I often deal with clients wanting to lose or gain weight who, while very consistent with their workouts, just can’t seem to reach their goals. The truth is, nine times out of ten they are not eating properly to meet their goals.
So let’s make it very simple…if you want to gain weight, you have to eat more calories, if you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. You can get a general idea of how many calories you should have a day based on your gender, age, physical activity and goals here.
For those wanting to lose weight, keep in mind that 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat. If you want to lose a pound a week, you must create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. However, keep in mind that if you are including resistance or strength training into your workout, you are also building muscle which burns more calories than fat. Therefore, you will have to add more calories to your count over time to support your body’s basic needs. And just so we’re all on the same page, eating less than the recommended amount of calories for your body’s basic needs leads to a whole mess of problems, so make sure not to go under your baseline needs for everyday functioning.
For those wanting to gain weight, you will need to add more calories to your current diet using calorie rich food and weight gainers.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how much you should be eating to get to your fitness goals, you can start to make small changes to get to the caloric intake that is right for you. Take a look at the nutrition labels as you choose your food and adjust portion sizes accordingly for your needs. You don’t have to be a calorie counter to reach your ideal weight, but you should have a basic understanding of where you are so you can get to where you want to be.
*For those of you who want to track your calories more thoroughly, you can check out myfitnesspal.com (which is also available as an app) or get a wearable device that tracks your activity and helps you manage your caloric intake such as the BodyBugg or GoWear Fit.