Nutrition and Tracking Hints and Tips
Nutrition and Tracking
You may have come across the saying, “You can’t out train a bad diet” or “abs are made in the kitchen”. Nutrition is often the part that people find the most difficult but it is the key to fat loss and a change in body composition. They make it too complicated, they follow fad diets or fad ideas. They grossly overestimate how many calories they burn in the gym and hugely underestimate how many calories they are consuming. A recent survey showed that the average British adult underestimates their daily caloric intake by 50%!
You can train all day long, but if your nutrition is terrible, not only will you have side effects from poor food consumption (i.e. not enough micronutrients) such as fatigue, poor gut health, bloating, skin conditions etc. but you will never lose any excess fat you are trying to shed.
Calories in vs calories out. A caloric deficit is the ONLY way to reduce body fat. You must expend more calories than you consume to create a deficit.
Exercising will of course increase the calories out factor, allowing you to either eat more calories OR reduce fat at a faster pace. Nutrition and exercise combined is your greatest tool for effective, long lasting fat loss and change in body composition.
There are so many fad diets around nowadays. Those who tell you not to consume carbs, to drink skinny teas, eat appetite suppressing lollipops, detox the body, have points or syns for certain food groups….I’m here to tell you that yes they all work, but why?!! Because you are creating a CALORIE DEFICIT! Most of the fad diets are not healthy, not sustainable and certainly not magic!
So, how do you go about creating a calorie deficit that is sustainable, accurate and enjoyable? (Yes you can lose fat and not be miserable!)
You learn! You learn about nutrition, you learn about food groups, their calorific values, how your body responds to them and you follow a plan of flexible dieting! You calculate your BMR and TDEE. This will tell us how many calories your body burns at rest and how many calories you need to sustain your current weight (maintenance calories). This will allow us to create a calorie deficit that is specific to YOU.
Food is broken down into 3 main macronutrient groups which have calories per gram as follows:
Proteins 4 cals per gram
Fats 9 cals per gram
Carbohydrates 4 cals per gram
So by tracking the food you eat on an app such as My Fitness Pal, you are able to track the amount of calories you consume and the macro breakdown. To maintain muscle mass we want to ensure we eat enough protein and to lose fat we need to create a calorie deficit. Aside from this, macro breakdowns are personal to you. Some people feel better on higher carbs and others on higher fats.
Your next step is to download My Fitness Pal. It can be quite time consuming when you begin but I promise it gets easier! The app will save foods that you input so over time it gets easier to quickly add the foods you frequently eat. You can also use it to create recipes.
Remember tracking your food is not forever. It is a tool to help you learn and understand about food and YOUR body
Ensure you are tracking everything! This includes fruit and veg, oils and sauces, any small bites of anything and all your drinks!
Try to eat a variety of foods so plenty of meat, fish, dairy, grains, fruit and veg
NO food is off limits! But you do HAVE to track it! So if you eat cake, that’s fine, but be aware that you will have less calories to eat at your next meal! You will quickly decide what is worth splurging calories over and what isn’t!
It can be hard and time consuming when you first start but it will get easier. Take it one day at a time and celebrate the small victories
Track as you go through the day. You will not remember everything you ate that day and the quantities by nightfall. If you have a busy day, input your food the night before so you can easily track what you will be eating the next day
Plan, plan, plan. If you are hungry and caught off guard you will grab whatever is closest to you and convenient. This will usually be high in calories! Have foods to hand that will fit your goals and meal prep if you are on the go!
If you do go over your calories one day, don’t give up! One bad day will not derail your progress. Don’t let it affect you, pull up your big girl pants and get back to it tomorrow!
Although I prefer you to stick to your calories each day for simplicity, if you know you have a special event upcoming that you want to be able to eat a little more or have a drink at then work it into your week. Total calories over the week is what matters
Ensure you are eating enough. Trying to stay under your calorie intake and thinking this will fuel your weight loss further is a HUGE mistake! Your body will respond with negative metabolic adaptations and you will no longer lose weight on what should be a deficit. Food is fuel, your body needs it to function so fuel it well!