Nutrition

The truth about calories – stop treating them like the plague!

By April 3, 2018 April 27th, 2018 No Comments
If you’re one of those people who avoid calories like the plague, I’m going to put your mind at ease today.
Let’s start with: what the heck is a calorie?
A calorie is  a unit of energy. All the food that we eat has macro-nutrients (aka macros). Macros are your fats, proteins and carbs, and those macros are the nutrients that give your body calories. Vitamins and minerals don’t have calories. Calories are where our body gets energy and this is how our body functions. We need calories for all of our bodily functions from breathing to moving to burning fat. In short, a calorie is a measurement of energy within the body.

Where do calories come from? They come from food. You have a different amount of calories for each macro. A carbohydrate is going to give you 4 units of energy, 4 calories. Same for protein, a gram of protein equals 4 calories. Fat yields 9 calories per gram. So why do we have to look at how many calories we eat? Based on your goals, if you are looking to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit meaning you need to burn more calories than you take in.  Because the calories that aren’t being used are going to be stored as weight. Not necessarily as fat but as weight. If you’re working out it will help you to store muscle, which means to gain lean tissue/muscle you need to be in a caloric surplus (eating more calories than you burn).

So, say you see on the internet that this girl eats ice chips for lunch and she eats 1000 calories a day and looks like you want to look, so you think 1000 calories a day is good for you because that’s how you want to look, right? WRONG.  Determining calories is a math equation. It’s not just going on the internet to see how many calories that person takes in in a day and then adopting that as your own.

Determining the right amount of calories for you involves many different components including: body type, height, weight, age, gender, activity level and goals. All of those things together will produce the amount of calories you should be consuming in a day. If you’re not active at all and you have a pretty sedentary lifestyle, you won’t need nearly as many calories as someone who works out six days a week. You might have the same goal, and might want to lose weight, but someone who works out six days a week versus someone who is sedentary are going to have very different caloric needs even though they are both going to be in a caloric deficit.

I see people all of the time on the internet who say “I eat 500 calories a day” or “I eat 800 or 1000 calories a day.” Going too far into a caloric deficit is starving your body and when you starve your body, it’s not going to function properly. When your body is in starvation mode it’s going to hold onto fat. It isn’t healthy, no matter how you look at it. You might drop some weight but it isn’t healthy and you are likely ruining your metabolism. As a general rule I never want to see another woman go below 1200 calories a day. If you’re under doctor supervision, please listen to the doctor and not me. I’m talking to the everyday person that does not have a medical need to be under 1200 calories a day. Now men, you should never go below 1500 calories a day.  Your body needs a baseline of calories to function, to breathe, to pump your heart, to pump blood, and to move.

You need calories to survive. You need calories to live your everyday life. You just need the right amount of calories. 
If you have any questions at all, please reach out to me and I can help you figure out what you need to be successful. 
CoachSarah@gem-fitness.com

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