DIET AND CALORIES – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
In order to survive we need to eat. In order to live well we need to eat well. In order to lose body fat we need to be consuming less than what we’re expending. In order to put on muscle we need to be consuming more than we’re expending. All facts. And on a daily basis I get asked a plethora of questions around diet and calories, the majority of which are repeat questions. So, I’ve decided I’m going to address some of the most common questions I get asked around these two topics. When it comes to achieving your targets (remember, I’m not a fan of the term ‘goals’), take a note of some of these questions and my advice on them – it may just be the answers you’re looking for.
Without further ado…
James, what are calories and what are macros?
We obtain energy from food. Calories are very simply the units of energy in food. We all have calorie requirements depending on our activity levels and the energy we get from food and is delivered to our body is what fuels us each day. If we consume more calories than we expend, we will put on our weight. Fact. If we expend more energy than we consume we will lose weight. Fact.
Macro-nutrient is a type of food, and the 3 macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These should make up the majority of what we eat and we should be looking to get a good balance of all three. A healthy diet generally consists of 45-65% carbohydrates, 15-20% fats and anywhere between 15-30% protein (these are rough guidelines).
Carbohydrates: Fruits, wholegrain rice, wholemeal pasta/bread, oats, quinoa, potato
Fats: Oils, avocado, nuts, chia seeds, nut butters
Protein: Chicken, fish, tofu, beans, pulses, nuts, raw greens (kale, spinach), quinoa
How do I know how much I should be eating?
Again, an easy way to understand your food requirements is by using an online calculator. Here’s one I’d recommend which will give you a rough guideline as to what amount of macros you should be consuming:
How do I know how many calories I need to consume/burn based on my targets?
One the best ways of understanding how many calories you need to be consuming in order to achieve your goals (weight loss, muscle gain, maintenance etc.) is to use an online calculator. Here you can get an idea of how many calories you burn every day. The one I recommend is:
Remember, it’s a guide, but it will give you a far better indication than not knowing at all
What kind of food should I be eating?
To be specific, I’d have to know more about you as an individual. Equally, I’m not a qualified nutritionist or dietician, only a nutritional advisor. So my general advice and what I always try and do is as follows: I aim to always have veg on my plate as priority. The rest is then filled with protein, usually fish or chicken (I’ve cut down massively on red meat), then a carb and fat. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair and maintaining muscle mass. It’s also very filling and can be used as energy when the other sources (carbs/fats) aren’t available. There is this myth that you have to cut out carbs to lose weight. It’s utter shit. Your body needs carbs for energy (it is the number one source of it) so if you’re training you should try and include it in every meal! Fats are a great part of our diet for many reasons (I won’t go into) but trust me on this, get them in there.
How many meals a day should I have and is skipping breakfast bad?
Whether you eat all of your calories in 1 meal (don’t recommend this. At all), you spread them out over 6, you skip breakfast and eat them all over lunch and dinner, IT DOESN’T MATTER. As long as you are getting in your required calorie intake it’s fine. Personally, I like to have 3 bigger meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and then 2-3 smaller snacks in between. I’ll always eat at least 2 hours before I train, and when I train in the morning I always train fasted (meaning I don’t eat anything before).