Tag Archives: food

You Are as Powerful as a Lightbulb

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Continuing from my last post about energy; I was having a chat with a friend who told me that people burn through enough energy to power a lightbulb.  Whaaaaaaat?!  So, I googled & it’s true! I found this fascinating, so I’m sharing the basics here:

Think about a person who consumes 2000 calories in a day. Every calorie from food (kCal) is equal to 4200 joules of energy. Used over the course of a day (86,400 seconds), this person uses an average of 97.2 joules a second, meaning they have an average power of 97.2 watts. Certainly a person could juggle quite a few hamburgers, but in the end humans only average the power of a bright lightbulb.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but the above quote is the basic jist of it from a blog post on Bryn Mawr College’s website.

How is this relevant? Well, I don’t suppose it is per se, but a bulb is a tiny piece of glass with an even smaller element inside that heats up & a byproduct of that heat, is light. 2000 calories, to someone that is used to eating a lot less than that can seem HUGE, but if you compare it to a bulb, it really isn’t & the energy that you need in order to survive/function as an “average” human (I say average, as 2000 is about average)  is just enough to power said bulb.  *shrugs* I thought it was cool.

Anyhoo…………..

Continuing on this theme of energy; what happens if you don’t get enough calories? (your bulb would be a lot dimmer, that’s for sure!) Under eating is different to eating to a calorie deficit, one is a tried & trusted method to lose some weight, the other isn’t good for you. Your body is a smart, energy efficient machine – or it should be. Just like anything else that requires power, if it doesn’t get enough, it can’t do its job correctly.   Effectively, your body slows down.  Like load shedding (sharing power in an energy deprived country) your brain notices the calorie deprivation if it gets too low & will reduce your BMR to compensate – meaning that when you first chose to slash your calories to 1,000 per day it was fine, yeah…a little hungry, but continuation to do this will change your metabolic rate so that you become more efficient in using the calories, but that means any weight loss you initially noticed will slow down & stop.

The rate at which a body burns calories is determined by the amount of muscle that you have – more muscle, higher BMR.  This is why men have a faster metabolism than women – as they usually have a higher muscle percentage than we do.  Ultimately, muscle burns a lot more calories than fat so when we lose muscle, our metabolic rate drops and we burn fewer calories. In fact, research shows that the body loses a proportionately high amount of muscle with a very low calorie intake and this may considerably suppress metabolism by up to 45 percent….which in turn can see you with a much higher body fat percentage than you’d originally wanted.

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These women are both the same height, but the one of the left weighs 110kg in comparison to the right who weighs 50kg

A calorie deficit is just that, a deficit – it shouldn’t be that low that you can’t concentrate, struggle with basic tasks, and have terrible sleep, skin, etc. halving your calories is a sure fire way to not get results – in order to get the result that you want, the first thing to do is to know your BMR:

BMR calculation for men (metric)

  • 66.5 + ( 13.75 × weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 × height in cm ) – ( 6.755 × age in years )

BMR calculation for women (metric)

  • 655.1 + ( 9.563 × weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 × height in cm ) – ( 4.676 × age in years )

Then, calculate your TDEE, you need to HONESTLY work out your activity levels:

  • Little to no exercise – Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2
  • Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55
  • Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725
  • Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9

Once you have your figure you can reduce it by around 200 calories, in order to keep the calories in lower than the calories out, but not to a level that is gonna have a negative effect.  As you lose weight & gain muscle, you will need to revisit this calculation a few times as when your weight changes, so does your BMR.

 

 

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What is Energy?

In a world of Paleo this, Keto that it’s no surprise that people feel completely bewildered when it comes to food choices.  Whether you think “eating clean” is the right thing for you, or even (dare I type…) Slimming World people are bombarded with information about what foods to eat, which ones to avoid, meal interval timings & so on.

Studies showed that those who change their diet completely are less likely to continue with said diet change than those that make several, small changes over the course of a few weeks to a perhaps even a few months – every body is different & responds in different ways so it’s probable that each approach needs to be varied in order to suit the individual.

