UNDERSTANDING CALORIES AND DIETS
If you’re somewhat interested in fitness or if are somehow related to the fitness world, I bet you’ve heard the following phrase, “you should get on a diet”. Then you get all hyped up and type on google “best diet to loose weight” or “diet to loose body fat” or “diet to gain muscle” and come up with millions of results. Ranging from the 1,200 calories diet to Paleo Diet or Atkins or The Zone. But have you thought about what you really need to look for, you know, like what is the best diet plan for you.
I will try to explain a little bit how to understand the main concepts of some diets and try to summarize the principles of some of the most popular diets out there.
The main idea is that when you finish reading this you can have a more grounded idea on what diet adjusts better to your lifestyle and how you can eat to adjust your fitness and health goals.
WHAT ARE CALORIES?
First I think is very important for you to understand this concept, because you will hear it a lot and read about it everywhere. A calorie is a unit of energy, and refers to the energy consumed through physical and everyday activity and energy acquired through eating and drinking.
So an apple has 80 calories and walking 1 mile uses about 100 calories.
The number of calories a food has is the potential energy they posses. Here are the calorific values based on the main components of food.
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of fats = 9 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
Are you starting to understand why people count calories?
The idea is that you need to achieve certain caloric goal either to loose or gain weight.
If your total caloric expenditure per day is for example 2,500 calories and you want to loose weight, then you should eat less than 2,500 calories.
Side note: Your daily caloric intake is based on many factors, is not the same for everyone. It depends on your sex, weight, height, body shape, overall health, genetics, metabolism, etc.
There are some calculators online that can assist you with this… they ask you to put some information, and they would give you a somewhat accurate result. My advice is that take that result as a starting point and you can start adjusting, as you get closer to your goals. This is why you hear a lot “know your body”
So know that you have the one of the more important concepts in dieting I will talk a bit about the popular diets out there. And you want to know why they are popular? Cause they basically did all the work of calculating calories and came up with a summarized approach on what to eat and what not to eat.
PALEOLITHIC OR PALEO DIET
Who came up with this or when is not important. What you need to understand is the overall premise. It is based on the idea that this is the diet that works with our genetics (human, not you the specific reader) because the Paleolithic age comprised 2.6 millions in contrast to the 10 thousand years of agriculture.
So the food that you eat from this diet is basically the food that you can hunt or gather, such as meats, fish, fruits, vegetables and seeds and nuts. No salt, no sugar, no carbohydrates except from vegetables. If you can do without these then the paleo diet might just be the best diet for you.
I am not here to criticize; I just want you to know what’s out there. I’ve tried this diet, I’ve gotten excellent results from it, but I have to be quite honest it can be quite difficult to maintain, mostly because you have to avoid all processed foods.
It’s a High Protein, Low Carbohydrate diet. Since your keeping the carbs low you (and carbs are the primary source your body uses to consume energy) your body is forced to use the next available source, FAT. There is a lot longer explanation like Carbs turn into glucose, this glucose is transported, goes to the brain, but now is the ketones instead of glucose yada yada. What you need to know is that it uses fat as the primary source of energy.
It’s basically ATKINS bro. I’ve tried this as well, lots of fat shed, a little difficult to maintain unless you go with the MODIFIED KETO DIET, which is a cool and commercial way to say EAT CARBS WHEN NEEDED.
By modifying KETO you would adjust your carb intake to your physical activities.
NOTE: Carbs is the variable you need to manipulate to achieve your results. That is why almost all the diets play with it.
I have not tried this one. I will talk about it based on what I’ve read. It is very popular among crossfitters. They claim its primary concern is controlling your hormones. It is a balanced diet between Lean proteins (fish, meat, not fatty read meat), low glycemic carbs (like vegetables) and fats.
It is a 40/30/30 macronutrient diet, meaning 40% carbs, 30%proteins, 30% fats.
Based on the 2,500 calories guy 1,000 calories should come from carbs, 750 calories from proteins and 750 calories from fats.
It is basically a well balanced diet with a cool name.
I am a pretty straightforward guy and I like telling it like is, basically you just need to learn how to eat. Read a little, understand the principles, know that your body will benefit from good clean food. No matter what, the best diet for you means will have some of the same basic rules. Increase your proteins (meats, eggs, fish), lower your starchy carbs (flours, white bread) and increase your good carbs (veggies, oatmeal, sweet potato) and keep the bad fat in control (fried stuff basically) and say hello to the good one (nuts, avocado).
You don’t need to live under stress cause you didn’t eat exactly like the paleo book says. Have fun and enjoy the process.