I’m going to assume if you’re not eating enough calories in the first place, you’re either just not hungry or you think doing so will help you lose weight. Another few reasons could be that you say you don’t have time to eat, there’s not enough hours in the day to prep your meals or the foods you eat in general just don’t have enough calories for your daily needs. I’m giving these examples as this is what I notice and hear the most often from people. I understand not everyday is perfect.
If you desire optimal health and/or your life depends on it, you should make long term nutrition goals come to life the safest way possible. As I said in Part 1, if your body doesn’t get the nutrients and calories it needs for everyday functions, fat burning will slow down, you will lose muscle over time and performance in other areas will decrease as well. If you want to take care of your overall health the right way, you’ll have to nourish your body properly and at least maintain 30 minutes of activity 5 days per week.
Keeping yourself famished and/or and dieting too hard past what your body needs for it’s base metabolism is dangerous. Even if you don’t eat junk calories all the time or you feel you eat plenty of food and the meals you choose are super clean, you could still be under eating. There’s two ways to solve this problem. 1st, measure your estimated metabolic rate. 2nd, experiment with a solid meal plan. An equation to use to find a round-about answer for your resting metabolic rate is the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation. This would be based on your age, height and weight. Your real resting metabolic rate can vary greatly depending if you were 200 lbs and 6% body fat or 200 lbs and 50% body fat. Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes states
“Once you have determined your basic metabolic rate, you need to multiply it by the appropriate activity factor to determine your daily caloric needs:
- 1.200 = sedentary (little or no exercise)
- 1.375 = light activity (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week)
- 1.550 = moderate activity (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week)
- 1.725 = very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week)
- 1.900 = extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job)”
Mifflin-St Jeor Equation(calories/day): (Your resting metabolic rate)
Male: 9.99 x weight + 6.25 x height – 4.92 x age + 5
Female: 9.99 x weight + 6.25 x height – 4.92 x age – 161
weight in kilograms, height in centimeters, age in years
This equation paired with the activity multiplier can give you an idea of where you are at. The most common place I would go to is Life Time Fitness for a more accurate assessment. They have all of the New Leaf Fitness equipment to perform a metabolic test which generally is inexpensive compared to getting it done through certain doctor’s offices. (If they even have the equipment) Most of the time, the results from the test can even be input into some heart rate monitors for a more accurate calorie burn when you train as well. Again, all tests have some margin of error, but it’s still important to try and find out your own personal numbers so you don’t have to guess as much with your nutrition. Make an appointment with Katrin Gebhard at Lifetime Fitness John’s Creek if you’re in the state of Georgia. She’ll take care of you.
If you’re smart enough with your food & have an idea of what calories you consume in the first place, finding out your metabolic rate may not even be needed. You could make minor changes to the way you eat and start seeing results immediately. For others, this may involve more work to see changes. Every person is built uniquely. Sometimes another person may require more tests to solve a health problem. In certain situations, someone can start adding extra fruit, vegetables, and proteins to their meals causing a possible medical issue to diminish. Food is the best internal medicine. What gets measured, gets improved! Track what you eat and how you train. See what you’re eating now, compared to what your estimated metabolic rate is. You can use those variables to see how accurate the measurement is for you, and the changes you need to make from there.
After using this equation, and / or getting a metabolic test to determine a caloric goal to shoot for, experiment with various healthy food pairings. Use helpful apps such as My Fitness Pal to track your food. It makes it easier for a coach or friend to see what you ate for food, and if any changes need to be made Also, be sure you actively participate in some sort of exercise program as this helps you achieve your goal of burning fat and building lean muscle. See what exercises suit your body, and how do you feel training based on what you are eating. Take pictures to note your progress. Without them, you will not know how much you’ve changed. If you need help with creating your workouts, I can perform various exercise assessments with you to create a plan based on your body type, how you move, and level of exercise knowledge.
For creating your new habits, eat what you feel is a sensible healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Add in a few snacks if need be. Consume what you think is “plenty of water”. If you have no clue on how much water you are supposed to be drinking, make sure you read my blog on Hydration. Click on the picture below to read more. Portion out all of your food. Measure and journal everything. See what a workout day looks like and also a non-workout day.
Once you have this information, then you can start slowly adding, subtracting or swapping things from your list as need be. Always check with your doctor first. Get blood work done regularly so you can make sure your hormones are in balance. If anything is off, this can play a critical role in what and how much you eat. Are you stressed out? Do you get enough sleep? How often do you binge on your daily nutrition? These are key things you need to know and think about when gathering all of your information. Bring this material to your nutrition coach / dietitian to discuss your exercise routines, habits, and the way your body looks / feels. Follow some sort of scheduled eating intervals paired with routine exercise regimens. If you see positive changes, great! Keep going! If not, contact me to take a look at where your body is and if you are eating enough calories. What is your goal? Is how you’re eating now working towards the desired look of your body?
1. Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D. Minimum Amount of Calories Needed Per Day to Survive. Jan. 2014. Web. 2 April. 2015.
2. Mark P. Kelly, Ph.D. Resting Metabolic Rate: Best Ways to Measure It—And Raise It, Too. Oct. 2012. Web 21 April. 2015
3. Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes, Ph.D. Losing Weight with Basic Metabolic Rate: The Mifflin-St Jeor Method. Jan. 2011. Web 21 April. 2015