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When It's Time To Eat...Eat!

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Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 11:20PM

Do you know that the easiest way to lose body fat is no big secret, yet - it is the biggest hurdle everyone encounters when taking the blundering leap into fitness. As a strength coach, I have witnessed the mistake(s) athletes and everyday people make when trying to take inches off their waists and hips. I've watched them doing endless sets of crunches and hips ab/adducting with the hope of trying to tighten up those problem areas. The truth is, spot reduction is not possible. So, what is the secret to toning up? Read on.

The secrets are calorie consumption, macronutrient proportions and time schedule. Yes - just learn the simple little lesson from this article and you will be on your way to a leaner, healthier body without buying any money wasting gimmicks. Beware of products that bind fat in the digestive system. These products do stop dietary fat from being digested. The biggest problem is, they also inhibit the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,&K) from getting absorbed into the body as well. Consequently, there are the inevitable maladies associated with vitamin deficiencies. Well, enough of the "bad stuff", let's get to the good stuff!

Many times when people start on a nutrition program, they believe that they have to decrease their caloric intake (consumption). Sometimes this is true - but not always. There are people who consume too many calories (energy intake) and store fat because they did not perform enough activity to balance the calories used (energy output). There is also the situation where people reduce their calorie consumption to the point where the body?s metabolic rate adjusts itself to preserve what fat it has left. This is a survival mechanism built into the organism (your body) -- great if you are stranded on a desert island but not very effective when you are trying to lose fat.

Figuring out what is your proper calorie consumption is really quite simple. First - for men - take your bodyweight, then add a zero on to the end of that number, then add two hundred to that number (See table 1). For females - do the same equation - only don't add two hundred. This is approximately your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the number of calories needed to sustain your bodyweight if no physical activity is done. If you are under or overweight, you could select a "desirable bodyweight" within twenty-pounds of your objective. Change that number each time you attain your current goal, until reaching your overall goal. Second, you must add calories to account for your daily activities. Here is a basic rule of thumb. *If your activity level is low, add 350 calories to your BMR number. If your activity is moderate to high add 500 and 750 calories respectively (See table 1).

(Table1)

 

Basal metabolic rate 
(BMR calories)

*Activity Level (Calories)

Men

Bodyweight add zero + 200

Low add 350

Women

Bodyweight add zero

Moderate add 500

 

 

High add 750

Ex. Bodyweight male (BMR) = 165lbs. + 0 = 1650 + 200 = 1850 calories

Ex. Bodyweight female (BMR) = 130lbs. + 0 = 1300 calories

Now for the controversial macronutrient proportions. All this controversy can become quite confusing but in actuality, it is not. Macronutrient proportions are the amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates consumed that make up the total caloric intake. You've heard all the fuss about low fat - high protein, high fat - low carbohydrate, the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, etc. It can all drive you mad! The truth is, each person metabolizes food differently. This is where experimentation comes in.

From my experience and observations, I have noticed that people, who have a tendency to put weight on easily, do well with a moderate amount of carbohydrates in their diet (40-50% carbohydrates from total calories). For those who find it hard to gain weight, 55-70% carbohydrates from total calories is usually more appropriate. Proteins can range from 15-30% of the total caloric intake. If resistance training were part of your fitness plan, closer to 30% protein would be advisable because it is essential in muscle tissue repair.

Let's not forget the wonderful world of lipids (fats). Fats are an important part of the total nutrition picture. Although they are needed in the least amount of all the macronutrients, they perform many tasks essential to life. The total amount of fat from the total calories can be anywhere between 10-20% fats with 10% or less coming from the saturated variety (ex. meats, dairy, eggs, etc.). Unsaturated fats, fats that are of plant origin, are preferred. Restricting fats from the diet can be detrimental. When the body senses that fats are not in the diet, it will make adjustments to hold on to the fat it has in its storage areas. Thus, restricting fats pretty much defeats the "diet" purpose. A diet with a balance of all the macronutrients will bring the best and healthiest results.

Last, but most important, let's talk about time schedules. The body's metabolism will operate at an optimum level when it is fed on a regular schedule. Usually, eating at three-hour intervals/six meals per day is vital to keeping the metabolism burning at a high level. Hence, more calories of fat are being metabolized in a twenty-four hour period. A consideration one might make is to try to eat more carbohydrates in the early meals and to decrease them as the day goes on. A sample schedule, if your total caloric intake were 2400 calories, could be divided by six meals which would give six four hundred calorie meals or adjusted calories to have a smaller meal before bedtime (see Table 2 below). Applying this information to your fitness plan will dramatically change your physique forever.

(Table 2)

Meal One

7:00am 500 calories

Meal Two

10:00am 400 calories

Meal Three

1:00pm 500 calories

Meal Four

4:00pm 400 calories

Meal Five

7:00pm 400 calories

Meal Six

10:00pm 200 calories


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