How Much Food Is Enough?

There have been multitudes of various different recommendations from WHO, the FDA & governments from around the world about “how much” food you should eat; the food guide pyramid, using your fist & hand as a portion guide, or even Michelle Obama teaching people about the “food plate”, to name but a few.  Obesity in the US started in the 70’s when food needed to be cheaper, so it was bulked out with lots of processed things – which made it taste awful so sugar was added in vast quantities, a seemingly fine idea at the time that people are paying with their lives for now.

As someone who has struggled with food for many years, knowing how much to eat has been a constant battle for me.  However, if training has taught me anything it’s that you really need to pay attention to what you eat; as well as how much of it you eat.  I’ve tweaked my food intake vastly since I began training & my current food relationship is a mostly healthy one. I seem to have adapted a high fat/high protein & low-ish carb kind of thing.  However, a more in-depth post about my current “diet” will be forthcoming in a few weeks.

Mmmmm, bacon. *homer drool*

So, that being said…..with all the vast choices of diets & faddy “lose weight FAST” kind of advertising about, it’s no wonder people often find themselves slipping from one diet to another; losing weight only to put it back on due to restricting certain foods & finally, admit defeat on the “contraband” and gorge until you feel sick & full of guilt.  Usual pattern, no?

I did Dukan 2 years ago, & while I did lose about 2 stone doing it, it didn’t stay off.  As soon as we stopped the crazy restrictiveness (my hubby did it with me) the looseness in my clothes that I’d began to notice started to lessen.  After that I just kinda went back to the “old” way I ate; skipping breakfast, grabbing something sugary/processed for lunch along with crisps or whatever & then devour a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s every few weeks because well, why not?!  It was only when I started going to the gym & Andy asked me for a food diary of a few days that I found out that what I was eating was mostly awful.

I was given a guide on foods to stick too, if it wasn’t on the list I didn’t eat it.  I experimented and managed to get a decent diet sorted & lost a few pound in the process.  By this time, I was cycling & was advised to recalculate what I was eating as that level of cardio meant I needed to refuel more than what I was used to; or risk going catabolic – a process that essentially uses your muscle to refuel, meaning muscle loss & fat gain NOT something I was aiming for.

I started looking at calculating what I needed, there’s a few TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) calculators on-line, I used a few then took an average & used that on My Fitness Pal….it wasn’t working though.  I was cycling through my calories….literally. I had MFP paired with a cycling app & the results were, less than promising.  I needed to eat.  This was disconcerting.  Especially as everything in the media tells us to eat less not more, we’re surrounded by people pushing low fat garbage at us; “guaranteeing” to help weight loss….ummm, no. Stop that. My issue was that I felt full,but how? I was eating about 500 calories less than my original TDEE calculation had said, there was no way I could fit more in…..was there?  I heard about macros through xxfitness (an amazing subreddit for ladies) and looked in to that side, instead of calories.

Recently, I learned how to calculate macros myself. they need tweaking from time to time, however this is the formula:

Calculate the calories you need:

Calculating for cutting (Fat loss)

Bodyweight in lbs x 11, 12, 13, or 14

11 if you’re sedentary with little exercise

12 if you’re sedentary & train 2-3 times a week

13 if you’re active & train 3-4 times a week

14 if you’re active & train 4-6 times a week, or more.

Then, from that you can work out your own macros:

Protein:

Take your weight in lb & that’s how many grams you should eat

Fat:

Ideally, you should aim for 0.3 to 0.6 grams of fat per pound of weight.

Carbohydrates:

Take your daily protein & multiply by 4. This is because there are 4 calories per gram of protein. Then multiply fat by 9, as there are 9 calories of fat per gram.

Add the numbers together & minus your calorie intake to get total carbs.

 Using this helped me work out how much of each macro I needed, so now when I prep for the week I can gauge how much of each macro I need per meal.  They’re not hard & fast rules though & you require a “delicate balance” so you don’t begin to panic if you’re over or under on a macro.

Since starting training & being more aware of food I’ve lost 17kg (2st 6lb, or 37lb) however have gained strength.  My total inch loss is around 12″, oh & my body fat percentage has gone from 35% to around 20%. It has taken me months of trying various different eating plans to find something that I’m happy with & what works for me – everyone is different & what is working for me, may not necessarily work for you, however a good place to start is knowing how many macros you need!

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