Match energy intake to needs and goals. I love the D Bar. Have you been there? This place is incredible. My favorite dessert there is cookies and milk. It’s pretty basic right? This is the difference in what they do vs most places where you might order dessert. They bake the cookies, to order, until they are just a tad “underdone”. Brought out to you ‘out of the oven warm’ and gooey accompanied by a glass of ice cold milk. You take these and dip them into the milk and your eyes roll to the back of your head with a foodgasm.
What direction do your choices take you?
Do those cookies that are just dripping with melted chocolate chips taste good? No, they taste great!
By eating them am I matching my “energy intake” (calories / macros) to my needs and goals? No, just no, not on any day of the week.
Does that mean I can never have cookies and milk again? Absolutely not.
Eat Smaller Portions or Less Meals for Weight Loss
By this point, if you are following these steps, it means you are at a place on your nutrition journey that you are consistently Planning, Prioritizing and Preparing your foods. You know what you are having for all of your meals tomorrow and the food is already in your refrigerator, possibly even prepared if this was a night you planned on not having to cook.
Don’t Skip the Steps
You also know what obstacles might hit this week and you have a plan in place to address those obstacles. Most people when making changes on their own skip Step 1 and go straight to Step 3: Match Energy Intake to Needs and Goals – which we are covering today.
Not only that, but they choose the most advanced way of following Step 3, which is Counting calories / Macros. This is one of the major reasons people fail when trying to change their nutrition habits – they make it way too complicated. Simple is sustainable. Easy is better than complex.
It’s Simple Math
If you take in more energy (calories / macros) than your body uses to fuel you for that day, you will gain weight.
If you take in less energy (calories / macros) than your body uses to fuel you for that day, you will lose weight.
There is no getting around that math, those are hard facts.
Here are a few ways you can measure your energy intake.
Easy Method – Change the Size of Your Plate
If you are trying to lose weight, pick up a smaller plate when serving meals. If you are trying to gain, use a larger plate. How does this help? A balanced meal for the average person has a 1/2 plate of colorful vegetables, 1/4 plate protein and the remainder is split between starches and fats. Changing the size of the plate will either add or subtract from your energy intake.
Intermediate Method – Hand Portions
The hand portion method considers a serving of protein the size of your palm. A serving of vegetables can be measured using your fist. A serving of carbs can be measured by cupping your hand. Lastly a serving of fat is about the size of your thumb.
We can help you determine the amount of servings, of the various categories, you might need using our InBody machine. Your energy intake is dependent on factors like age, activity level, gender, etc.
Hard Method – Counting Calories or Macros
I am not a fan of counting calories or macros until you are consistent with your food preparation and planning. It is a very time consuming task to add in, and almost never accurate in the way it needs to be, to be worth the average person’s time. There are exceptions of course, like professional athletes, or if you are preparing for a competition where that is your focus until the event.
The average person can reach their goals just as well, with less time spent, by eating less or more than they did the week before. Other tactics can be used like eating until they are 80% full, like we talked about in Step 2.
How do we help you determine your caloric intake or what your macros should be if you are ready to start counting? We can help you find your numbers to go off of based on what your measurements are according to our InBody. Our InBody machines measures your body fat, muscle mass, total weight, among other things. We use that to measure your progress as well.
You will have your numbers to hit for the day and you will measure, weigh and track everything you put into your body each and every day.
Track, Measure, Adjust
Whatever method you choose, keep track and make changes based on results. Follow your method for a couple weeks, then we reasses. Did the last 2 weeks bring your closer or further away? Can you take on any additional tactics to continue to improve results even more?
What about measuring Energy Output?
The problem is without a lab and some really smart scientists, there is no way to accurately calculate how much energy you expend on the treadmill, lifting weights, etc. We love all of our gadgets: smart watches, calorie trackers, food scales, etc. They are pretty cool and they probably help with some motivation as well. Seeing those energy output numbers add up really makes you feel good.
They are severely inaccurate however. Here is a study by Stanford into the accuracy of exercise trackers. The best one was off by 27%. Can you imagine on your best day being off by almost 1/3 of your caloric measurement? The worst one was off by a whopping 93%. I can just throw a dart at a wall with numbers on it and give you a more accurate estimate.
So what is the answer to matching your energy intake to your needs and goals?
The only accurate way to determine if you are matching your energy intake to your needs and goals is by trial and error.
Take a look at the picture of Hilary at the top of this article. Her goal is to throw that ball up to the orange stripe in the gym. She accomplished that in the most efficient way.
- Hilary grabbed the ball. Squatted. She exploded using her legs and her arms threw the ball up. She determined, after seeing where the ball landed, whether she should adjust and use more power or less power. Then tried again.
Hilary is not in the gym with measuring tape, ladders, scales to weigh the equipment, or gadgets to help calculate her velocity. She throws it, adjusts and throws it again. Simple. Easy. Sustainable.
After 2 weeks of tracking for energy intake (using any method above) measure your results. Adjust your energy intake / energy output and then measure again in two weeks.
Simple right? Easy right? That is why it works. Stop letting people tell you it only works if it is difficult. Difficult isn’t going help us follow through. No one has time for difficult. Simple. Easy. Sustainable.
Master these first 3 steps before moving on to the next step that we will be posting in the next few days.
Want some help dialing it in? Come see us today!