Calories and my Goals

Published by Mark O'Donoghue on 23/07/2021 at 5:00pm

Have you ever wanted to lose weight but just could not get the number to budge?

Maybe you are the opposite and you have been trying to put weight on or to bulk up?

You could be a combination of both, or you may even be someone who has been losing weight for some time now, but it has begun to slowdown or plateau?

Then the information below may be what you are after, not only from a scientific view but also from the view of our trainers and specifically myself. At my heaviest I was 110kg and about 36% body fat. I was eating UberEATS and take out on the regular and although my training was good my intake was terrible. I did not like what I was seeing in the mirror and more importantly I did not like how I felt day to day. To top it all off this was a time after I had just finished my personal training qualification and an attached nutritional guidance course, opposite end of the goal, right? I now sit around 85kg and 18% bodyfat and feel much better for it!

A scale and measuring tape to depict common calorie based gym goals

If you are like me and have been around gyms or sports for a while, then you have probably also heard the sayings “Training is 10% gym and 90% nutrition” or “Abs are made in the kitchen” or “You cannot outwork a bad diet.” If you are also as stubborn as I am then you have probably thought the same of well just watch me. Unfortunately, with the knowledge I have now and even the practice of going through the process it is safe to say we hear these sayings a lot because they are true. Enough of my story, let u get to the point of why you are here, to learn how to eat for a goal!  

A screenshot of the linked TDEE calculator for a reference to the site to learn how many calories are burnt in a day

Firstly, what is your goal? “To lose some weight” is a common goal we hear or the reverse of “To put on some weight.” That is a great start but how much is some? Would you be happy with 1kg lost or gained? Find out a number and give yourself some goals along the way, if your end goal is 10kg of fat loss, that is great, but it is not going to happen overnight so let us set some goals along the way, maybe your first goal is to lose 2kg, then we can build on that momentum from there! 

So how do we lose or gain that weight? Well, we need to do some calculations, I know math is not the most exciting thing in the world but luckily there are already calculators available and all you have to do is put in your numbers. Head to the below site and plug in your data

https://tdeecalculator.net/ 

If you do not know anything you can check in with your latest InBody scan or organise a time for one in the future as seeing exactly what you are made of is always a big help. 

Once you know your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE you can start to set calories to achieve your goal. What is a calorie? A calorie is a unit of measurement for the energy of food. If our daily intake of calories is less than our TDEE (a deficit) we lose weight, if it is more (a surplus) then we gain weight and if it fluctuates around equal then we maintain weight. It really is that simple, the hard part comes in planning, tracking, and staying consistent with both your food and activity level given at time of TDEE calculation. The benefit of knowing your TDEE is that you can incorporate whatever diet, meal plan or even specific meals you enjoy into your day-to-day life while working towards your goal. Heard of Keto and how it is the best new diet? It works because you are in a deficit. What about intermittent fasting? Deficit. Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian? Deficit. All these diets and plans work only when in a deficit, you can be a vegan and still put on weight which is fantastic news if that is your goal. If you are unsure on how to setup a meal plan or track calories, there are plenty of apps available as well as websites that we will link at the bottom for you to research into or follow up on. As a quick guideline we recommend no more than a 500-calorie deficit per day to begin with on your weight loss journey as that will be a gradual decrease and you will not be losing weight at a rapid pace, which can have some unwanted side effects of muscle loss, fatigue, and the development of unhealthy eating habits. For weight gain we recommend a steady increase of 250 calories per day to decrease the likelihood of putting on fat over muscle which should be your desired goal if you are trying to add weight! Remember to check in with your TDEE regularly as your body starts to shift your overall TDEE will change with it this is a pre-emptive step to avoid plateauing.

“So, I know how much I should be eating, but what should I be eating?” That is a great question, one that is more suited towards a registered dietician or your doctor especially if you have any previous medical concerns or ongoing health problems. If you consider yourself a healthy individual, then you have the option to experiment and trial your food plan without a great risk as you can always chop and change, as necessary. My first recommendation would be to get your calories in line with your goal and however you hit those calories for the first few weeks will be enough to start a change. Once you start to change is when your protein intake will become more important to mitigate some of the previously mentioned unwanted outcomes. Again, personally I have used and recommend quite a high protein intake from the normal recommendations of 1.6g to 2.2g of protein per kg of body weight. This would mean for someone who weighs 100kg you would be looking at a daily protein intake of 160g to 220g. The rest of your diet would come from carbohydrates and fats in whatever amount you like. If you enjoy breads, pastas, and cereals your carbs at the end of the day would be higher.

A decorative picture of a pasta meal to coincide with the liking of carbs in the text

Summary

  • To lose weight you need to eat less calories in a day than your total daily energy expenditure.
  • To gain weight you need to eat more calories in a day than your total daily energy expenditure.
  • To maintain your current weight, you would need to eat around the same as your total daily energy expenditure.
  • Protein is the most important of the macros if you want to maintain or increase muscle mass during your goal with fat and carbohydrates being interchangeable depending on preference.
  • If you have any underlying medical conditions, intolerances to foods or are not sure on food in general then I highly recommend you visit a registered
    dietician or your local GP before you make any significant changes to your diet.

Apps and websites for tracking and planning

  • https://www.fatsecret.com.au/ – a good source of information regarding the calories and macro breakdown of foods, as it is AU based you can find some more local brands for comparison.
  • Carbon – Smart Diet Coach – A paid app that is available on most smart phones and can automatically workout your calories and macro breakdowns for your goal. 
  • MyFitnessPal – A calorie tracking app available on most smart phones 
  • Excel – If you are confident in your spreadsheet abilities you can set out a meal plan ahead of time that matches your targets 
  • Pen and paper – If you are not confident in your spreadsheet abilities you can always sit down with a pen and paper and workout your plan the old-fashioned way
  • There are other apps and websites available that you can find information from if you just search for “Calories in …” or “Calorie tracking” in your phone’s app store.