Counting calories or macronutrients are great approaches for achieving body composition goals.
Calorie: Amount of energy available in foods (despite labels and generalizations, estimated calories in foods are highly variable dependent on several factors – size, preparation, absorption, digestion, etc.)
Macronutrients: Nutrients that our bodies require to take in large amounts to help support bodily functions. These are in the form of proteins, carbohydrates, and essential fats, and they make up most of our diet.
Overall, the mechanism for creating body composition change would look like this:
Weight loss: Taking in less calories than energy expended
Weight gain: Taking in more calories than expended
Thus, a great start to tracking nutrition is simply, “eat better, sometimes less, and move more.”
Beyond that, before one starts counting or tracking calories, quality of foods should be considered. 100 calories of cookies is far less nutritionally valuable than 100 calories of lean protein and a variety of vegetables. Making simple changes for meals and snacks can already start to make some changes with your appetite and satiation, being able to actually eat more, and feel full for longer.
The next step is to then determine the amount of calories needed for your individual metrics (height, weight, age, gender) and your desired outcome/goal. This will be different for each person, especially when it comes to their activity level and lifestyle. There are several equations out there to determine your Resting Metabolic Rate (amount of calories your body burns when at complete rest), and machines such as the InBody can help with taking the guess work out for you, based on your composition. From there, a nutrition coach would be a great place to start in order to discuss specific calorie amounts, and the types of foods you should be eating to meet those calorie needs.
Beyond counting calories, your coach may also have you track your macronutrient intake. This will help further determine how much protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats you would be taking in during each meal throughout the day.
Other factors such as nutrient timing (e.g., having most of your healthy carbs near the time of your workouts) and supplementation (e.g., fish oil, multivitamin, whey protein, etc.) can even more effectively help you accomplish your goals.
If you are interested in learning more about your nutritional intake, or building better eating habits, schedule a free consultation with one of our nutrition coaches. CrossFit Des Plaines is here to help you meet your goals, and we all know we can’t always do it all on our own! Reach out, even if it’s for one conversation – it can give great insight.