscles need protein to repair. People that exercise and cause tissue trauma from heavy exercise need a little more than the average sedentary adult. Especially, if they are cutting fat and carb calories by reducing fast foods, soft drinks, and sweets.
Cutting protein calories is usually not necessary. Protein contributes to muscle tone and it is very unlikely that we will over eat it. Protein can fill you up much better and allow you to control your calories much better than simply counting calories. For example, grill some chicken and toss it in a spinach salad with cucumbers, low-fat cheese, tomatoes and a light vinegar and oil and you will have a super healthy dinner.
You could eat two cups of white rice and your calories would be about as the chicken salad but your nutrient levels would be no where near the same and you would be more likely to be hungry after the rice only dinner.
I am not suggesting cutting ALL carbs but just be conscious of how many you eat. Most Americans are completely unaware of their total calories and if they will right down how many grams of carbs, fats, and proteins they consume and then convert them into calories they can start seeing where they are lacking of going over board with their types of calories. It is not as simply as cutting out one food group. Pay attention to how many servings are in the foods you eat. For example, it might have 10 grams of protein, five grams of carbs, and eight grams of fat for a total of 132 calories per serving, but the container has three servings in it so you have to take all those numbers and triple them.
I suggest keeping a diary and dividing each meal into columns of protein, carbs, fats, and calories. At the end of the day you can add them up together and see where you are. I recommend never going below 1,200 calories for women and 1,800 for men. Understand I also expect these individuals to exercise as part of this so those calories recommendations are minimum levels, not maximum levels. Everyone is an individual; I want my clients to be equipped with the knowledge of how to adjust their needs as they change.
Start keeping your journal and get to the gym today.