Imagine a person who has a marathon to run. That person wakes up, has a coffee, 2 serving sizes of Gluten Free Oatmeal, 1/4 cup of blueberries, 1/4 cup of blackberries, 1/4 cup of raw cashews, a teaspoon of raw honey and an apple for breakfast. On top of that, the same person had an above average size healthy dinner the night before.
Now imagine a person who eats the same thing. Even though the food listed above is healthy for you, if you do not have a marathon to run or a day filled with intense activity, it’s just too much food.
Your first lesson in calorie intake is to eat for the activity level of the day. Not only that, eat for your size and body type.
For example someone who is 5’4” 150 pounds should not be consuming the same amount of food/calories as 6’1” 200 pound person. Unless it is your goal to become 200 pounds yourself.
Your second lesson is to recognize and acknowledge that food is fuel and nothing more. Food is a source of energy to push/pull us through the day. Your body burns food/calories/fuel while performing essential body functions like breathing. Your body burns more food/calories/fuel at a faster rate when you perform exercises like walking, running, weight lifting or swimming.
When it comes to burning calories a common mistake is to over estimate how many calories you burned and convince yourself you can eat that box of cookies (empty calories) because you went for a run. More often than not we get this wrong and end up in a caloric surplus (eating more calories than you burn) opposed to a caloric deficit (burning more calories than you consumed) which is necessary for weight loss.
If your goal is to lose weight you must track your calories. Studies show that those who log their calories lose more weight and keep the weight off in the long run. There are so many fun and easy to use apps these days for counting calories. We recommend MyFitnessPal. You can set goals based on your height, weight and activity level. You can log your calories and even your workouts.
Tip: Stay away from subtracting workout calories from your total calorie consumption, unless you are performing extremely intense activities like a marathon.
Fun fact: Eating 150 extra calories a day can add 5 pounds to your body in only 6 months. What do you mean extra ? You’ve eaten 2,500 calories and burned 2,350 calories. You are in a caloric surplus of 150 calories.
That is all for now. Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will address the specifics of how many calories you should be eating and a real life example of what we mean.