Monday, September 23, 2013

Finding your weight loss numbers - part 2

Like I said last time, the idea of calorie balance is greatly over simplified. How much you eat is important, but what things you're eating is important too!

I think I've spoken before about the three main macronutrients (macros); carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

carbohydrate (carb): the body’s preferred energy source, dietary sources include sugars (simple) and grains, rice, potatoes, and beans (complex); stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver and is transported in the blood as glucose1
fat: an essential nutrient that provides energy, energy storage, insulation, and contour to the body1
protein: a compound composed of a combination 20 amino acids that is the major structural component of all body tissue1

Each of these different macronutrients plays a different role in the body.

There are so many components to a meal!

Carbohydrates are mostly used as an energy source, like gas for your car. It's the easiest way for your body to derive energy from food. You've heard of distance runners carb-loading before a big race? They're trying to increase their glycogen stores in order to fuel themselves during that marathon. Same reason people eat that energy goo and consume sports drinks during long bouts of physical activity.

Fats are also used for energy, allows you to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin's A, D, E, & K), and (when stored) allows your body to regulate its temperature. It's important to note that eating fat does not mean it will be stored on your person, eating fat does not make you fat. Dietary fat is also largely responsible for satiety, how full/satisfied you feel after eating. Fat is an essential nutrient that you should not be skipping out on!

Protein... protein is the macronutrient that I choose to focus on during this part of my life. Protein is the building block for muscle. It contains amino acids which your body needs to recover from the wear and tear you put on it during exercise. Literal wear and tear, when you stress your muscle, you create micro-tears. Those tears heal and the muscle becomes more robust. Neat, no? Protein also helps with satiety. It is important to note that only meat, soy, and quinoa are "perfect" or complete proteins; they contain all essential amino acids. Other foods contain some protein but are considered incomplete proteins because they don't contain all essential amino acids. Eat enough of the incomplete proteins and the thought is that you'll get all the essential amino acids from a variety of sources.

It's a lot, I know. Bear with me, there's a bit more coming. Img source

Okay, so how much are you supposed to eat of each macronutrient?!
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 20 to 35% of dietary calories come from fat, 10 to 35% from protein, and 45 to 65% from carbohydrate. All of these macronutrients, as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential in the proper amounts for optimal health.2

Eugh... how are you supposed to keep track of this stuff? Remember that MyFitnessPal application/website I told you about in my previous post? You can set custom nutrient goals! Just log in, go to "My Home", then "Goals", click "Change Goals" and select that you'd like to make custom goals.

That's pretty much it, that was the little bit more.

Traditionally, the American diet is full of fat and carbs, followed by a scant amount of protein. Making the switch to a healthier macronutrient breakdown is easy to start, then there's a period of time where your body starts to adjust and that part is hard. I've done it before, so I know what you're going to go through. Your body is going to crave fat and sugar hard. You're going to want to go bobbing for frozen cherries in a gallon of Cherry Garcia (yum).

But if you can keep at it for a few weeks to a month, your body adjusts, you start to want your healthier food and then you look back and wonder just how you survived before.


Like I said, I've gone through this process. If you want/need help, to talk about how badly you want to inhale a batch of cookie dough, or are looking for an amazing recipe for some cake that fits into your new macronutrtient goals, let me know! Use the comments section, use the email button in that right hand column. This is what I'm here for! :)

1ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 4th Ed


  1. Thank you for explaining the IIFYM thing a bit more to me! I was going to look into it further this week because I keep hearing about it and i think this is the next step in the process for me to delve deeper into! And hello your GIF's and pictures are the BEST!

    -Katie P

  2. IIFYM is seriously one of the greatest things. Have you read anything from Layne Norton? He has a bunch of articles floating around on and other fitness sites, he has a video blog too on his own site.

    It allows for so much dietary flexibility which I need in my life.