Understanding How to Properly Fuel Your Body
To Reach Your Goals You Have To Understand How To Properly Fuel Your Body For Those Goals!
If you want to be successful at reaching and maintaining your goals, it is important to understand how to properly fuel your body. In this post, I am going to break it down in an easy-to-understand way.
One of the most common questions I get when someone uses a macro or calorie calculator is “How am I supposed to eat all of that food and still lose weight?”
To answer that question I need to change your mindset around the word calorie.
If You Can Relate To Any Of The Statements Below, I Hope That You Will Read This Post COMPLETELY
- Have you ever questioned a macro calculator thinking, “there is NO WAY I can eat that much food and lose weight!”
- You truly want to live a healthier life, free of feeling deprived by food. And you want to understand what it means to properly fuel your body.
- You want to feel better, have more energy, and sleep better!
- More than lose unwanted fat, you want to look good NAKED!
- You want to maintain your current weight but maybe gain some lean muscle
- Perhaps you want to gain weight by building more muscle
We Need To Change Our Mindset About The Word “CALORIE”.
I would like to change the word Calorie to Energy. Why, because your body needs energy to function properly and we get this energy from our food, the calories we consume.
There is a base about of energy that your body NEEDS to function on the most basic level. For your heart, brain, liver, and all other vital organs to function properly. For your blood circulation, breathing, cell production, and nutrient processing. This is called your BMR.
BMR: Stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, the total amount of energy (calories) your body needs for basic, life-sustaining functions.
Your BMR does not include any other activity other than to keep you alive. It does not factor in getting out of bed, showering, going to the bathroom, cooking, working of any kind…nothing. Your BMR is what your body needs to lay in bed and stay alive.
To calculate your BMR you can follow one of two math equations, Harris-Benedict Equation or the Miffin-St Jeor Formula. Both factor in your: Weight, Height, and Age in slightly different ways, however, both come to the same calculation. To spare you the headache of following either formula, you can easily use my Macro Calculator which uses the Mifflin-St Jeor formula to calculate your BMR.
How Much Energy Do You Need To Properly Fuel Your Body?
Once you know the amount of Energy you NEED to stay alive…your BMR. You can then factor in your activity level to determine exactly how much energy (calories) your body needs to be able to complete your activity with enough energy for your body to feel safe, to not feel deplete, tried, and for your metabolism to function properly.
This is called your TDEE: Total Daily Energy Expenditure. Your TDEE needs to take into account your normal daily activity, as well as your workouts.
Here Is A Summary Of How You Can Identify Your Activity Level:
- Sedentary, Desk job, with little to no exercise: This is someone that works a desk job, does almost no movement throughout the day, does not workout, and when they get home they do very little other than cook dinner and bare minimum basic house chores. On average this person probably gets around 3,000 steps or less per day.
- Light Activity, Desk Job, with light exercise 1-3 days per week: This person has a desk job but they try to get up and move around throughout the day. They might have kids or a pet that requires them to be more active than the person above. They try to workout at least 1-3 times per week. On average this person probably gets between 3,000 – 5,000 steps per day.
- Moderate Activity, exercise 3-5 days per week: This person might have a desk job, but they try to get up every hour to move, they might even have a standing desk. Or this person has a job that keeps them on their feet a good part of the day but their work is not labor-intensive. They workout 3-5 times per week. On average this person probably gets between 5,000 – 8,000 steps per day.
- Very Active, Hard exercise 6-7 days per week: This person most likely does not have a desk job as that requires too much sedentary activity even if you are standing at the desk. This person probably works in the service industry or has a job that requires them to be on their feet the majority of the day, and their work requires some physical labor. They workout hard, lifting weights, 6-7 days per week. On average this person is getting 8,000 – 12,000 steps per day.
- Extremely Active, hard Exercise 6-7 days per week: This person’s job requires them to use physical strength all day long. Examples would be construction workers, bulk delivery: beer, furniture…heavy items. They also workout lifting heavy weights 6-7 days per week. On average this person is getting no less than 12,000 steps per day.
Most people will fall in the light to moderate activity levels depending on their workouts. This activity level must be added to your BMR to figure out how much energy your body is actually burning per day. Again there is a mathematical equation for this, but to make it easy for you I recommend using my Calculator I have done the math for you!
The calculator with take your Current Weight, Height, Age, and Activity level to calculate both your BMR and TDEE. Knowing both of these numbers is very important to reach any goal, and to properly fuel your body.
You absolutely never want to be eating below your BMR or you could be doing real harm to your body. If you are currently eating below your BMR I ask that you please read the rest of this post and the next one. I will walk you through how to slowly increase your energy to a healthy level which will actually help you reach your goals faster!
Your TDEE Number Is The Amount Of Energy (Calories) Your Body Needs To Maintain Its Current Weight….Known As Maintenance Level!
Now that we know what you need to properly fuel your body to maintain your current weight, your TDEE. We can look at what your goals are.
1. Goal: Lose Weight, More Than 25 Pounds
You will need to consume less energy than you burn on average per week. Referred to eating at a deficit.
How much less is the question? On average between 300 – 400 calories less than your TDEE is recommended. This reduction will enable you to lose around 1 pound of body fat per week on average. This is a healthy amount of weight loss, more than this can cause some major health issues and cause your metabolism to not function efficiently. Reducing greater than 400 calories may also put you below your BMR, a number you should NEVER go below. My calculator factors in an energy (calorie) reduction of 350 with a goal to lose 25 pounds or more.
