Everybody should eat healthy foods, how much we eat and what type of food varies from person to person. Additionally, food sensitivities and genetics are factors as well. With this in mind, what works for one person, may not necessarily work for you. The same thing applies to our daily activity level, daily fitness routines, and the type of work we do. For example, a sedentary person at work or at home, will requires a different level of nutrition then someone who leads an active lifestyle or a daily fitness lifestyle. In other words, not all 38 year old men, 6’3, 175 lbs can consume 3000 calories per day and get away with it. You have to look beyond that, and determine what kind of lifestyle they live, in order to determine what kind of nutrition plan and number of calories you should be eating. This is a 3 step process. Let’s look at various lifestyles, then dig into the 3 steps to weight management.
A Sedentary Lifestyle
If you prefer sitting on the couch watching television opposed to an active lifestyle, you must consume fewer calories than an active person would in order to maintain a healthy weight. That is unless you are overweight. If you are overweight, then you would need to consume fewer calories than maintenance to lose excess weight first. Once you are at a healthy weight, maintenance calories would work just fine. I’ll get into that in a moment.
An Active Lifestyle
If you’re an active person who’s always on the go, you probably get a lot accomplished every day. And you probably use more calories than someone who spends a lot of time on the couch clutching a remote. You are burning more calories, which means you can consume more calories.
A Fit, Active Lifestyle
A fitness nutrition diet is for people who work hard hard through challenging exercise. They routinely work out, either at home or at the gym. Maybe you’ve seen them running in your neighborhood or at the local pool, looking lean and fit in a swimsuit. They may be weightlifters, fitness pros, or people (perhaps people like you!) who do P90X.
Almost every day, P90Xers and other fit individuals burn lots and lots of calories. Even on days when they don’t work out, they burn more calories than most people because of they carry around more lean muscle. That’s why most of them eat more food than the average person. They have to! Muscle burns more calories than fat, and they need more calories to maintain that new muscle.
People on a fitness diet have to fuel their bodies all day long to keep the machine at peak performance. Some supplement their diets with a workout recovery drink, whey protein shakes, or Shakeology. They consume fewer refined (empty) carbohydrates than most, instead opting for more complex carbs and lean protein. Complex carbs provides more energy and protein helps muscles repair themselves and grow stronger after a workout. If you’re doing P90X or any other challenging fitness program, be sure you give your body the fuel it needs through fitness nutrition.
3 Steps to Weight Management
The basic rule of thumb is “calories in and calories out”. If you want to lose weight, you need to consume LESS food (calories) than you what you burn in a day. If you want to stay the same and maintain your weight, you need to consume the SAME amount of calories that you burn in a day. Finally, if you want to gain weight, you need to consume MORE calories than you burn. Make sense? Now let’s fire up the calculator and get to work!
Determine your BMR (Basal Metabolism Rate). Basal metabolic rate is the total amount of calories required by the body to perform its day-to-day involuntary functions such as functioning of the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, brain, etc. Here’s the formula, one for women, and one for men.
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )
Now you factor in your activity level, which gives you your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). To determine your TDEE, multiply your BMR (that you calculated above) by the appropriate activity factor below:
If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) :
BMR x 1.2 = TDEE
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) :
BMR x 1.375 = TDEE
If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) :
BMR x 1.55 = TDEE
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) :
BMR x 1.725 = TDEE
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) :
BMR x 1.9 = TDEE
Now you have a place to start, your TDEE is your “maintenance” calories. If you maintain this level, you should maintain your weight, neither gain weight or lose weight. But what if your goals are to lose weight or gain weight?
To lose weight, a person should be consuming calories that are less than the calculated TDEE. This reduced intake of daily calories is known as the calorie deficit. Simply take your number above, and reduce it by approximately 500 calories. In order to avoid any adverse effects on musculature, the calorie deficit should not go below 1500 calories a day for men and 1200 calories a day for women. My personal preference is to use a calorie deficit of 500 calories.
To gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn. One pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories, so eating an extra 500 calories per day will cause you to gain one pound a week, and should keep you from gaining too much additional bodyfat in the process. Gaining too much, too fast can cause more fat gain than desired.
I’m not a sports nutritionist, dietician, etc, and do not claim to be. But using these basic principles is a great way to get started in achieving your fitness goals. As you start towards your weight management goals, time and patience will win the race. Be consistent, eat clean, watch your food, and you will succeed! You’ve taken your first 3 steps, now you just have to put it all to work! I did it, and you can to! If I can help, I’m happy to. Visit our free fitness tools page. Good luck!
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