That being said – without actually knowing what your body needs, nutrient-wise how do you really know that whatever choice you’ve made is A) the right one for you & B) going to work for you.

Here in the UK, 6/10 women are obese & 7/10 men are. So, it’s obvious that something, SOMEWHERE isn’t going according to plan? Isn’t it? Is it? In its simplest terms, people are eating more than they need – they have an excess of calories consumed….the energy that the body needs isn’t as high as what they’re giving it, so the body stores it, to be used later, but then an excess is eaten again, more is stored & thus, the cycle repeats.

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You burn through energy by being alive – yes, even sleeping burns calories.  You need energy to survive. Thinking uses calories, walking, breathing, everything!  However, how much energy you use on a daily basis is down to your activity levels.  Someone with a desk job won’t need as much as someone that is a manual labourer.

Energy for consumption is measured in Kilocalories (kcal) & Kilojoules (kJ)

1 kcal is equivalent to 4.18kJ

  • Fat has 9 calories per 1 gram
  • Carbohydrate has 3.75 cal per gram – this is rounded up to 4 cal
  • Protein has 4 calories per gram
  • Alcohol has 7 calories per gram

The amount of energy a food contains is classed as density, so high fat foods are considered more energy dense than protein or carbohydrate.

The total energy content of a food can be found by burning it and measuring how much heat is released. Foods with fewer calories per gram such as fruits, vegetables, low fat soups, lean protein and fibre-rich foods have a relatively low energy density.  Foods with a high fat and/or low water content such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits, deep fried foods and snacks, butter and oils, have a relatively high energy density.

Basing your diet on foods which are lower in calories (or have a lower energy density), and eating foods which are high in calories (or have a higher energy density) less often and in small amounts, can help to control you overall calorie intake. Some foods with a higher energy density such as oily fish, cheese, nuts, seeds and avocados contain healthier types of fat and other important nutrients meaning they can be consumed in moderate amounts as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

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Why Slimming World is Flawed…

Recently I’ve been working in an office environment, so it’s swarming with women who are all on some diet or another, but one seems to be more popular than any of the others & it’s SLIMMING WORLD.

Slimming World is the land of syns, some foods are “free” – this means you can eat as MUCH as you want, others have syns – these are the ones that you should only eat a certain amount of in order to keep losing weight.  Sound ideal?  Where’s the issue?

So, what’s in a syn?

You have a total  daily allowance of syns, 15 to be exact. That 15 syns equates to 300 calories per day.  Um, come again?  How many?  I eat more than that for breakfast! No, no! I hear you cry from you syn thrones – there are syn free foods too!  Mate, I don’t care.  This working things out in fake points is insane!  (it’s like Reddit, but for food in the real world!)

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So, I give you the flaws in this insane system*

I’ve googled free foods/syns in foods to create a daily plan & will be adding actual macros/calories as well.  All the food listed below is from the SW website & SW Survival website.

Breakfast:

Baked oats or a full English

Oats are:

35g oats, 3tsp sweetener, 1 egg, 1 pot of yoghurt & some fruit.  Bake it.  Job done.  ONE WHOLE SYN.  (343 cal, 22g carb, 6g fat, 11g protein)

Full English:

2 sausages, 2 rashers of bacon (fat removed), mushrooms, 1 whole onion, 1 whole tomato, 1 boiled potato, 1/2 tin of beans, 2 eggs.  ZERO SYNS!  (ok….this is free food, so why stop at two sausages, why not have eight? They’re no syns!!)  (942 cal, 59g carb, 48g fat, 59g protein)  This bad boy also benefits from 1,852mg of sodium!!!  FTR, 8 sausage is 1600 calories.

