By Eugene Heuberger
Salutations, fitness enthusiast.
Behind every award-winning athlete, bikini model, and chiseled physique lays an oft-overlooked aspect of fitness; diet.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that performing a specific exercise a certain number of times will be enough to take you to your goal. While this might work for some people, the vast majority will find that changing their eating habits will aid their progress exponentially.
Nutrition is a very broad subject; enough so that there are entire professions surrounding it. For this reason, I will only briefly touch on some of the ideas that make a good diet plan.
To begin, it’s important to get an idea how many calories you need to consume in a day. To do this, you will want to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR. Your BMR will tell you the amount of calories you burn in a day simply by existing.
This can be done using an online calculator, or by using the Katch McArdle formula: BMR = 370 + (9.82 * lean body mass in lbs). Lean body mass can be determined by using your measured body fat percentage to determine how many pounds of body fat you carry, then subtracting them from your overall weight.
After determining your BMR, you can find your total daily calorie expenditure by multiplying your BMR by an appropriate activity modifier: 1.2 for a s edentary (inactive) lifestyle, 1.375 for light exercise 1-3 times a week, 1.55 for moderate exercise 3-5 times a week, 1.725 for hard exercise 6-7 days a week, and 1.9 for extreme exercise twice daily.
After you know how many calories you burn in an average day, you will need to decide what your weight goal is. If you are looking to gain muscle or lose fat, you will want to increase or decrease your daily caloric intake accordingly, taking care to notice any changes to your general health.
Also important is the source of the calories you eat. There are three major forms of macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. There tends to be some confusion as to how much of each a person needs.
USDA Dietary Reference Intake sheets suggest that there is no threshold at which the consumption of any of the three begins to demonstrate adverse effects. This leaves the individual to decide their own intake, within caloric needs.
Each gram of carbohydrates contains four calories, fats contain eight calories per gram, protein contains four calories per gram, and alcohol contains seven calories per gram. Each pound of body fat contains approximately 3500 calories.
A few good dietary recommendations are to consume about one gram of protein per day for every pound of lean body mass. The remaining calories should be balanced out between fat and carbohydrates; in whatever capacity best suits the individual.
Another recommendation I like to make to individuals trying to learn to better to control their diet is to keep a food journal for a week or two. Jot down everything you eat, along with the calories and macronutrients within it, and tally up totals for each at the end of the day.
It can be a surprise to find out just how much you are eating, or how lopsided your diet may be. Getting a feel for your current eating habits is the first step toward improving them.
Please remember, don’t make major dietary changes without first discussing them with your physician.
Good luck in your endeavors, and until next time, farewell.
By Eugene Heuberger