What are Calories?
Calories are the measure of energy in our food, they provide us with the energy our body needs to carry out daily functions as simple as walking and talking. Coming in the form of food and drink made up by protein, carbs and fats (these are called macronutrients), each of which have different energy values and carry out a different roles in our bodies.
It is important to ensure you consume the right balance of calories if you are actively trying to improve your physique. This number will be dictated by an individual’s needs/goals/gender and all aspects of your life should be taken into account, from your job to the amount of reps and sets you are completing in the gym, for example a diet plan for a woman who struggles to get to the gym and sits at an office desk all day should be different than a diet plan for a man who goes to the gym five times a week and is trying to improve muscle mass. Provided your calories are not set at maintenance (staying the same weight) you should see fluctuations in your weight, whether that be weight going up or down will be dependent on the number of calories that are set, you may be familiar with terms such as deficit and surplus which can be used to describe how/why your calories are set. A calorie deficit means that the amount of calories are set below maintenance for you to lose weight whereas a surplus suggests your calories are set above maintenance in order for you to gain weight. To what degree your weight changes will be dependent on the margin of deficit/surplus you set.
Should you count calories?
In most cases yes, but probably not how you think. As mentioned above our foods have different macronutrients which carry out different roles in the body:
- Protein – Important for repair and growth.
- Carbohydrates – main supply of energy, regulates important hormones relevant to weight/general health.
- Fats – supply energy, essential fatty acids, absorption of vitamins and cognitive function and vision.
(Find out more about Proteins, carbs and fats over the coming weeks)
Each of the above carries its own energy value:
Protein – 1g of protein = 4 Kcal
Carbs – 1g of Carbs = 4 Kcal
Fat – 1g of Fat = 9 Kcal
So next time you look at nutritional label look at the total Kcal and add up the calories using the values for Protein, Carbs and fats. (If you still need help check out this article … http://www.jayspearmanfitness.com/we-grind-blog/how-to-read-a-nutrition-label-for-macro-nutrients)
The calories set to an individual should be personalised as we said before and so should the macronutrient split (amount of each nutrient), different people react differently to nutrients, I have clients who work very well with low carbohydrate diets and others that work better with a high carbohydrate diet, it’s just a case of trial and error to find out what works for yourself/client. (Coaches – this is where your skill and experience as a coach becomes a factor, though changing somebodies physique relies on a good understanding of scientific principles there is a certain degree of instinct needed when trying to find the optimal diet for an individual)
Apps such as Myfitnesspal can help you stick to a simple diet plan by allowing you to track the food you are eating, but the recommendations they give are very general and may not get you success. If you need help setting up a diet and exercise plan or need weekly support feel free to contact the No Limits team for help or information on our online training service firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal trainer @ No Limits Strength and Conditioning Centre Liverpool
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