Lunch:

125g Cheese, Leek & Ham pasta.  100g Chicken breast, & a 500g tub of fat free yoghurt – SYNFREEAGAIN (936 cal, 84g carb, 9g fat, 63g protein)

Dinner:

Lamb shank with mint sauce, 100g oven chips, side of veggies & a Curly Wurly brownie, fuck it….I’m on one syn, so let’s have 4 brownies. 4 SYNS  (857 cal, 50g carb, 43g fat, 67g protein)

Total Syn count: FOUR or FIVE depending on breakfast

Some fruits are free too, so we’ll have 2 mandarins, 100g peas & 100g carrots as snacks for the day.  (163 cal, 38 carb, 6g protein)

Because we have around 9 syns left, we’ll have a 14% glass of red wine with dinner. (175ml)  (175 cal, 3g carb)

Don’t worry about being peckish…..carbs are FREE – go eat that bowl of pasta & sauce,  or super noodles.  (pasta is 522 cal, noodles are 264 cal)

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So, that gives you a total (excluding MOAR pasta snacks) of:

2474 cal for the day if you have the oats

3586 if you have the full English.

Remind me, this diet is supposed to help you LOSE weight, right?

Macro-wise, it’s a little more promising;

196g carb, 58g fat, 147g protein OR 233g carb, 100g fat, 195g protein  sort of,  I suppose.  It depends on a multitude of things: height, weight, age, gender & activity levels.

I can burn through over 3000 calories a day, however that is only IF I cycle a good 10 miles, as well as go & lift weights for an hour.

Look at it this way, most women in the UK  on average, are 5 foot 5 (169cm) & weigh anywhere from 7st 12 to 10st 10 (50-64kg)  If we take the middle of that weight range, around 58kg & work out that they’re a 40 year old office worker that drives everywhere & walks the dog a mile a day.

That gives you a TDEE of 1477 NOT 3586. Broken into macros, as per MFP:

1477 cal,  50% carb – 185g, 20% fat – 33g & 30% protein – 111g which is WAY off the food i selected at random from the lists of free foods that I could.

I’m aware my examples are probably extreme & SW will hopefully teach people portion control & so on, I also know that many people have lost weight using SW – that doesn’t make it right!  Eating at a calorie deficit will help you lose weight, you don’t need points, coloured days, or whatever else some diet guru is trying to tout you with.

Plus, without knowing what a macro is, you’d never be able to work out your daily needs.  That & there’s no paid support group for macro counters…….

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Diagnosis of Slimming World:  NO.

 

*I know people who have lost a lot of weight with SW, those people have added exercise to their lives as well as watching what they eat. I 100% believe that following a standard macro/TDEE would have yielded the same results & forgone some potentially, dangerous eating habits.  This post is to show those flaws & how open to interpretation this “diet” is

I Wrote a Thing About Carb Loading…

A friend of mine recently did Coast to Coast – that’s a 140 mile (225km) bike ride.  He asked me to put something together for what he could take with him to eat over the 2 day ride – I put together a little thing for him – from 8 days prior to his event.

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This is what I wrote:

Carb loading to help performance

Carbs, broken down to the most simplistic are simple & complex.  Simple are sugars & complex are starches & fibre. Simple carbs are from milk, table sugar, fruit sugar & honey.  Complex carbs are from whole grains, vegetables, seeds, cereals & potatoes.

Complex carbs are better to eat than fats, as storing fat doesn’t require energy, whereas converting carbs to fat does.  Eg:  300 cal of carb, converted to fat equals 270 carbs, whereas 300cal of fat is still 300cal

Blood sugar & insulin levels spike when you eat carbs, how fast depends on what you’ve eaten. There’s stuff about eating low GI foods, to help aid athletes.  Anything lower that 55 on the GI index is low GI, above 70 is high GI & everything else is middle GI.

Low GI examples: grains, pasta, noodles, low-fat dairy & nuts.

High GI: White bread, white rice, instant mash, biscuits, cake etc.

Low GI, ideally should be consumed 2-4 hours before endurance exercise.  High GI will give you a boost, but it’s short lived & could produce temporary hypoglycemia.

