Health and Fitness Fridays: Macros Part 4 – Carbs

So here we are on the last of the big three macro nutrients, carbohydrates. I must admit, while my numbers for fats have been where I have had problems, it’s the carbs that really taunt me. I definitely have a weakness for those starchy foods.

Thankfully as part of losing weight I managed to conquer those cravings and my carb ratio has been very good. But if I were to just have a big “cheat” day, it would be full of those glorious carbs. Omnomnom.

So what are carbohydrates?

Scientifically they are a molecule “consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, usually with a hydrogen: oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 (as in water); in other words, with the empirical formula Cm(H2O)n (where m could be different from n).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbohydrate

But really we are not here for the scientific definition of a carb.

In terms of diet, carbohydrates are used by the body for energy, by converting the carbs to glucose. The body can store glucose for the future or use it right away. Carbs are also good for keeping our central nervous system functioning properly and keeping our digestive system moving.

Carbohydrates get a bad rap because they are added to a lot of processed foods in their sugar and starch forms, but they are an essential part of your diet. Carbs can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, grains, seeds, legumes.

How many carbs should I consume?

It is recommended that carbs make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories. I have my carb macro set to 45%, which gives me 252g of carbs a day, and I generally don’t have a hard time hitting that level.

But how you make up those carbs is also important.

If you are following the “If it Fits your Macros” diet then in theory you can consume those carbs in any form. But foods with added sugar and refined grains don’t offer much nutrition for the number of calories they have. Instead try to eat carbs that are made of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

You can find more information on carbohydrates at the below links:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705?pg=1

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm

Weekly update

PhotoGrid_1427469434147 With the exception of yesterday, this week wasn’t bad. Yesterday we went to Costco and ate dinner there, so my fat intake was definitely over and my protein intake was low. Damn fries!

Other than that I felt like I was very much on point this week. I had to supplement my protein with powder on a couple of days, but that wasn’t a problem.

The other thing I have found is that when I am on point with my macros my calories are lower than they have been in the past and I don’t feel the cravings that I used to get.

Advertisements

Health and Fitness Fridays: Macros part 3 – Fats

Of all the macro nutrients, fats were probably the ones I was the least aware of. I mean I knew not all fats were bad for you, but which ones and why I had never bothered to figure out.

This week changed all that, I read up on all the fats and reviewed my diet to see where I fit in.

I found great information on www.heart.org and there was a bunch of articles regarding the different fats. Most of what I will be sharing I found out on this site. They also had a calculator to help set your fat macro with regards to the different types of fats.Capture

Fat tends to get a bad rap. It has been blamed for raising cholesterol and increasing risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. While this isn’t entirely untrue, it is not all fats that cause these problems. The big culprits here are saturate fats, hydrogenated oils and Trans fats. These are the fats that you want to avoid. Unsaturated fats, like Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats, are an essential part of a balanced diet.

ginormousThis infographic is a good breakdown of the fats, what foods to find them in and their effect on the body.

So how was I doing with fats? The short answer is not well. But I already knew that. Part of the reason behind reviewing my macros was that I was eating too much fat. Some days it was 50% of my intake, which is not good.

It’s not all bad news though. On normal days, my consumption of trans fats is very low and my saturated fat intake is right where it should be. (One recommendation said saturated fats should be 1/3 of your fat intake).
The problem with my fat intake occurs on my bad days. This is where my saturated fat goes through the roof. Usually it’s PhotoGrid_1426864912814only one or two food items that cause this, so this is
what I need to watch.

With the exception of Monday, this week I was much better at hitting my overall percentages. But I had a few days where I went over on my fat. Specifically, wings night on Wednesday was a killer.

I also found it hard to really track my fats because many labels don’t list the unsaturated fats. They have saturated or trans because that is mostly what people care about.

One of my goals for next week is to look more closely at my saturated fat intake to see where I can cut back on that, especially on my bad days.

Stay Tuned next week is carb week!

Health and fitness Fridays: Eat More to Weigh Less

When I started on my weight loss journey I was like everyone that was new to this. I had no clue. I put my numbers into MyFitnessPal and was on my way.

These numbers weren’t “wrong” but they weren’t right for me either. I had set my goal to lose 1.5 pounds a week, a number that I never ever hit on my journey. I averaged one a week.  I had a net goal of 1300 calories which meant I was eating in the range of 1600 to 1900 a day depending on my exercise.

I was hungry constantly.

The hungrier I got, the more I began to think that this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. So I started researching.

Knowledge is power, and I researched any diet plan or weight loss method I could find. I wanted to find the way that would work for me. The overwhelming results from that research was that you didn’t have to starve yourself to lose weight.

Wait, what!?!?! You don’t have to be hungry all the time. Mind blown!

BMR and TDEE

Basically to lose weight there are two numbers you need to know, your BMR and TDEE. All the rest can be considered fluff (In my opinion at least).

So let’s start with BMR.

What is it? Well Wikipedia says it is: “Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimal rate of energy expenditure per unit time by warm-blooded animals at rest.” In plain English that means that it is the number of calories you burn each day if you did absolutely nothing.

So why is this number important? Well basically it’s the minimum amount of food you need to be eating, you should aim never to eat below that number.

There are a number of ways to calculate your BMR, and there are a plethora of calculators online. One of my favorites is from Fat2Fit Radio and can be found here http://www.fat2fittools.com/tools/

So next is TDEE.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the amount of calories your body needs to function in a day. This sounds very close to BMR but with one subtle difference. TDEE takes into account the activities you perform in a day while BMR does not. BMR only calculates what you need to eat if you stayed in bed all day.

Typically you get to your TDEE by placing yourself into different activity categories. The more exercise you do, the higher your TDEE.

What it comes down to is the TDEE is how many calories you need to eat in a day to maintain your current weight.

How does this help you lose weight?

If you want to lose weight, all you do is eat less than your TDEE. Generally this should be a 15-20% reduction. But keep in mind that this should also be more than your BMR. Essentially you want to be eating between these two numbers.

Let’s run my calculations.

I am 5’7 and 144 lbs.  From the Fat2Fit tools my BMR is 1442 calories, and my TDEE is 2487 because I am very active.

If I wanted to lose weight, I would take 15% off of 2487. That is a reduction of 373 calories for a daily intake of 2114 calories. That’s not too shabby, and certainly won’t leave me hungry.

I realize that it sounds complicated at first, but once you have it figured out, it makes weight loss so much easier.

As you lose weight or change your activity level your BMR and TDEE will also change, so it is important to recalculate every so often to keep on track.