Food is Fuel


How nutrition impacts the results you are going for in the gym

You’re hitting the gym hard these days – feeling stronger, feeling fitter, and noticing improved stamina.  In order to see changes in body composition, your workouts are essential! However, an equally important factor is your nutrition – what are you fueling your body with?

BMR and Fat Loss

In order to lose fat, we have to burn more calories than we are taking in, or create a calorie deficit. Your InBody measurement will tell you what your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate is.  This is the minimum amount of calories your body needs for basic bodily functions at rest over a 24 hour period, such as heart beating, eyelids blinking, breathing and maintaining body temperature.  Your BMR accounts for about 60-75% of your daily calorie expenditure. Non-exercise movement and exercise movement account for 15-30% of total calories burned each day. About 10% of total calories burned each day are attributed to digestion of food.  Therefore, if you ate only the calories required by your BMR, and did not consume the calories burned during workouts and daily activities, you would create a calorie deficit quite easily.  A calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day should result in a 1-2 pound fat loss per week.

Fat Loss and Muscle Gain

But what if your goal is to lose fat AND gain muscle?  Gaining muscle along with losing fat is a fantastic goal for many reasons; you look great, you feel stronger and you are at reduced risk for injury.  Another great benefit of having a muscular body is that the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest.  Translation: you increase your BMR! Like a big car engine which requires more fuel to function, a body with more muscle mass needs more fuel (food) in order to maintain itself.  For every pound of muscle you gain, your body uses about 50 extra calories per day.

Macronutrients – the Fuel

It can be tricky to both lose fat and gain muscle, but it is possible.  The key here is your macronutrient intake.  Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  To keep your body in muscle -building mode, while cutting calories, you have to adjust your protein intake.  When you cut your calories below your daily requirement, your need for protein will go up since a portion of your dietary protein will be used to meet your energy needs.  Increasing protein consumption will allow enough extra to sustain and hopefully build muscle.  What about Carbohydrates or “carbs”? Are they friend or foe? Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in the diet industry but they are an important energy source during exercise.  During short, heavy exercise, it may be the only energy source for the working muscle.  Fat has also received its share of criticism because it is the most calorie-dense nutrient out there.  However, it is very important for body functions, acting as the backbone to important hormones, insulation for nerves, skin and hair health. In order to achieve your body composition goals, it’s a good idea to calculate the macronutrient requirements your body needs each day and divvy up your calories among macronutrients. This is often referred to as calculating your “macros”.

How Do I Calculate My macros?

There are a few different ways to do this.  You can allocate calories towards each nutrient according to a percentage split.  For example, a common split is: 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% fat.  It’s simple to then calculate the number of grams of each macronutrient you need.

Let’s say your caloric intake is 2000 calories per day, just to make things simple. 40% of your caloric intake is devoted to carbohydrates, so 2000 x 0.4 = 800 calories. There are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, so the total amount is 200 grams of carbohydrate (800 /4 =200). You then repeat the process for protein (4 calories per gram) and fat (9 calories per gram). It’s important to choose high quality proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  Not all sources of macronutrients are created equal!

Is this making sense?

If you are still a little cloudy on the topics of fat loss, muscle gain, macronutrients and food as fuel, please join trainers, Steven Thibert, Tina Klapperich and Mona Belyamani on Saturday March 31st 2018 at 11:00 am at Gold’s Gym Redmond.




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