Figure out your food

So many times, I have clients or prospective clients who tell me “I’m working out so hard.  I burn so many calories.  I wear my heart rate monitor and I STILL gain weight” <or> “I’m still so skinny”.

We’ve talked about the importance of figuring out YOUR OWN UNIQUE FORMULA for calorie burn, adding back in half of the calories that you burn when you workout.  But most women will still ignore me, cutting calories and adding in their wine at night.  Yes, you may be low carb.  But you blow it at night with alcohol.  Let’s understand something.  You will GET FAT if you do not eat the proper amount of calories (if you fad diet or drop your calorie consumption).  You will also GET FAT if you overeat.

Cutting calories for a prolonged period of time can lead to metabolic damage.  Your body goes into starvation mode and slows down all of its processes in order to “survive” on the calories you are giving it.  And then, when girls freak out that they’re not eating enough, they suddenly eat up to the generic universal formula for their height and weight, observing all healthy parameters and they STILL gain weight.  Why?  Because in starvation mode, ALL FOOD is stored as body fat.  Hormones can mess with this, diets can mess with this…

Yes.  At the end of the day, it IS calories in and calories out.  Yet, what matters most is the macronutrient profile of your food.

Say what? 

The macronutrient profile of food refers to the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat contained in the food you eat.  If you are tracking your food on an application like Lose It, My Fitness Pal… They will automatically track the amount of macronutrients in your food and produce a pie chart at the end of the day, allowing you to see the percentages of your macronutrients in your meals.

There’s a lot of contradicting beliefs out there as to what your macronutrient profile should look like.  I like mine to be somewhere around 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% fats.  I have experimented for years with altering the percentages and this is where MY BODY feels the best.  Some people like to be 50% carb, 30%protein, 20% fats.  (Usually my guy clients reflect this when they lift and are crazy cardio as well)  I recommend that all of my clients start somewhere around 40-40-20 (P-C-F) and see how they feel.

Weight Watchers and similar programs dummy this down for you by assigning points, but it’s pretty simple to learn it for yourself…so that you can modify it if and when your needs change (pregnancy, menopause, injury, goal changes).  Generally speaking, you’d mess around with your profile as your life changes to better serve your nutritional needs.

Proteins BUILD muscle.  Carbs give immediate energy.  Fats repair tissue and offer recovery.  So, If I’m doing a race, I may up my carbs the day before or front load my macros to carb load before the race, but then taper them as the day continues to keep myself within my goal range.  If I’m injured, I make sure to tweak my good fats a little bit more to insure that I recover quickly.

Each person will have their own unique formula here too.  Some people operate well on a lot of protein, but some of my clients experience gastro-intestinal upset or they feel joint pain if their fats dip below a certain percentage that would normally be higher than mine.  However, because they track their food, they can go back and see where they “went wrong” with diet and tweak accordingly.  Likewise, it’s easier for these clients to adapt to a sustained injury (which takes them out of the gym for a bit) by tweaking their carb intake because they no longer need the workout fuel for a strenuous workout.

My goal as a trainer is never to hand you a cookie cutter meal plan or food plan that is all one-sided and all the same across the board.  Your food plan should be as diverse as your workout plan to fortify all body systems.  If you eat the same thing every day and follow the same plan year in and year out, your body’s homestasis kicks in.  Essential nutrients may be lacking because you don’t eat diversely enough. Your energy may start to dip.  You stop seeing results.   This is what we call a “plateau”.

Start tracking your food today.  Notice how many carbs and proteins you eat and how altering WHEN you eat them can have an effect on your energy levels.

I’ll start to address this in future posts.

As always, reach out and comment with any questions or clarification.




One thought on “Figure out your food

  1. Just great to read this. I never get tired of this topic. Calories in calories out is just the beginning. When you start “timing” your food for maximum performance, you’ll reach levels of energy that are just unimaginable. Then that energy feeds your workouts and you become perpetual motion machine.


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