Healthy Eating: Calories, Protein, & Carbs

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Healthy-eatingA friend of mine recently posted a question on Facebook about trying to lose weight and net calories. If you have a calorie goal of 2000 calories per day and you exercise and burn 1000 calories, does that mean you have to eat 3000 calories now, or still focus on your goal of 2000 calories?

There are many diets out there and lots of talk about calories and healthy eating. To answer the question above, it basically comes down to your workout routine and what you’re trying to do with your body. There are a quite a few apps out there that let you track your calories. One of my favorites is MyFitnessPal.

Caloric Surplus

This happens when you consume more calories than you burn. Since your body has to do something with the extra calories, it will either build muscle or build fat, or a combination of both.

If you’re on a 2000 calorie diet and consume that in a day, but only do enough exercise to burn 500 calories, you’ll end up with a caloric surplus.

Caloric Deficit

This happens when you burn more calories than you consume. Since you’re not giving your body enough calories, it will find an alternate source of energy which means your body would use your stored fat for energy or use your muscle tissue for energy.

If you’re on a 2000 calorie diet and consume that in a day, and exercise enough to burn 3000 calories, then you’ll end up with a calorie deficit.

The Difference

Every person’s body is different so it is important to find what works right for you. Calories is only a part of the puzzle though. Whether you’re doing a surplus or a deficit, it all comes down to your diet and exercise. There are healthy calories and unhealthy ones. By having a workout that focuses on different muscles and eating good calories, you can tell your body whether you’re wanting it to focus on fat or muscle.

My Two Cents

I started my most recent fitness journey in 2013. I’ve tried different diets and workout routines. My most recent focus has been muscle gain over burning fat, but I would still like to accomplish a combination of both. My workout routine has a combination of weights and cardio and different days of the week.

The best pieces of advice I can give is to watch what you eat and eat everything in moderation. Cheat days are fine as long as you still cheat in moderation. I actually focus more on my carb and protein intake than I do calories. My goal in a day is to eat twice as much protein as carbs. If I consume 50g of carbs, I would like to have 100+g of protein that day. Protein helps your body burn fat and build muscle. After a workout, try to have a protein shake or other form of high protein food within an hour of working out.

Another piece of advice is to have protein in the morning and before bed. By having a large amount of protein in the morning, it will jump start your metabolism. The earlier the better. By consuming a large amount of protein before bed, you’re allowing your body to work while you sleep since your body has to workout in order to digest the protein.

If you’re looking at protein powders, look for whey protein isolate. That is the best form of protein for your body. whey protein isolate is more pure than concentrate but it can be a little more costly.

Ideally, you should try to consume 25-50g of protein every 3 hours. This ties into the next piece of advice, and that is to consume multiple small meals throughout the day. Instead of eating 3 large meals, try to eat 5 or 6 smaller meals to keep your body working throughout the day.

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