Lower GI improves satisfaction feelings after eating & can help control weight too.

 

I guess, you really wanna know how much you should eat as well though?  Ha.  So, basically the more you weigh, the more glycogen stores you have (this is stuff that is stored in your muscles & is released during exercise – so storing it is goooooood for endurance)

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1-3 hours a day of cycling equates to 7-12g per KG of bodyweight

Over 4 hours a day equates to 12g per KG of bodyweight.

So, if you weigh 80kg for example & are doing 2 hours a day, you need around 10g per kilo, or around 800g of carb per day (800g in calories is 3200)

My info suggests carb loading 7 days prior to an event, there are three different options for this (& it involves tapering off your training for that week)

YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT – but if you carb load correctly, it’s glycogen being stored in your muscles ready for your epic cycle.

Carb loading, combined with rest & sleep has been proved to decrease fatigue by 20% & improve performance by 3%

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Classic carb loading:

Day 1:

Normal Training

Normal Diet

 

Day 2:

Prolonged/exhaustive exercise

LOW carb diet

 

Day 3:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 4:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 5:

Tapered Training

High carb

 

Day 6:

As day 5

 

Day 7:

As day 5

 

Day 8: EVENT.

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Modified carb loading:

Day 1:

Endurance Training

Normal Diet

 

Day 2:

Tapered Training

Moderate carb diet

 

Day 3:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 4:

As day 3

 

Day 5:

Tapered Training

High carb

 

Day 6:

As day 5

 

Day 7:

As day 5

 

Day 8: EVENT.

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Modern Carb Loading:

 

Day 1:

Tapered Training

Normal Diet

 

Day 2:

Tapered Training

LOW carb diet

 

Day 3:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 4:

Tapered Training

Low Carb

 

Day 5:

Tapered Training

High carb

 

Day 6:

As day 5

 

Day 7:

Warm up & 3 minute high intensity

High carb – 10g per KG of BW
Day 8: EVENT.

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So yeah, that was what I wrote for him.

I’ve never attempted carb loading myself (I’ve done carb cycling in the past) but perhaps at some point in the future what I wrote for him, may come in handy for myself!


All Aboard The Frustration Train!!

Urgh.  It feels like it wasn’t that long ago I wrote a post similar to this.  Like a perpetual cycle of highs and lows; the highs are amazing & the lows are, frankly, more annoying than an itch on the sole of your foot when you’re wearing boots that have 12 feet of shoe lace & you’re wearing a corset.

A few weeks ago my training programme changed, this one has taken weeks to get used to & I’ve been sticking to weights that I *know* I can handle, not necessarily seeing if I can go higher than before (I like round numbers, doing 5 or 7 of something doesn’t sit right with me & if I can do 8 then I may as well try to do 10)

I had a few days away from the gym last week (for the past few weeks I’ve not had a proper rest day, I’ve always been doing something) so on those days away I spent a fair amount of time reading & trying to find out where I was going wrong.  I’m still a novice with lifting & my PT was away on business so I couldn’t pick his brains.  Anyway, in those days I realised that most of my heavier lifts haven’t changed for MONTHS; I know that training isn’t about consistently getting those PR’s but my thinking was how can I continue to progress & get out of the constant plateau that I’ve been floating on for the last few months (weight loss isn’t a goal, so IDGAF what the scale says)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last year is that when a plateau hits, you need to figure out why & it’s not a simple task (or it isn’t for me) The easiest way to go through it, is – ironically enough, via my weight.  I lost weight when I started cycling to & from the gym, I lost weight when I changed my eating habits, I lost weight when I switched to intermittent fasting. The scale hasn’t changed since er, July I think.

In my reading mission, I read a great post from Chris Mullen about bulking (something I’ve heard about, but never gave it much thought) towards the end of the post he said:

Remember though, TRACK YOUR MACROS, ok you’re bulking so it’s never going to be perfect but you have to have some idea, how else are you going to grow muscle?! You need to eat in a surplus to build muscle.

