Improving Your Nutrition: Part 1 – Energy Balance

Energy Balance

Whether you are in the middle of deciding to increase mass or drop bodyweight, the very first and most important step in achieving a healthy nutritional balance is figuring out how much energy your body needs. The most simple form of measurement is keeping track of the amount of food you eat. You consume energy, and through some magical process, your body converts it into energy! Calories are energy. You use energy to eat, sleep, breathe, move and even sit on your butt. As humans, we have to consume energy everyday in order to survive. The trouble comes when we decide to consume more energy than we naturally put out. Simplified, that’s how we gain or lose weight.  You are either taking in too many Calories, too few Calories or you’re doing it just enough to maintain your current stature.

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In order to find out the number of Calories your body needs to sustain its current weight with no bearing on your current activity level, plug in your personal statistics into the following equation, where BMR stands for your Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of estimated Calories your body burns with no bearing on activity):

 

Male:

BMR = 66 + ( 6.2 × weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 × height in inches ) – ( 6.76 × age in years )

YOUR DAILY BMR: _____________

 

Female:

BMR = 655.1 + ( 4.35 × weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 × height in inches ) – ( 4.7 × age in years )

YOUR DAILY BMR: _____________

After figuring out BMR, we have to account for your daily activity levels. In this one, we want you to look at the previous 6 months of physical activity versus the plan ahead. As you get deeper into the program we can adjust for your increased activity levels. Listed below are the modifiers for your above BMR, which you will multiply by your DAILY BMR to get your Total Daily Expenditure (TDE). Choose from the categories below and multiply the modifier from the chart to your BMR.

 

Little to no exercise Daily Calories needed = BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily Calories needed = BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily Calories needed = BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily Calories needed = BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily Calories needed = BMR x 1.9

Your Activity Level modifier : ______________

YOUR BMR * Activity Level Modifier = Total Daily Expenditure

_________________* _________________= ___________________

YOUR TOTAL DAILY EXPENDITURE: ___________________

In order to gain weight or lose weight, your body needs to be in a Caloric surplus or deficit. In terms of Calories, one pound of weight gain or weight loss is a difference of 3,500 Calories in either direction each week. More aggressively, you can put on or drop two pounds with a difference or addition of 7,000 Calories per week. To me, it has always made more sense to think of your Caloric intake as a weekly budget instead of a set daily total. With that in mind, we multiply your TDE by 7 to extrapolate a Weekly Caloric expenditure:

TDE * 7 = _________________ (Weekly Caloric expenditure)

If you are looking to gain or lose weight, add or subtract 3,500 (less aggressive, one pounds of weight loss) or 7,000 (more aggressive, two pounds of weight loss) from your weekly Caloric total.

Weekly Caloric expenditure +- 3,500 or 7,000 = Weekly Calorie Goal

_________________ +  – ________________ = _______________

Now, though keeping track of your weekly total, spread the Calories throughout the week. I have found that allowing myself fewer energy on the weekdays, allows me to flex more on the weekend for fun. If you are the kind of person who just likes the consistent number to hit, go for your set number throughout the week. But understand that once you’re done for the day, you’re done.

Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun

In reality and the long term, counting Calories is an inexact science. It’s not a perfect! Many other factors come into play with the human body – absorption rate of food, hormonal response to food, genetics! On top of that, when it comes to logging your Calories, studies have shown that there can be a difference of ~25% in given foods, even when counting every Calorie perfectly. If after two weeks of hitting your Caloric totals, you haven’t achieved your objective goal (gain or lose weight), adjust your daily caloric goals by 250 Calories in whichever direction you need!

That’s it for today, good luck!

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