Gaining and losing weight comes down to energy. Your body uses calories for energy. If your body is taking in more calories than it is burning, it will gain weight. If your body is taking in fewer calories than it is burning, it will lose weight. It comes down to energy in vs. energy out.
So where do calories come from?
Calories come from three different macronutrients that are in the foods that we eat. Below you'll find detailed information on these macronutrients as well as other nutrients that are important to your health.
Protein is an essential macronutrient. This means you need it to survive. Protein is made up of 20 amino acids, 11 of which your body can produce and 9 of which are essential. The essential amino acids are Leucine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Valine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Methionine, and Tryptophan.
Consuming 1-1.4g of protein per pound of lean body mass has been shown to be safe while benefiting performance.
Protein contains 4 calories per gram and is found in food sources such as meats, seafood, poultry, dairy, eggs, and legumes.
Unlike protein, carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient which means they are not needed for survival, although they heavily contribute to energy levels, performance, recovery, and muscle growth. So when it comes to your training at Poehlmann Fitness, carbs are a good thing. :)
Carbohydrates can be categorized into two different subdivisions:
Simple Carbohydrates - Monosaccharides and Disaccharides (basically sugars)
Complex Carbohydrates - Oligosaccharides and Polysaccharides (commonly found in grains)
Although all carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, our bodies process each type of carbohydrate differently.
Common sources of carbohydrates are grains, fruits, vegetables, and sugary foods.
Just like protein, fat is an essential macronutrient and needs to be consumed. One of the reasons it's so important is because vitamins A,D,E, and K can only be absorbed if fat is present.
The four types of categories of fats are saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and usually found in vegetable oil. Saturated fats are more solid at room temperature like a stick of butter.
Trans fats (man-made fats) have been shown to be unhealthy and can cause inflammation. No need to get paranoid about them, though. We'll get into that.
Unlike protein and carbohydrates, fat has 9 calories per gram.
Common sources of fats are oils, butter, nuts, seeds, fatty meats, full fat dairy, and eggs.
Let's see what applying all of this knowledge looks like!
Thermodynamics and Tracking Macros
Here's a quote by Zig Ziglar to keep in mind: "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."
Now that you understand macronutrients and why they're important, it's time to apply all of this information. So let's go back to what we were going over earlier - energy.
As mentioned before, your body will gain weight if it's taking in more calories than it uses, and lose weight if it's taking in fewer calories than it uses.
Knowing that, it's important that you keep track of your macronutrient intake especially when you are trying to reach a specific goal. Think of your calories and macros like a financial budget. Spending too much will lead you to be broke, while saving and investing will lead you to wealth. Tracking your spending, saving, and investing will tell you how close or far you are in relation to your financial goals.
Remember, each macronutrient contains a certain amount of calories per gram.
Proteins - 4 cal/gramFats - 9 cal/gramCarbohydrates - 4 cal/gram
So, the only thing you'll really need to be tracking is your macronutrient intake! If you track your macronutrients, you'll be tracking your calories, too.
And thanks to technology, tracking your macronutrients is simple. At Poehlmann Fitness, MyFitnessPal is the app of choice. With easy-to-use features like the barcode scanner, tracking food has never been easier. MyFitnessPal will also sync with your Trainerize profile, displaying your food intake for the day while showing you how close you are to your daily targets.
So how do daily targets work?
Each week (for Premier Coaching) or each month (for Custom Coaching), your coach will give you a set amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that you'll aim to eat each day. For example, your coach may assign you 150 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbohydrates, and 50 grams of fat. Your goal is to hit those numbers each day with the food you eat. You can easily monitor this in MyFitnessPal on the macro chart (we'll get into this later).
Let's put this into a real-life example.
It's 6pm and Susie has been tracking her macronutrient intake for the day. She gets a phone call from a friend to go out for an appetizer. Susie gets to the restaurant and knows what she wants. So, she checks where her macronutrient intake is for the day and makes sure that what she gets doesn't take her over her goal. She has 10 grams of protein, 50 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of fat left. So she goes into MyFitnessPal and sees that the spinach artichoke dip at this restaurant fits within those numbers.
Let's look at another example. Susie gets the same call to go out for food but HASN'T been tracking her intake for the day. Little does she know that she has already consumed 20 extra grams of fat for the day and her food of choice is going to put her at 25 grams over for the day. Is it a crisis that she didn't track? Absolutely not. Will she gain excess body fat because she didn't track for that one day? Probably not. However, her lack to track that day caused her to eat over her goal. One day won't hurt her by any means, but a consistent habit of neglecting her tracking may lead to frequent days like this one.
So, your macronutrients are like a monetary budget. If you make $60,000/year, it would not be smart for you to buy a $50,000 car. The same goes for your macronutrients. If you have 200 grams of carbohydrates for the day, it wouldn't be wise of you to use 150 grams of those carbs on Dortios and Pop Tarts. Can you? Sure, go nuts. But now you're going to have to figure out where to get a bunch of protein and fats without going over your carbohydrate goal. Also, your body will most likely feel horrible if you decide to do that.
If you make $60,000/year and live off of $40,000, you can save a bunch and treat yourself to a nicer car. Same for your food. If you use 100 grams of your carbs on whole food sources, you have some room with your protein and fat, and you want some ice cream later at night, GO FOR IT!
Don't want ice cream because you'd rather have a glass of wine? Awesome, let's talk about alcohol.
NEXT: - Tracking Alcohol --->