A Calorie is like.. what is in food right? Well yes, but its a measurement. Huh?
To kick start this little journey of mine I wanna give ya some information on the basics. For me its always easier to set goals and make a plan when I know a little more about what it takes to get there…. can you say edumucation time!
The 3 questions we will answer today are:
Okay, so what IS a Calorie?
Do I haaaaave to count Calories?
How many Calories do I really need?
So calories can be a complex and intense subject, but for the sake of simplicity and keeping this post from becoming a novel I just wanted to touch on the basics and go through the questions above.
If you want to understand it on a deeper science-type level I encourage you to check out websites such as bodybuilding.com and others that really dive deep into the subject.
1. What IS a Calorie?
Its a way to measure something’s ability to create heat, so a Calorie is a unit of measurement for heat.
We need calories in order to fuel our body, it creates the energy we need to for both our life functions like breathing, digesting etc and voluntary activity like walking, jogging, lifting weights, or even getting in your car to drive to work.
With this in mind, it should make sense as to why we have a minimum amount of calories that need to be taken in in a given day. If your body needs heat to function, and the way to create that heat is to consume calories then we need enough for our body to do its thang and additional for our lifestyle activies, yes this even means to sit on the couch and raise the remote. This also opens the box to discuss why quality foods make for better energy then “unquality” foods (yes, I know unquality is not a word but it went well with my sentence), we can get into that part later, but for now just know that a calorie is a measurement and they are essential to live
So for question# 2 you’re going to love my answer!!
2. Do I haaaave to count calories?
You ready for this……..drum roll please (Griswolds drumroll of course)
I said No, you do not need to count calories, can you count them? yes. Is it vital to losing weight and staying healthy? No.
So before you go out and tell the world that you finally read what you wanted to hear, that you do not need to count those pesky Calories; let me clarify. What this means is you do not need to keep track of calories, this does not mean not tracking what you eat or making sure your not eating more than you burn. Because again for simplicity sake this is what getting fat boils down to….eating more than you burn….Now honestly there is much more to it than that but if you simply want to lose weight you just need to create a deficit and that can be done through diet, or exercise or both.
Okay so great Nicole, you take me hopes and build them sky high and then…BAM! Hopes…crushed.
Now wait…I said you don’t need to count calories, and you don’t, however lot’s of people do and it helps and you get results and its a great way to lose weight….shoot I even did it and I still do kinda, what I keep track of though is my Macronutrients, to me its easier. Macronutrients or Macros as they will be further referred to as, are the large or main (macro) nutrients: protein, carbs, and fats. Balance those and baby you are on you way. If your interested in more info about macronutrients and how they are easier to track click here.
3. How many calories do I really need?
This question has been plaguing me and still does. This one is tough to answer, everyone has their opinion on this and lot’s of people use different things to figure it out.
Wait…Nicole….you’re contradicting yourself, you said I did not need to count calories, so why then do I need to know how many I need.
Well even if you’re not counting calories everyday, and your keeping track of say your macros because you read my other awesome post; you still need to calculate what your body needs to do its basic functions and know how much more to support your lifestyle. This would be used as a guideline to set your diet around so you can happily know that when you sit down to enjoy some yummy grilled chicken and veggies for the millionth day in a row you can rest assure it won’t make you fat (because yes Virgina, even healthy food can make you fat)
So I use the Sterling-Pasmore Equation, this one in particular takes in to account body composition. I carry my weight in my lower body so depending on what type or device I am using to measure fat and lean body mass it gives me a different number. Now this one does require that you know your lean body mass, which you can find by doing this equation:
Body fat % X your current weight(in pounds)= pounds of fat
Pounds of fat – your current weight(in pounds)= lean body mass(pounds)
Lean body mass(in pounds) X 13.8 Calories (you need 13.8 calories per pound of lean body mass)= Calories needed for basic body functions or your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
Now we want to account for those voluntary activities pick which one is you most of the time and take your BMR calculated above and insert in the one you picked:
BMR x 1.2 for low intensity activities and leisure activities (sedentary)
BMR x 1.375 for light exercise
BMR x 1.55 for moderate exercise 3-5 days per week
Voila! You now know how many calories you need in a day!
Overall calories are important to measure and whether you want to actually count calories or track macros just keep in mind that there are many ways to do things and remember to focus on the goal, our goal here is not to journal about calories and how happy or sad they make us, the goal is to lose weight, to tone to gain muscle…… calories is just a tool to measure to achieve the bigger goal.