The severity of this surplus will determine the ratio of muscle mass to fat mass you gain.
You can only build muscle at a certain rate, so a big surplus will inevitably lead to lots of unwanted fat gain. Conversely, too small a surplus and you might stay lean, but your muscle building will be compromised.

Unfortunately, building muscle just isn’t possible naturally when you aren’t eating enough.

You need to spend time consciously building muscle if you wish to look muscular in any way (hence ‘bodybuilding’).

I’ve underlined the part that resonated through my head.

Andy told me I need to watch my eating when I first started cycling & I’ve been eating to maintenance for a long, long time. Maybe I haven’t.  Maybe I’ve thought I was & in actuality I’ve been under-eating….it’s a possibility. It’s a possibility that I’m now exploring, I’ve changed my macros to suit & am hoping that the extra calories gives me that boost to be able to lift more.

I’ll report back after a few weeks & let you know how it’s going!

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Let’s Talk About Food

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, food!  Glorious food.  There’s so much to choose from, not just the different flavours but different lifestyles too.  It’s no wonder people can get confused about what to eat & where to shop to get the best value/quality products.

However, my intro has very little to do with the rest of this post.  I merely wanted to illustrate that we have more choices now than ever before on what fuel we put into our bodies.

So, kids.  Who has them?  I DO!  both my boys are tall and very lean, they eat good, wholesome foods with the occasional treat; cos let’s face it….who doesn’t want a treat?!  Aaaaaaaanyhoo, if they’re at the table & tell us that they’re finished – even if there is food left on the plate, what is the response from the parent:

A:  Tell them that they can leave their plate & they’re hungry later, the food will still be there. (up to an hour-ish)

B: Force them to finish their meal, by saying they get nothing else/no dessert.

C: Just give them the dessert because it’s easier

I don’t want to know your answer, I am not here to lecture & judge you on what you eat & how to raise your children, however let me tell you a story:

As a child,if my mother left food on her plate/said she was full before clearing her plate, she’d be reminded that there were starving children in Africa who would LOVE the food that she was refusing to eat. I too remember being told this by my grandmother when I was eating at her house during the brief time I lived in the UK as a child.

Now, it takes approximately twenty minutes AFTER eating for your brain to register that you are full – so if, you feel full whilst you still have food on your plate imagine how you’re going to feel twenty minutes later.  Team that with essentially being forced by guilt in to finishing the food on your plate…..how will you feel then?!

Ordering your child to finish their food, despite them telling you they’re full is borderline abuse!  Their brain/stomach is telling them they no longer need to eat food – yet you are telling them to finish it.  Would you do that to yourself?  You feel full.  You still have food on your plate.  You eat it? No.Why would you do that?  You box it & refrigerate it for later, or maybe give it to the dog but I cannot see that any adult would willingly force more food into their face.

Both my mother & grandmother now have type 2 Diabetes. Coincidence?  Type 2 can be brought on by being overweight, along with other factors; such as age, genetics & ethnicity. Your risk of developing it increases if (as a woman) you have a waist measuring over 31.5″ – this is due to the fat around the abdomen area releases chemicals that can upset your cardiovascular & metabolic systems.  My mother & grandmother are not thin ladies – their Diabetes diagnosis’ concerned me – before I began training my waist was 33″, I’m now at 30.5″

Still don’t believe me that what you do to your children can affect their adult lifestyles?

Exhibit A:

I’m not saying every kid who is forced to finish their food will have a heart attack at 32, but the pattern is usually an overweight child equals an overweight/obese adult. Do you want to outlive your children? Do you want to have a “we need a bigger coffin” conversation with a funeral director, or contact the local zoo to have them cremated?  (This is due to normal crematorium not being able to burn the body due to its size/fat percentage) Do you want them to arrive at the funeral home on a flatbed truck due to hearses not being reinforced to hold their weight?

If my words have scared you, for you or for your kids then good because I have made my point. MAKE THE CHANGE, before it’s too late.


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!