It's not what you eat but how much!

There's been a lot of talk this week about red meats and bacon being carcinogenic, but really this is the tip of the iceberg. Every day we're faced with a barrage of media saying "Eat this, don't eat that." and then the following week it all changes. 

It's no wonder everyone looks a little bemused by the concept of losing weight.

Eat what you like!

so, rather controversially, I'm going to simplify this, and unequivocally state that in the majority of cases "It does not matter what food you eat", it purely comes down to consuming less calories than you need, to achieve weight loss. 

Sure, we're all different and some of us will feel and perform better on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, others will do better on the inverse, but weight loss and gain really boil down to one simple fact; your body having more or less calories than required to maintain your current body weight each day.

At this point, most of you have probably stopped reading and are head first in the biscuit barrel. Now, don't get me wrong, a little of what you want is definitely a good thing, but personally I'd still opt for getting the majority of my calories for nutrient dense unprocessed, healthy foods.  

Why? For two very simple reasons:

1. My body feels and performs better on a diet of natural unprocessed vegetables, lean meats, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. 

2. I like to eat. Nutrient dense food tends to be lower in calories, therefore I can eat way more food each day. 

It's also important to avoid getting caught out with predetermined expectations. All of the below pictures feature 200 calories of food or drink:

From left to right:

  • 496ml Coca Cola
  • 83g Dried apricots
  • 52g Glazed Donut
  • 328g Kiwi

Images from wisegeek.com. 

Track Everything!

So, this brings us onto the next piece of this puzzle, knowing how many calories you've consumed.

Now, if you're like me you'll probably hate the idea of logging every calorie. Well the good news is there are ways and means to simplify this.

Approach one:

MyFitnessPal.com

I love routine, I do also like change, but a bit of structure can give a real sense of control and consistency, and these two words are paramount to any successful diet. 

MyFitnessPal has a great facility for creating meals and even copying a previous day.

Now, I tend to have a set list of different breakfasts and snacks each week, which means I only really need to create new meals for lunch and dinner.This makes my life very easy and gives me an exact record of my calories. 

I'd also advise setting yourself a calorie target of 100 calories either side of your daily target. The reason I suggest this is because it's almost impossible to be exactly on track every day and your diet really should be about the bigger picture.

For example a day or even a week. This doesn't mean eating all your calories on a Monday and starving until the next week. It means some times you may indulge a little and be slightly over your target for the day and some days you'll be slightly under, it comes down to working towards a sense of consistency, without restricting yourself or obsessing too much.  

APPROACH Two:

Portion Control

This is somewhat of a crude method, but it works for some and it helps to prevent overeating to a degree. 

The guys at Precision Nutrition have kindly put together a simple infographic which details a handy method for using your hands to measure your proteins carbohydrates and fat within each meal. 

It also gives you a rough of idea of what each measurement equates to in grams and calories. 

Tip: Click the picture to see the full infographic.

How many calories?

Onto the final piece of the puzzle, how to work out exactly how many calories you need? 

If you want to do it the ol' fashion way, follow the instruction on a previous post: uncomplicated calories.

Alternatively, a couple of simple and automated tools you can use are: 

Flexible Diet

You'll find the calculator in the top right corner of the webpage. The rest is fairly set explanatory.

I also like that it tells you your suggested intake for carbohydrates, fibre, fats and proteins.  

MyFitnessPal goal setting

One of the other benefits of MyFitnessPal is that under the 'My Home' option on the main navigation, there is a link to the goals section. 

Here you can enter your calorie intake for the day, or it'll calculate it according to your goals. E.g. Lose 1lb or gain 1lb. 

My advice here would be to amend your macro ratio's to:

  • 40% Carbohydrates
  • 30% Fats
  • 30% Protein

Especially, if you're exercising with weights. The default settings are a little low on protein. 

Finding it hard to manage your nutrition?

Get in touch, Emotiv PT has an exclusive nutrition Facebook group. It's a safe place to:

  • Ask advice
  • Inspire others
  • Share food and recipes 
  • Learn new things. 

As always, if you've got any questions, just ask...