January – Day 6/31

This one has a bit more body to it. We’re going to look at macro-nutrients or “macros”.

All food stuffs are made up of three macro-nutrient groups: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Each of these macro-nutrients are essential to the healthy function of our bodies. Let’s have a look at what each of them does and why we need them:

PROTEINS – Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the building blocks of body tissue and can also serve as a fuel source.

Here are a couple of lists to help you get your head around the foods that contain protein and how much they contain. Note: 3oz = 85g, 1oz = 28g, 1 cup = 237ml.

FATS – Fats are a type of nutrient that you get from your diet. It is essential to eat some fats, though it is also harmful to eat too many.

The fats you eat give your body energy that it needs to work properly. During exercise, your body uses calories from carbohydrates you have eaten. But after 20 minutes, exercise then depends on calories from fat to keep you going.

You also need fat to keep your skin and hair healthy. Fat also helps you absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, the so-called fat-soluble vitamins. Fat also fills your fat cells and insulates your body to help keep you warm.

The fats your body gets from your food give your body essential fatty acids called linoleic and linolenic acid. They are called “essential” because your body cannot make them itself, or work without them. Your body needs them for brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting.

Fat has 9 calories per gram, more than 2 times the number of calories in carbohydrates and protein, which each have 4 calories per gram.

All fats are made up of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Fats are called saturated or unsaturated depending on how much of each type of fatty acid they contain.

CARBOHYDRATES – One of the primary functions of carbohydrates is to provide your body with energy with the majority of carbs being digested and broken down into glucose before entering the blood stream.

The glucose in the blood is taken up into the cells of the body and used to produce ATP (a fuel molecule) through cellular respiration. The cells then use ATP to power a variety of metabolic tasks.

ATP can be produced from several source, including dietary carbs and fats. If you eat a mix of these nutrients, the majority of your body’s cells will prefer to use carbs as their primary energy source.

Excess glucose can be stored for later use. This stored form of glucose is called glycogen and is found in the liver and muscle. In the liver, these molecules can be released into the blood to provide energy throughout the body and help maintain normal blood sugar levels between meals.

The glycogen stored in the muscles can only be used by the muscle cells; it is vital for use during long periods of high intensity exercise.

WHEN YOUR BODY HAS ALL OF THE GLUCOSE IT NEEDS AND YOUR GLYCOGEN STORES ARE FULL, YOUR BODY CAN CONVERT EXCESS CARBS INTO TRIGLYCERIDE MOLECULES AND STORE THEM AS FAT.

Glycogen stores are vital to ensure that the body has enough glucose for all of it’s functions.

Carbohydrates are not the enemy when it comes to weight loss but you do need to choose the right ones. Here’s a list of the best carbohydrate choices:

  • Vegetables: All of them. It is best to eat a variety of vegetables every day.
  • Whole fruits: Apples, bananas, strawberries, etc.
  • Legumes: Lentils, kidney beans, peas, etc.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
  • Seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  • Whole grains: Choose grains that are truly whole, as in pure oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.

Now, using MyFitnessPal I would like you to set your macro goals. You do this by going into the menu -> Goals -> Calorie, Carbs, Protein and Fat Goals -> input your calories at your specific allowance, then toggle the macros to 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, and 30% Fat. Click the tick and that should be your new goals saved. You can monitor these goals throughout each day by clicking into the nutrition section of the diary.

Carbohydrates contain around 4 calories per gram, proteins are also 4 calories per gram, and fats contain 9 calories per gram.

Note: your nutritional goals will automatically adjust through the day if you have your fitness tracker linked to your MyFitnessPal account. Ideally, I would like to you stick to your original allowances and not use the burned calories that the app automatically applies. Eg. if your calorie goal is 1500 calories and your doing the 40/30/30 ratio of macros then you should be only consuming the 1500 calories through 600 calories from carbohydrates (600/4=150g), 450 calories from protein (450/4=112.5g), and 450 calories from fat (450/9=50g). Ignore the auto-adjustments.

January – Day 4/31

According to research, people underestimate their calorie intake by up to one third.

ONE THIRD!! That’s a whole lot of calories that aren’t being accounted for.

It also makes it understandable as to why people who THINK they are eating the correct amount of calories for their weight loss aren’t actually losing any weight at all – they may be stuck at a certain weight or even gaining depending on how badly their intake is being incorrectly logged.

I’m not having a go here, I just need everyone to understand that you have to be accepting of everything you are consuming and know exactly how much you are having. It can be all too easy to forget about the caramel latte you had on the way to work, the couple of bourbon biscuits you sneaked into your gob in the tea room, the lashings of tomato sauce you had on that smoked bacon butty this morning… You get the picture.

It can also be super easy to incorrectly guestimate the weight of the foods you are eating and be WAY off. Say for example you have a roasted chicken breast, jacket potato and steam veg for your tea – great choices, lots of nutrient in this meal along with a variety of vitamins and minerals, fibre and satifying to boot BUT, how much have you had? How big was the chicken breast, was it cooked skin on or skin off, did you cook it in any oil or with any marinade? How big was the jacket potato, small, medium, or large, is your “medium” the same as someone else’s medium size. What were your steam veg? Did you have a pre-prepared pack? Did you eat a whole portion? Did you check what a recommended portion is? Have you just gone on MyFitnessPal and picked the options you WANT your food consumption to fit in to (Trust me, soooo many people do this; the only person you;re kidding is yourself). This isn’t even everything to consider and you can see there are already a list of things you need to be aware of.

If this is the case then what can we do to make sure we know what we are eating and that we are recording accurately?

It may sound super anal and a total faff to begin with but, the only way to really know exactly what you are eating is to WEIGH YOUR FOOD.

Ok, so I fully accept that I may have lost some of you at this point, and that’s ok, maybe you’re just not ready for the accountability it takes to make the changes you really need….

For those of you who are still here, well done. You accept that there’s a problem and that this is the solution. It’s not as much of a ball ache as it sounds and once you get into the habit of doing it, it becomes quicker and second nature to do so. All you need is a set of kitchen scales like these. Just remember if you are weighing your food raw or cooked and then select the correct option from MyFitnessPal when logging them.

You can do this to add recipes to MyFitnessPal too – just log all the weights of all the ingredients and then select how many portions it makes et voila, you have your portion calories (and macros – more about this at a later date).

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