There’s a lot of information out there from people and organizations telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat if you want to lose weight, gain weight, or get healthy. All of that contradictory information makes it difficult to know what you should actually do. Maybe all you need to do is get back to basics.
When it comes to weight loss nutrition is key and calories are king! If you are trying to lose weight it is as important to make sure you are getting enough calories as it is to make sure you aren’t getting too many. People like to throw around 1200 like it is a magic one size fits all number, but that’s not the case. Every body is unique and an ACSM certified personal trainer or exercise physiologist can help you figure out how many calories you should be eating every day.
What is a calorie anyway? A calorie is a unit used to measure energy, specifically a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree celsius. A calorie can be thought of as fuel that comes from macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines put out by the federal government: between 45 and 65 % of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 % from protein, and 20 to 35 % from fat.
As an example: if an individual consumes 2000 Calories per day their daily macronutrient allowance may look something like this –
2000 calories X 60% carbohydrate = 1200 calories of carbohydrate per day
1200 calories / 4 calories per gram = 300 grams of carbohydrate per day
2000 calories X 20% protein = 400 calories of protein per day
400 calories / 4 calories per gram = 100 grams of protein per day
2000 calories X 20% fat = 400 calories of fat per day
400 calories / 9 calories per gram = 44 grams of fat per day
Following these basic rules should help get you to the healthiest weight for you. These guidelines will fuel your workouts and fuel your life. There is no reason to change your diet to compensate for your exercise routine unless you are an athlete training at high intensity for several hours per week – in which case your coach and athletic trainer will provide you with all of the nutritional guidance necessary.
- Always contact your primary care provider for guidance before making any significant changes to your diet. For more information: Health.gov and Heart.org
Anne, B.S. Exercise Physiology
Community Hospital Blog Contributor