Calories and Nutrients: Why does it matter?
Focus: A big misconception for starting a training program is that the client has to cut calories in the most drastic way in order for them to see results. The goal here, today, is to differentiate the importance and the role of each: calories and nutrients.
It is really important to know that whenever you dive into something brand new, always be open to your coach's approach (or the program you chose to try out), be curious and ask questions (or be ready to do more research outside of the program plan if you're on your own), and also try as much as you can to take ALL information you acquire and formulate the best combination of tips and tricks that will impact the most in YOUR program. Your coach should be helping you with this.
Everyone's bodies, their lifestyles, and their adherence to programs will always be different and therefor yield different results at a different rate of progress!
Side note: When starting a Personal Training program with anyone, I am still surprised when potential clients often expect me to either a) slash their caloric intake in half from the get-go; b) send them off with a list of "DO NOT EAT" foods; and/or c) slap their hands every time they even think of "forbidden" foods (oooh! birthday cake!! personally my fave).
Just like in life- you have the CHOICE to eat what you want to eat, and when you want it. I'll tell you from the start that my job is NOT to damage your mindset, your metabolism, or your understanding of food and its relationship to your goals. As un-sexy as it may sound, I will tell you from the start that this can and will be a long journey if you're up for it. I do NOT have the magic pill or a quick gimmick for you; however, I DO have the tools and guidance to offer you as long as you're here to learn about what it is that is not getting you to your goals and why.
So with all that in mind, I introduce to you: Calories and Nutrients!
If you have already checked out the MissFit Training Nutrition Quickstarter Nutrition Guide HERE, you'll notice that there is no calorie counting, no "Do Not Eat" list, and no food shaming. Most of the categories there are easy places to start anyone on their improved nutrition journey. I am sending this out because it's been working for most of my clients in the last 3 years of constantly putting this together.
The emphasis to this guide is to first direct you to more quality NUTRIENTS in your diet. Chances are your current diet is mostly browns and golds (majority of American diets are fatty, meaty- in the "bad" fatty way, fried, and/or wrapped in bacon) which means you're lacking in some really great benefits from those colorful options you (surprise!) actually have access to!
OR if you're in the SF Bay Area where "OMG- kale is the new spinach!" then you're probably not eating ENOUGH calories period because you are highly paranoid of gaining 45 lbs if you even think of eating "those carbs".
Whichever way you lean on that spectrum, the thing is, if you aren't familiar with the role of both calories and nutrients, then you're probably not going to get to your goals as quickly as you'd like. This is just a super quick run down of each. Calories give you actual energy (takes calories to be created through food intake, and burned off through activity via metabolism). Nutrients provide the sources in which the energy can be metabolized (vitamins, minerals, and water all play a hefty role in the process of building or breaking down calories)
So pretty much, YOU NEED BOTH.
I often give these 4 examples to explain the differences:
- HIGH CALORIE & HIGH NUTRIENT Density: AVOCADOS! These are a great choice because of their fatty nature. This is good because of the type of fats they have and therefor are a highly nutritious food source. Choosing this fruit can help in reducing saturated fats in your diet and lowering overall and LDL blood cholesterol levels.
- HIGH CALORIE & LOW NUTRIENT Density: Enter my favorite celebratory food of choice, CAKE! Cake is a picture-perfect example of a food that is highly processed and contains many calories with NO benefit of any nutrients to work for your body. These types of foods generally provide low (true) energy and a lot of empty (useless!) calories, leaving you feeling hungry and wanting more and more. This type of food contains a lot of sugars leading to the inevitable weight gain, and many chronic medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
- LOW CALORIE & HIGH NUTRIENT Density: TUNA! Canned tuna is a great go-to because of how jam packed they are with nutrients (literally). It is an easy snack with low calories (if that is within your personal programming for nutrition) but more importantly contains impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and proteins, and low in saturated fats or sodium. Mix it in with some greek yogurt (in lieu of mayo) and you've got yourself a power house snack!
- LOW CALORIE & LOW NUTRIENT Density: BREAD! Although there are better options now for this category of foods, in the grand scheme of things there are better carbohydrate options out there (again, this depends on your specific goal and the individual's programming). Just like our cake example, these foods are typically highly processed, have added more chemicals and sugars, and may have been pumped with synthetic vitamins and minerals after heavy processing. This means that you're still going to be left with empty calories in the end and wanting more of this type of food, more frequently. Having a piece of bread once in a while is not going to slay your results- but being highly unaware of what you're eating and how often can and will reflect on your overall progress.
I hope these examples and categories help you decide on your food choices better in the long run. If you're completely lost still, here's an even simpler way to choose your food:
The more raw or natural you can make your meals, the better. Less processing, less manipulation of the food source, and less hassle for its availability for you to eat it, all lead to more quality driven choices in your big-picture nutrition program. This is not to say you shouldn't cook your food, but it is an easier concept to process for most of my clients than to have them stressing out over what they cannot eat (food restriction diets). QUALITY IS KEY! :)
Please remember that all these are concepts and starting points within the Nutrition Quickstarter Guide. As with everything, be sure to do more research on your own or consult with your coach!
For more info and for any specific questions and concerns regarding your personal nutrition, check out the MissFit Nutrition Quickstarter Guide or contact me directly! I'll be happy to help direct you on the right path :)