As a personal trainer, I looooove it when clients come in for a workout and their response to my daily question of “what did you eat” is something like “5 saltines, 2 tablespoons of Peanut Butter, and a banana. Oh, and I had a yogurt.”
I try not to actually make the face palm gesture, but I can promise you I’m making it in my head. In their defense, they genuinely don’t know… just like I didn’t know. And this is a great place for me to begin talking about nutrition and get them started on a good path towards their goals.
So, let’s start with this basic understanding: Food is Fuel. Nothing more, nothing less. Do you ask your car to keep driving for miles and miles after the “Hey, idiot! Get some gas” light comes on? You might have done it once or maaaaybe twice, but after that you realize that’s a battle you’re just not going to win. And it gets pretty inconvenient!
If you’re not expecting your car to do the miraculous, why are you asking your body to do it? Plain and simple, if you’re not eating the calories your body needs, it cannot function properly. (Helllloooo fad diets!) Undereating is just as bad as over eating. I mentioned in an earlier post that your body has something called a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories it takes to keep your body alive at rest. If you’re eating below this number– and if you don’t know yours, ask a good trainer– your body will go into starvation mode. And because it thinks you’re not going to feed it again, it’s going to save everything it can, which is going to make weight loss even harder. But worse, your body is also going to start shutting down vital functions like…you know… wound healing. And since your brain is the #1 glucose hog in your body, you’re going to have a hard time thinking. And if you’ve never experienced a “bonk” during a workout, just try training without enough fuel for the workout. Good times!
I can’t stress it enough– having (and following!) a meal plan is absolutely the most important step in achieving your goals. If the person who does this for you is good, a meal plan will be based on your caloric needs, and will include macro and micro nutrient breakdowns appropriate for you. This is NOT a one sized fits all deal. And if someone tells you to eat about 700 calories a day, unless that is a medically supervised plan, run!
Think a diet means no fun, no taste, and no cheating? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!