For a long time, people have been cutting calories, and when they hit a plateau they cut even more, and then even more, until they are eating too little food for their bodies to function properly, which puts their bodies into “Survival Mode”.
A quick description of survival mode is when your body doesn’t feel safe, it sees that it’s not getting enough energy (calories) and because of that your body hangs onto any energy it can in fear for when it will get the proper amount of energy again. This is why when someone has reduced their energy (calories) too much they stop losing weight and even start gaining weight due to the stress that under-eating puts on the body.
Your body has to feel comfortable to let go of your unwanted fat. It has to know that you are going to provide it with enough energy each and every single day. You can not trick your body. After properly fueling your body over a period of time your body will begin to trust you again and you will see your unwanted weight begin to fall off. You will also gain energy, you will sleep better, and you will feel better.
If you have been under eating for a long time you will need to slowly work your energy (calories) back up to a healthy level of weight loss energy. Doing this too quickly will cause you to gain weight. More on this when I discuss reverse dieting in the next post.
Not all energy is created equal. Once you have your energy goal, you can not just eat enough Ores to fill that calorie requirement. For weight loss, you will want to make sure that you are getting enough calories from protein. Protein is going to be the primary factor in your weight loss success. This is where my calculator will help you figure out how much protein you need. Then from there, you can fill the remaining calories with fats and carbs, the percentage of fats and carbs, at this point doesn’t matter much. But you should try to get a minimum of 80% of your energy from whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
2. Goal: Maintain Weight, Lose Less Than 25 Pounds, Start Building Some Lean Muscle
You will need to consume your TDEE level of energy each day, your maintenance level of energy.
This might seem obvious for those looking to maintain their current weight. But for those who are still looking to lose those last 5-25 pounds you might be thinking, why wouldn’t I eat at a deficit?
To look good naked, you have to have a little muscle under your skin. Without muscle, you will just look like skin and bones, or what some refer to as “skinny fat”. You might always look in the mirror and think that you still have 5 pounds to lose.
To build muscle you need to be eating enough food for your muscles to grow. But you also need to be including resistance training/strength training with weights as the majority of your workouts. This will allow you to lose the last remaining amount of unwanted fat while building lean muscle at the same time. Muscle takes more energy to build than fat takes to lose.
You don’t need to lift crazy heavy weights to build muscle. You can build muscle by using light weights, but doing slow and controlled movements, and focusing on the muscles that you are trying to activate. You want to do reps that are difficult but not impossible. You’ll be surprised how much slowing down a movement can make an exercise much more difficult, even with a lighter weight.
The last 5-25 pounds can feel like the hardest to lose, but if you are working on building muscle, muscle actually takes more energy to maintain. Therefore, if you are struggling to lose those last 5-25 pounds, I highly recommend that you properly fuel your body, and incorporate weight training as your exercise.
Cardio, while good for you, is not the best for lose those last 25 pounds. Your body has the amazing ability to adapt and while cardio may have helped to lose the initial weight, once your body becomes accustomed to that cardio it no longer becomes as effective. With weight training, you can adjust the workouts to continue to get slightly more difficult with each workout…without working out for more than 45min – 1 hours, 4-5 times per week. Cardio you have to keep running, climbing, biking, longer and longer and longer to continue to make the workout more difficult to continue to see weight loss, and eventually you run out of time and you just can’t do anymore cardio. With weight lifting, you can increase the weight, add another rep, or slow down the movement without adding much time to your workout.
Similar to weight loss, protein is going to be your driving factor in seeing changes at this stage of your journey. But if you really want to move the needle and see results, I highly recommend trying to hit your energy, protein, carb, and fat goals that you can generate using my calculator. Again, making sure that you are getting a minimum of 80% of your energy from whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
3. Goal To Gain Weight And/Or Build Muscle
You will need to consume a surplus of energy each day. The surplus is based on your TDEE needs, plus anywhere from 200-1,000 calories per day, depending on your goal and activity level.
This seems easy but the key to building muscle is going to come down to being strict with your macros. You are going to want to get the proper amount of protein, carbs, and fats each day to reach your goals. Sure you could fill your energy (calorie) requirement with donuts, but that is going to cause you to gain fat, and in most cases, I am sure your goal is going to be to gain muscle.
Using my calculator will give you an outline of the base amount of energy, protein, carbs, and fats that your body needs to start gaining weight and building muscle. The goal would be to get 90% of your energy from whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
My hope from this post is not that you will start counting macros, however, I do find that extremely beneficial. My hope is that you better understand what your body needs to live, and what your body needs to meet your specific goals. Undereating is NOT the answer for weight loss, you have to eat the right amount of energy to reach your goals, no matter what they are.
If you want to start tracking your food a little but not looking to get into macro counting completely, my recommendation is to start with protein. Figure out what your required amount of protein looks like and make sure at a very minimum you are getting an adequate amount of protein every day. From their fill in the rest of your plate with healthy carbs, fruits, and vegetables and I promise you will see results.
Question: How do I figure out how much energy I am currently consuming? And what do I do if I am currently eating too little energy??? More all 3 of these in my next post!
Check out the Next 4 Post as they are part of this 5 part series!
IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION AND LIVE A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE!
Basal Metabolic Rate, the total amount of energy (calories) your body needs for basic, life-sustain
Total Daily Energy Expenditure. Your TDEE takes into account your normal daily activity, as well as your workouts.
Properly fueling your body allows you to lose weight, it takes the stress of dieting off your body and allows it to let go of that unwanted fat. Undereating for too long can wreak havoc on your body and how it functions, not to mention how you feel.