Tracking is really beneficial – this is not just about understanding what you are consuming and those hidden calories that you hadn’t accounted for, it is a really useful tool to better understand what works for you to achieve your goal. Many of us are not getting enough protein in our diets, or perhaps too much sodium or you begin to understand how unbalanced your carbs, protein and fats are.
Download – MYFITNESSPAL app – you can find it FREE in the app store – or head here https://www.myfitnesspal.com/ Set up your profile and be realistic. There is no point in setting a calorie deficit that is unrealistic and won’t be able to stick to, for example only having 1200 calories to eat in a day. It has to be a goal that is achievable and something you can maintain. Do not compare yours with the next person either – we are individuals in every sense, remember height and starting weight is taking into consideration too.
I added my own calorie counter to work out your calorie deficit/surplus. DO NOT GO BY WHAT MFP SAYS! It doesn’t go by your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) then subtracting your deficit or surplus, instead it takes a rough Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) then gives you calories from exercises and non-exercise activities (NEAT) – (check out my blog on NEAT). So you will end up with a huge deficit (if weight loss is your goal) and one that is not sustainable. So I go by the TDEE – deficit.
Focus on the weekly amount of calories rather than the daily. If you know you are heading for a big weekend and eating out, drinking etc – then simply cut back for a day or 2 before and after, so by the end of the week you reach your total calorie allowance.
I always tell my clients it may be trial and error to start off with, with a small deficit (if weight loss is your goal) –you can adjust in small increments if you are feeling it is manageable. Your goal may be that you want to gain muscle and not lose weight – I recommend a maintain goal here, again its trial and error – but makes sure you read the information below with regards to protein.
Macros – When setting up your goal in the myfitnesspal app – you can let the app set your macro split for you or you can adjust it yourself. This again may take a couple of readjustments to get right. One thing to point out is that you can over load on protein – you want to ideally go for around 0.8g to 1.5g per kilo of body weight. I weigh 56 KG and stick to a split of 50% carbs, 20% protein and 30% fat and this works for me. I have tried lots of varied splits but I have found my happy place at this. This gives me 60g of protein – which is slightly over 1g per kg. You may see many tools giving you a 40/40/20 split (protein, fats, carbs) for fat loss – which would give me 120g of protein more than 2g per kg. For me and the majority of people this can be difficult to stick to – excess protein is normally stored as fat while the surplus amino acids are excreted. Additionally, consuming excess protein may result in you eating too many calories, especially if you‘re opting for more calorie-dense sources of protein like high-fat meat and nuts. Remember you want this to be sustainable for long term results – not a quick fix. Unsure about anything – just email me – email@example.com
If you are wondering what goal to set for yourself – see below.
Lose, Maintain, or Gain?
15-20% calorie deficit – promotes safe, steady, sustainable weight loss.
10% calorie deficit and is intended for those with less than 10 pounds to lose and who also wish to build muscle at the same time.
Maintain allows you to eat and maintain your current weight.
5-20 % calorie surplus and is designed for people who are wanting to build muscle fast in conjunction with a comprehensive weight training program. It can also be used by people who are underweight. Be very careful with this as you need to ensure you are on a good training program and a higher protein diet to ensure it is muscle you are building and not fat. –
It is such a tough industry and there are so many mixed messages out there which is a worry for me as a Personal Trainer. So I have made it a mission of mine to project and share my knowledge , I want to make a difference to the way people view fitness. There is an abundance of non-qualified ‘nutritionists’ and ‘influencers’ who are promoting products and giving their take on what you ‘should’ or shouldn’t be doing. This alone makes it incredibly hard for people looking for guidance, to distinguish the good from the bad advice.
I like to keep things really simple. If you aren’t seeing results in your efforts, then take a look at the following:
- You may think you are on a calorie deficit but you may not be achieving it in practice. Track your calories consumed through a free app such as MyFitnessPal. Make sure you set it right for your metabolism. Going by a device such as a Garmin or FitBit to calculate your calories burned is not always accurate and doesn’t always take into account the activities that you are doing, or not doing. When you need to calculate your calories burned, it is generally best to go by the TDEE formula (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).
- ‘Trial and Error’ is my motto when it comes to calorie deficit and macro’s – having something sustainable is the key to long-term success and results. Start small and you can always adjust it. There is also no point in setting your protein intake so high that it’s an epic struggle to hit it each day, this is definitely not conducive in getting the results you want. Set a reasonable deficit – 15% to start with then see how you get on. One thing to point out – you want to ideally go for around 0.8g to 1.5g per kilo of body weight.
- Expectations – you may need to adjust these. I had a recent email from someone desperate to lose 5lbs of weight to get a visible 6 pack but nothing was working. That was because they were not prepared to make changes to their lifestyle to make this happen. Do you really want to give up your social life and live to the extreme when it comes to fitness and eating? Do you have the patience to food prep, to eat clean, to live that kind of lifestyle – in order to get ripped? If the answer is no, then adjust your expectations and embrace where you are right now – accept it and move on to something more interesting to focus on.
- For those who want to drop body fat % but don’t need to lose weight, make sure you’re eating enough to sustain your weight and not wasting muscle away with cardio in a bid to reduce body fat % – it won’t work.
- The ‘calories are not equal’ debacle – calories are equal. It’s like saying an inch is not always an inch, a pint is not always a pint. If you are on a calorie deficit – you will still lose weight, regardless of what you eat. BUT it does matter what you eat! For example, I have stuck to the same calorie intake consistently since October. But there are times when I have been bloated and gained a couple of lbs but stuck to the same calorie intake. Yes, water retention, time of the month etc can come into play, but the main reason is that I have been eating crap (but the same amount of calories) and too much alcohol as well! Thus, my energy levels are low, my workouts not as effective, I am not getting the most out of them as my energy levels are not as high, my sleeping is worse, my NEAT is reduced and so on. My NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) decreases massively when I have a hangover. So yes, calories are equal, but it can make a difference to everything else that you do and NEAT is one the most important things, as well as sticking to a healthy diet (the majority of the time that is). This goes for most of us – if we are eating healthily and taking care of what we are putting into fuel and nurture our bodies, it’s almost a placebo effect – it makes us automatically want to improve in everything else that we do. When I eat well, I move more and moving more results in more calories burnt, which leads to great results.
Any questions – pop them in an email to me – firstname.lastname@example.org