I am starting this series of back to the basics to simplify all the information thats out there on nutrition. There is so much information out there and new studies are coming out all the time. All this is great but sometimes it can get a little overwhelming and people spend way to much time reading instead of just starting. Knowledge is great so I definitely recommend reading what you can and learning from the people who have been there and done that but the best advice I can give you is just get started and make adjustments as you go.
First things first lets cover the most important part of every diet, calorie consumption. Simply put if you want to lose weight than you need to eat less calories than you are burning. So basically you need to be in a calorie deficit, there are two ways to do this. You can either exercise more to burn off calories or eat less. If you combine the two, exercise and a proper diet, the results will be that much better. So first you need to figure out how many calories you need to consume to maintain weight. This is called your resting metabolic rate and to calculate that you need to multiply your bodyweight by 12. Now this is just a very general rule of thumb if you have a physically active job than you multiply it by 15. Everyone is different but this will give you a decent base plan to follow. If you want more info on how to set up your diet check out this article I wrote a while back. https://tmnutrition.net/2014/09/diet-guidelines-to-get-you-started
Most if not all nutritionist will echo these sentiments, the thing that causes confusion is a calorie just a calorie. Meaning as long as you are in a deficit you will lose weight so if your diet consist of milk and pop tarts you will still lose weight just the same if it was rice and chicken. Science will say yes that is an accurate statement and I will have to tend to agree with this you will lose weight but will it improve performance or body composition I say no. A calorie is just a calorie is great guide for the general population of people who are looking for an easier route to lose some weight, but for athletes our serious fitness enthusiast a calorie is not just a calorie and the ones you consume do make a huge difference.
Calories are derived from foods of our three macros that give our bodies fuel for our everyday lives. This includes brain function, awareness, body performance, and just all of our everyday occurrences. So with that being said I will have to say common sense will tell you the better you eat the better everything else will perform. We’ve all heard the car analogy and it rings true, our bodies as athletes are high performance machines like a Ferrari and if you want your Ferrari to perform with all cylinders? Yes of course you do so you don’t put cheap oil and cheap gas in it you put the expensive stuff in it. Our bodies are the same way, the more nutrient dense food you feed it the better it performs. Foods that are more than just processed sugars, foods with vitamins and minerals in them, foods that have more complex carbs and better nutrient profiles. So yes a calorie is a calories but if you feed it with the best food it will perform day to day at a high level. If you’re performing at a high level you will burn more calories throughout the workout, you will increase muscle size and endurance, and increase strength. Good calories will also help with recovery so you can workout harder and more often throughout the week. You want to emphasis good quality food to get good quality muscle size and weight loss.
Just a basic overview into calories for weight loss and weight gain. Key take aways are eat whole quality foods over processed junk, calories are calories but to take your body to the next level you need to pay attention to the foods you eat, be consistent week to week and make small adjustments in calories when you hit a plateau. Over the next 3 weeks I will be going over the 3 macros protein, fats, and carbs and explain the value of each one.