Changing Your Body Composition
First off, let’s discuss “calories in vs calories out” and how it relates to your body. Your body burns a certain amount of energy everyday, and this can be measured in calories. The energy in food can be measured the same way.
Now in order to lose fat, you need to feed your body less energy than it burns. When you do this, it must get the energy it needs from somewhere, and its “go to source” is its fat stores.
When we’re strictly talking about weight loss or weight gain, a calorie is a calorie, regardless where it comes from!
BUT why count macros instead of just calories?
Because a calorie is not a calorie when we’re talking about body composition. What I mean is if you want to lose weight WHILE also trying to maintain as much lean mass as possible, you need to do more than just be in a caloric deficit.
The focus is not just to lose weight but to change your body for the better. In order to reach the goal of changing your body composition you should focus on three main areas of nutrition often referred to as macros.
What is Macros?
Macros is short for Macronutrients & there are three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to function properly: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
They make up most of your calories & thats why its important to get adequate amounts of each everyday.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carb = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
Why count macros, not just calories?
When we’re talking strictly about weight loss, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of where it comes from.
BUT, improving body composition is much more important than just trying to lose weight. It’s all about balance.
Your calories are spread out in adequate amounts of fats, proteins, and carbs in a way that helps you lose weight, provide your muscles with the glycogen stores which are needed for energy, and also maintain muscle mass.
Do you have to get in your micros?
It is still vital to get in your micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) because they support our bodies physiological functions.
Eating too little healthy foods and more junk food will result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies & may result in health problems down the road.
The key here is balance.
As long as the majority of your daily calories come from healthy foods full of micronutrients, feel free to include some non-nutritive treats in moderation.
Where to start?
Learn to calculate how many calories your body burns everyday (TDEE*) based on all of your information (age, weight, lifestyle, activity level, etc.).
Knowing this, the main thing to note is that if you are looking to lose weight, you need to eat less calories than your body burns in a day or be in a caloric deficit. If you want to gain weight simply do the opposite & eat more calories than your body burns in a day or be in a caloric surplus.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
TDEE is the amount of calories your body burns in a 24 hour period, sleeping, working, exercising, playing, & digesting food.In other words, this is the amount of calories you need to intake in order to maintain your weight right now. So, the formula is:
Eat less calories than TDEE, lose weight!
Eat more calories than TDEE, gain weight!
It's just that simple!
Food for thought: don’t be afraid to eat carbs. And when choosing carbs, your body does not know the difference between white rice & wheat bread.
A carb is a carb when digested and absorbed by the body. The only difference is where they rank on the glycemic index.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels.
So the lower the carb is on the glycemic index, the slower it is for your body to process it & the slower it is for the carb to turn into fat. In this case, you would want to eat more whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice or whole wheat bread.
The higher GI carbs are your sweets and the faster it is for it to turn into fat unless you burn it off right away. I
IIFYM (Flexible Dieting)
What is IIFYM?
IIFYM aka Flexible Dieting is a system of accurately counting calories & tracking your macronutrient intake.
You will be able to add a variety of foods into your diet with no food source limitations.
You still typically would get in about 70-80% of pretty much clean foods such as your lean meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits. If you want, you may include your pleasurable junk foods or snacks in moderation.
What Makes You Gain Fat?
Simple - food source doesn’t make you gain fat, nor does carbohydrates. Excess amount of calories can make you gain fat.
The main key concept is “calories in VS calories out”. Your body burns a certain amount of energy every day, and this can be measured in calories.
The energy in food can be measured in the same way. In order to lose fat, you need to feed your body less energy than it burns. When you do this, it must get the energy it needs from somewhere, and its gonna take energy from its fat stores. If you consume more energy than you burn, that energy will automatically store as fat.
Carbs are your main source of energy. You need carbs in order to function properly throughout the day.
People say that carbs make you gain fat & that's true, only if you eat too much more than you’re supposed to.
Think of carbs as energy. Energy that is not being spent by the body will be stored as fat & thats why its important to figure out how much carbs you should be taking in daily.
Why Eat Fats?
Fats are a large part of hormone and enzyme production. Without the use of hormones and enzymes everything from digestion of food to sexual reproduction would be disrupted or stopped.
Why do People Fail When Dieting?
Dieting is usually boring & often comes with major cravings. Cravings kick in right away. When people give in to cravings, they stop their diet, & binge eat, which is consuming unusually large amounts of food (overeating). Like most people, they stop the diet for the rest of the week & say they’re gonna start again on Monday, but like always, they’re in a constant struggle with trying to eat clean vs eating dirty.
Consistency is key!
Leptin is the hormone that controls hunger. When you diet, your leptin levels drop because your body is designed to lose body fat.
We hold body fat for reserved energy. When your leptin levels are low, your body is gonna do whatever it takes to get to its metabolic set point to where your body feels content & normal.
Remember when you are trying to change your body composition, be patient and consistent and the results will come.