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Calories In vs Calories Out, Right?
When it comes to nutrition and fitness, calories are always a hot topic, right? Everyone asks, “How many calories do I need to eat?” It is conventional thinking to take calories at face value and think that changing one's body composition is all about, calories in versus calories out. Sure, calories are important, but, getting leaner and achieving that amazing physique one desires is much more in-depth than simply a numbers game of calories in versus calories out. As I say in my 3-DVD set, Rx Nutrition, “If it were as easy as calories in versus calories out, it would be that easy.”
I want to help individuals avoid being over-focused on calories and help them focus on other nutrition keys that are even more important. When it comes to nutrition, we do not want to live by a “bank of calories”, because if we do, we are going to end up bankrupt.
Let's review some real-life examples; these are examples where individuals ate the “right amount of calories”, but never got any body composition results. These were not 1-time occurrences; rather, these individuals lived this way, nutritionally, more often than not…
An individual wants to eat 1500 cal each day and, this individual wakes up at 6 AM and does not eat until 10 AM. The 10 AM snack is a small container of yogurt; and then, lunch is a bed of greens with a grilled chicken breast. And then, the remainder of the 1500 cal is consumed from mid afternoon on. This is not going to produce any positive results because there was a large gap, 4 hours, upon awakening before the 1st meal was consumed. And, in addition, approximately 80% of the day's calories were consumed from the mid afternoon on (sound familiar?). Even though this individual stayed on task with the “Bank of calories”, 1500, they still end up bankrupt and no body composition change.
Another individual has a goal of 2000 cal each day. On this day, they have a nice dinner planned, so, they want to be sure to “save up” calories during the day in order to enjoy the dinner that evening. They eat immediately upon awakening, 6 AM and then their next meal is lunch, 12 PM. In their bank of calories, they have only used up 800 cal, 'allowing' them to have a hearty 1200 cal dinner that includes plenty of food and 3 adult beverages. Now, just like in the example above, this individual hit their calories spot-on, but, still, no results.
These are just 2 of many examples of individuals trying to manage their nutrition using a bank of calories. Now, I never want to give a mixed message; calories, of course, are important. But, let's focus on the following and let's let this trump the calorie counting disaster…
Let's start with our golden rules of frequency and timing. Stick to these like glue, and you will be on the right track… Fuel your body immediately, and I mean immediately upon. Remember, we want to think about food like wood for the fire; continue to throw small amounts of wood on the fire all day long and you will keep your fire (your metabolism) burning.
The next golden rule… Fuel your body every 2.5-3.5 hours thereafter; let's keep it simple, every 3 hours. If this means you need to set an alarm on your phone, schedule this in your daily planner, etc., do whatever it takes. We need to bring a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality to the table if we want to achieve our goals.
Now, the key to the high frequency of eating is that this will help to keep an individual from over eating at any meal/snack. In order to stimulate hunger every 3 hours, we have to eat the right amount of food. If we eat too much food at a particular meal/snack (this would be like throwing too much on a burning fire, smothering the fire, and letting it die out), we are not going to be hungry in 3 hours. On the flip side, if we are hungry within one hour of our previous meal/snack, most likely, we did not eat quite enough.
And then, let's close out the Golden rules and this is where we will take healthy eating into the world of Eating Right. At every meal/snack, have the correct balance and the combination of carbohydrate-protein-fat (40-55% calories from carbohydrate, 15-30% protein, 15-30% fat).
Here is the great news about following the 3 golden rules above… You will help to change your mindset and take the focus away from a “bank of calories.” And, by following the principles above, your calories will start to fall right into place.
In summary, it is not a matter of how many total calories we consume on a given day; rather, the question is, how did we arrive at our total calories on a given day? How did you arrive at your total calories today?
Dr. Rick Kattouf II
2x Best-Selling Author
Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year