“I exercised today, so I deserve that burger and fries!”
Does the above sound familiar? It seems that whenever we encounter friends or clients who have just started exercising, this is one of the most common expressions we hear.
You can’t outwork a bad diet
While it might sometimes be said in jest, the reality is that this paradigm is actually severely holding many of you back from achieving your health and fitness goals.
I struggled with this in my initial years of my fitness journey. I kept thinking that the more exercise I did, the more calories I could consume. I would spend an hour in the gym lifting weights with little to no rest, then spend another hour on some sort of cardio, the more intense, the better.
Soaking in sweat and feeling good that I had probably burnt a lot of calories, I would then proceed to indulge in whatever I fancied. Imagine my puzzlement when I stepped on the scale and to my horror, my weight not only remained the same, but often times, would fluctuate up!
The reality was, my mental approach was flawed. How so? I was working really hard in the gym and definitely needed the calories right?
Eating is easier than exercising (DUH)
The main problem with this mindset is that it does not factor in how it is MUCH easier to overconsume calories then it is to expend it. You see, our bodies are very resilient and efficient. This means that we can actually do quite a lot of work on a modest amount of energy.
To give you an idea: a typical 70kg individual will burn only 73 calories with the effort required to run 1km in 5 mins. Heavier people will generally burn more, and vice versa.
How does 73 calories look like in terms of food?
Well, the average bowl of minced meat noodles (Bak chor mee) is 511 calories. Roughly translated, you need to run 7km in 35 mins just to burn the equivalent to 1 bowl of noodles! For the record, running at the pace of 1km per 5 mins is considered a pretty fast jog for most.
Now you can see why at Elevate 360 Nutrition, we focus on helping people with their eating habits. Helping people with controlling their consumption level of calories helps them towards their health and fitness goals much quicker and has longer lasting impacts. This is especially effective is quicker results in weight loss are required due to health problems occurring from being overweight with excessive fat.
Why exercise though?
Exercise is a fundamental factor for expending energy, (or as it is more commonly known, burning calories). However, the main function of exercise is to stress the body and provide it a stimulus and trigger to adapt and get stronger.
When you hit the weights hard, you signal to the body’s muscles, bone and other tissue that it is undergoing a tremendous stress by doing some damage to the tissue. In response, the body will make use of the available materials (nutrients from the food you intake) to not only rebuild the damage, but more, depending on how much food you provide it.
Maintaining good nutrition allows you to:
- Provide the body with the proper nutrients for it to build or retain muscle mass.
- Allow the body to recover from the previous exercise session in order to proceed with the next day’s session or daily activities.
- Maintain general health so that you don’t catch a cold or flu. We all know how falling sick can ruin all your daily plans!
Focus on finding balance in your nutritional approach and you can get the best of both worlds. You get to eat tasty and delicious healthy foods, as well as keep your diet flexible enough to indulge ever so often.
A simple solution
A simple way to get started on your fitness goals is to first find out how many calories you need to take in a day. Through our experience, you could use the following simple formula to get a start point for the total amount of calories you should aim for in a day.
For Men: Multiply your WEIGHT (KG) by 28.
For Women: Multiply your WEIGHT (KG) by 25.
As an example, if you are an 80kg man, you will start with 2,240 calories (80kg*28cal/kg). If you are a 65kg woman, you will start with 1,625 calories (65kg*25cal/kg).
There are a lot of complicated equations for calculating this, but the truth is, they are all estimates. The main thing to do is to establish a start point and adjust from there.
Once you have figured out what your start point is, simply eat accordingly. Treat this caloric amount as your daily budget and spend it as fully as possible, without going over or under this limit by more than 100 calories.
Do this for a 7 days, then weigh yourself at the end of the week.
Assuming you are looking to lose weight:
- If your weight is higher than before, drop 100 calories from your budget and repeat the process.
- If your weight is lower than before, carry on with your current intake.
Tracking at your fingertips
With the advent of mobile technology, tracking how much you eat has never been easier. One way to track your intake is through apps like MyFitnessPal.
It’s simple to use! Set up your account, key in your general details (most of these don’t really matter) and use it to track your intake.
One tip is to ignore most of the features of the app and only use the food tracking function. It will make your life much simpler and tracking how much you eat will provide you the best results.
If you have any questions, drop them down in the comments below! Alternatively, you can ask them here.
If you are looking for some help starting off on the right foot with your fitness, click here to check out our friends over at Elevate 360 Fitness, and book in your consultation!