As we approach the holidays, it’s about time for some serious calorie consumption. On average, Americans consume about 4500 calories on Thanksgiving alone. Most of us only require about 1600-2100 calories on any given day, so that is quite a bit extra! This shocking number does bring to mind some often-asked questions about nutrition, weight loss, and calories. Calories are small things that play a huge role in each of our lives!
While one day of over-eating won’t completely derail your health and fitness goals, it’s important to realize that not all calories are created equal. Often times, people are confused as to why they’re not losing weight, why they’re gaining weight, or why they have hit a plateau in their goals, and all the while, they’re completely convinced that they are eating the right number of calories. There is a lot of information out there that can help you determine how many calories you should be eating in order to reach your health goals. We can help you figure out the basics, how much of each macronutrient you should have, what the heck a macronutrient is, and how often to eat. Calories can be tricky, but we’ve got you covered!
Think of calories as fuel for your body, just like gas for your car. The amount of calories listed in the label on your food identifies how much energy that food gives your body. The energy in calories comes from type of macronutrient provides a certain number of calories of energy per gram. Fat gives your body 9 calories of energy per gram and carbohydrates and protein provide 4 calories per gram. Your body prefers to get its energy from carbohydrates, as they are the easiest to breakdown. Protein provides calories for growth and tissue repair, especially important for active people like you! Though fat is given a bad rap, it is required for tissue, cell, and hormone production.
Just how much of each macronutrient does your body need?
Though not exact, an average adult should acquire 45-65% of their daily calories from carbohydrates, 10-25% from protein, and 20-35% from fat. Taking in the right amount of calories from each macronutrient group is essential to making sure the body is functioning properly and efficiently. While counting calories can be overwhelming and unnecessary, keeping track of the rough amount of each macronutrient you consume can be very beneficial to weight loss and optimal fitness.
Are you trying to lose or gain weight?
Your calorie consumption is key, then. You can control your weight by simple calorie control. While calorie control may not be simple to practice, the theory is simple to understand. If you take in more calories, or energy, than your body uses, the rest gets stored as fat. If you move enough during the day to burn more energy than you take in, or eat, then your body relies on stored fat to power itself.
When or how often should you eat?
Nutrient timing is important for maintaining energy balance in the body, up-regulating (or accelerating) metabolism, and altering body composition (increasing muscle, decreasing fat). Eating about 5 times per day- 3 small meals and 2 snacks, is ideal rather than eating 3 large meals. Aim to consume something, whether it is a snack or a true meal, about every 3 hours to keep your energy levels high and prevent you from raiding the refrigerator for anything and everything when you finally get home from a long day. Eating snacks or meals high in carbohydrates is beneficial before and after a workout, to give your body quick energy. Fats and proteins should be consumed at a constant rate, or, in a small amount with each meal. So, the general rule of thumb is to eat often, and eat well.
Now, head into the holiday season a bit more educated, but still indulge! The holidays are a time to celebrate, and food is often times part of the celebration. Consume everything in moderation and your waistline will make it through this season with ease.