How Much to Eat: Finding Your Caloric Range
This process starts with determining your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This number is how many calories you'd burn if you stayed in bed all day; the number of calories your body uses just staying alive. Age makes your BMR go down and not eating enough food makes your BMR go down. There are tons of calculators online that you can use, like this one here. For any mathematicians or scientists out there who get off on numbers, here are the actual formulas:
|BMR calculation for men (metric)||BMR = 66.5 + ( 13.75 x weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 x height in cm ) – ( 6.755 x age in years )|
|BMR calculation for men (imperial)||BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.76 x age in years )|
|BMR calculation for women (metric)||BMR = 655.1 + ( 9.563 x weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 x height in cm ) – ( 4.676 x age in years )|
|BMR calculation for women (imperial)||BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )|
As we mentioned, BMR is just what your body burns being at complete rest. Obviously, even really inactive folks do more than just stay in bed all day and night, so you need to add in an "activity factor" to your BMR. You can do that with these numbers:
|Little to no exercise||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2|
|Light exercise (1–3 days per week)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375|
|Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55|
|Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725|
|Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts)||Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9|
If you are unsure where you fall with activity factors, go with the lesser one. More often than not, you don't burn as much/aren't as active as you think you are. Once you have your BMR plus activity factor, that's the number of calories you would need to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight at a healthy rate of 1 pound per week, you would need to reduce your magic daily number by 500 calories, either by increased exercise or cutting it from your diet/caloric need.
What To Eat & The Makeup of Your Meals
While how much to eat is just a simple numbers game, what to eat is a wee-bit more complicated. People choose to utilize various nutrition and dietary guidelines: some prefer vegetarian/vegan, paleo, etc. The USDA puts out this as a guideline:
This isn't "horrible" and is certainly better than the old pyramid; BUT - for our nutrition, we'd make a couple tweaks: make the grains much smaller, less dairy (or at least organic, grassfed, hormone-free dairy only) and increase the protein. Unless you have specific dietary guidelines (like vegan and the others we mentioned before), this is definitely a good place to start!
You should try to have the makeup of your meals the same throughout the day: a good amount of protein, some wholesome carbs (vegetables are the preferred!), and a little bit of healthy fat.
Timing of What You Eat
Hmmm....tricky. For the lay-person, someone just getting started, or someone just wanting to live a more healthy lifestyle, it can be pretty simple: eat the bulk of your carbs early in the day, eat when you are hungry, and try to have smaller meals more often rather than just one or two humongous meals. Pre and post workout nutrition is also important (Pre: slow digesting, fibrous carbs and lean protein; Post: fast digesting proteins and carbs). Now the reason we say tricky is because this is an area we are still researching ourselves, mostly about the concept of intermittent fasting. More to come on that in the future, but for now, just K.I.S.S. with the basic rules!
Okay - how ya feelin? Don't get overwhelmed - it really is not that scary! Figure out your caloric intake for either maintaining or losing weight, eat the good stuff, and taper what you eat throughout the day.
If you are interested in discussing this information on a more individualized level, let us know! We'd be glad to consult with you and develop a plan based around your personal goals and needs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook!
Part 1 of Nutrition 101 is done! Keep an eye out for Part 2!!
Timothy and Lindsay