One of the most frequent complaints I hear is that people are “eating really well” but their body isn’t changing. So I ask what they are eating. It’s things like Orange Juice and Cereal or an English Muffin for breakfast, and “you know, just a little bit of pasta and it was whole grain” for dinner. Sometimes it happens that important people like doctors and trainers and nutritionists have told clients to eat this way, so why aren’t they changing? For the record, no one ever tells me they regularly feast on pizza, meatball subs, and beer.
First things first. The most important thing that you have to understand about food is that it’s fuel for your body. Giving your body the wrong mixture is about as helpful as diesel-ing up your gas eating car. You’ve gotta give your body what it needs or it won’t go, or if it does in fact go, it won’t be very efficient at it. Turns out, being successful with your body goals isn’t just about “calories in vs. calories out.”
Here’s a crash course on the macronutrients (The “biggies” that your body needs in considerable quantities.) There are 3 of them.
Protein: I spend a lot of time talking about protein on this blog, and for good reason. It is the most important because without protein your body cannot repair its tissues. That means no muscle repair, bone growth, or wound healing, among other things. Every living tissue requires protein. Each gram of protein has 4 calories, and you want approximately 40% of your calories to come from protein. (I’ll be talking more about each of these in a later post!)
Fat: If you lived through the 80’s, you remember the low fat craze– where we all assumed “low fat” meant healthy. But fat has important work to do. Among other things it transports fat soluble vitamins, and is a dense form energy. It has 9 calories per gram, and should account for 20-30% of your diet. I’ll talk more in another post about the kinds of fat you should be eating and some other important things it does.
Carbs: Carbs have become thoroughly villianized to the point where a lot of people are shocked when I say I recommend them. While I’ll go into more detail in a later post, for right now, understand that carbs are your body’s quick energy source. Two problems with carbs that most people don’t understand: 1) Everything that is not a fat or a protein is a carb. That means your green beans and your grapefruit as well as your morning toast are all carbs. 2)Your body is very thrifty. If it can’t use what you’re giving it, it’s going to save it for a rainy day. I had a friend in college who named her love handles “Ben” and “Jerry” after her favorite ice cream. Turns out she was right on! Carbs have 4 calories per gram, and depending on your lifestyle should make up 30-40% of your caloric intake, depending on how active you are! If you’re a butt sitter for most of your day, you do not need as many carbs as someone who is on their feet all day!
When you start running the numbers of what people are actually eating when they say they are eating healthily, it usually winds up that they are eating 60% (or more) of their calories in the form of carbs! Side note: this is where you really need a meal plan put together for you by someone who understands! If you’re not seeing progress, it’s likely because your nutrition doesn’t match your needs.
My trainer and I have this conversation with our clients so many times, that he finally made a vlog about it. There’s a lot of great information in it, so it’s totally worth the watch! (Why should you take him seriously? 1) He’s the one who taught me what I needed to know so I could lose 100lbs. 2) He’s 61. And looks like that.) You can check out the vlog Here.
Think when it comes to weight loss and making progress, it’s only about how you eat and how hard you work. Check back tomorrow for the element you may be missing!