I had a great conversation last week with someone that started by them telling me that they don’t know how to control the number on the scale. It led me to realize how fearful this person was to eat because they were not sure how it would change the number. It made me sad to hear this. I spent the next hour explaining to them what I am writing about today.
Why do we gain weight? It moves up and down based on what you eat and your activity levels, period. The tricky part is that we are inconsistent therefor weight loss and weight gain is inconsistent. Most people spend their entire lives gaining and losing 15-20 pounds and never being happy with their body.
For years I have used three words to summarize healthy eating – QUALITY, QUANTITY & BALANCE. In this message I will specify what each one means and why they influence weight gain or weight loss.
QUALITY – this means what you eat. Is the quality of the food item healthy or not? The easiest way to guide you here is to choose foods that are single ingredients. The more foods you eat that are single ingredient the better.
What are examples of single ingredient foods? Fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, nuts, and some others but the best way to determine if it is single ingredient or not is to ask yourself what is in this food item? If the answer is more than one thing then it is not single ingredient. I like for 90-95% of the food I eat to be single ingredient.
QUANTITY – this means how much you eat. If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight – even if it’s healthy. This is something I have learned through my fitness journey because I eat a lot. I have a big appetite. I have to be mindful of how much I am eating or else I will gain unnecessary pounds.
How many calories should you eat? In the past twenty years of helping people with their nutrition the number that I have found will help the majority of people determine total number of calories is bodyweight times ten (BW x 10). This is the minimum number of calories someone should eat assuming they are following the other two principles I address in this message (quality and balance). You can’t just eat this number of calories of junk food and think that you will lose body fat.
One thing to keep in mind is activity level. If you workout and your goal is to maintain weight, build muscle and lose fat then you would need to eat more calories than this. I weigh 200 pounds and eat around 3500 calories per day because my goal is not to lose weight. My goal is to eat healthy and fuel my body to meet the physical demands I put on it through daily activity.
BALANCE – this means the types of foods you are eating in the form of carbohydrate, fats and proteins. You need to balance these and be mindful of getting a healthy distribution of all three. You cannot eliminate one of these. You need all three in healthy proportions to each other.
This one may require more details in the form of video explanation or phone call. Just know that you need all three and the proper balance of these three will influence weight loss or weight gain. If you are interested in learning what a healthy balance of carbs, fats and protein would be send me a message asking for it.
My personal balance of these is about 250 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbohydrate and 120 grams of fat. This sounds like a lot of food and it is but my weight stays the same year round so it does not cause me to gain weight. I also follow the quality principle with this breakdown.
I want to encourage you to become a student of how you eat and determine what works best for you. Learn what works best for your body. Losing body fat is not a mystery. Losing fat is controlled by what you eat (quality), how much you eat (quantity) and the ratio of carbs, fats and protein you eat (balance). It is the three of these working together that determine the outcome. You cannot simply pick one and think it works. You must apply all three simultaneously.
If you need help please reach out to me. Most people need accountability when they embark on this journey. That is how I help my clients. I hold them accountable to their goals. Sometimes we make adjustments along the way based on what works best for them. If that sounds like something you need let me know.