How Many Calories?
Up until the time I started working out with P90X a few years ago, I never really worried about calories and what they meant and how to calculate them or any of that. Then, I got obsessed with calories and how to calculate them and what they meant. I guess in order to figure out how many calories you need to eat every day, you first need to understand what a calorie is. A Calorie is simply a measurement of energy. In scientific terms, it is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1 Gram of water 1 degree Celsius. It is equal to 4.18400 Joules. I know you are thinking….WHAT!!!???? Well, it is really just simply that. A lot of people don’t even know what they are except that a calorie is a bad thing that food contains. That couldn’t actually be further from the truth. A calorie is something that you NEED to live. You’ve seen me use this analogy before but it is true. Think of it like a steam locomotive. Calories are the coal that fuels the fire that turns the water into steam that drives the engine. Without coal, a steam engine slows down, the fire goes out and it stops. Without calories you die. Too much coal and the fire gets smothered and goes out and the steam engine slows down and the fire can go out. Too many calories and your body stores them and you can literally die before your time. So, what is the balance? How many calories do you need to live an optimal life? Hopefully, this will help you some.
How Many Calories do I need to lose weight?
As a general rule of thumb, 3,500 calories is equivalent to about 1 lb. So, if you want to lose 2 lbs a week, you have to have a calorie deficit of about 7,000 calories. Now, you’ve probably heard that before. That shouldn’t be new news to you if you have read things and paid attention and done any amount of research. How many calories you need though, depends on the TYPE of calories. This may be new news to you. There are good calories and bad calories. Some experts call them empty calories. Empty calories are calories that add weight but not nourishment. They are like wet coal on a fire. They come in the form of sugary drinks and just about anything you get from a fast food joint, minus the salads of course. Good calories are typically foods that have one ingredient and come without labels. These are proteins, fruits and vegetables. So, the number of calories you need will depend on the type of calories you take in. Here is the thing, although calories are calories, some calories can actually fire up your metabolism while others, in improper amounts, can actually slow your metabolism down. There are a lot of sites out there that have calculators that can tell you how many calories to eat per day. My recommendation is to do a few of them and see what they all say. Remember, these are based on a bell curve. You may need more or less calories depending on your body type, energy level, metabolism, workout intensity, muscle tone and development, and all of that. So, to say you need X amount of calories is just wrong. Any trainer that tells you that, run from them. They can give you guidelines but no one can say with certainty. One this is for sure though. Too many calories and you gain weight. Too few calories and you will lose muscle tone and your metabolism will slow dramatically. You want to keep the fire stoked by eating enough of the right kind of calories.
How many calories do I REALLY need?
I was at a Tony Horton Fitness Camp a few years ago and someone asked Tony that question. He said he didn’t know. They asked him how many calories he ate a day and he said he didn’t know. I was stunned. This is the creator of P90X, the man who can get you ripped in 90 days. He is ripped now at 55 and he has now clue how many calories he eats in a day. I’ll never forget what he said though. He said he eats for fuel and not for fun and he allows himself a little chocolate as a treat once in awhile. He stops eating before he gets stuffed and he eats good clean food. He also drinks a lot of water every day so he is never dehydrated. That has stuck with me and when he said that, I stopped counting calories too. It is basically simple. Eat foods with one ingredient. Eat for fuel and not for fun. Drink plenty of water. It all takes care of itself from there. The bottom line on all this is, if you go into starvation mode to lose weight, you’ll burn muscle and you’ll end up being skinny fat. You’ll have no muscle tone and you won’t look good. If you eat too much, you may build muscle but you’ll never see it under the fat. So, eat for fuel and not for fun and eat clean. I have a friend who is a coach also and she says this and you can try it and see what happens. No Dairy, No Sugar, No Gluten, No Processed Food and No Alcohol. Try it for 30 days and see how you feel. Let me know if you need anything. I’d LOVE to help you on your fitness journey!!!