Calories are important, but there is more to it than JUST counting calories.
I have personally tested this theory while in college. I started personal training while in college and was taught that calories was the ONLY thing that mattered in fat loss. So with my goal of getting leaner I went from 192 down to 166. I did it solely by counting calories. My diet consisted of healthy foods like lean meat, good carbs, and protein shakes, but it included a lot of unhealthy foods like, pastas, Taco Bell, Burger King, and Jack In The Box. I remember regularly eating bagels and Red Bull WITH the sugar in it. Even though I ate this crap food, I still kept to my goal calories. This meant that I could only order a small cheeseburger and a 5 piece chicken nuggets instead of a value meal. The “diet” meal yields 550 calories versus 1200+ for the value meal.
I lost fat and reached my goal by only counting calories. I lost 22 lbs of fat and 3 lbs of muscle. You might think I lost the muscle because of the low quality food. This may have been the cause, but I was also doing too much cardio, balancing a 40 hour work week with full time school, not getting enough sleep, and taking in too much caffeine and fat burners. So not too bad of results given the situation.
- Paleo low carb
- Healthy Athlete
Each diet will have different percentages of carbs, fat, and protein. So, which one works best for you? The next step after determining calories is finding a solid macronutrient ratio that works for you.
Macros in Popular Diets
Here is a breakdown of “macros” for the diets listed above. This data was compiled by a common meal plan I made for each. I tried hard to be realistic and unbiased when creating these meal plans. Also know that the vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy versions of such with considerable effort to eat protein.
Know your calories and be consistent with them. If your calories change significantly from day to day, you won’t know if the changes are the result of different calorie amounts or marco percentages. Also, on more active days you may end up eating more calories. This is another factor to take note of.
Read my next blog in the Nutrition for Fat Loss series, Part 2.2: 5 Steps to Determining YOUR Macronutrient Percentages
1) JD Wright, MPH, J Kennedy-Stephenson, MS, CY Wang, PhD, MA McDowell, MPH, CL Johnson, MSPH, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC. Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients - United States, 1971—2000, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). February 6, 2004 / 53(04);80-82
2) Food database from www.myfitnesspal.com