If you’re one of those folks who gets motivated to increase your physical activity around the New Year, you should consider reevaluating your energy needs, because altering your physical activity calls for changing your dietary intake accordingly. To put it simply, you must fuel and recover properly if you hope to support yourself as you shoot for specific fitness and performance goals. Training consistently is a must, but what happens outside of the short windows of daily training is most important. The way you eat and sleep sets the bar for what you can accomplish during each training session. Plus, your body is improving in the most significant ways after training as you recover and rebuild. Therefore, eating, as well as sleeping, are just as crucial to success as physical activity. Since you already checked off the “Train Harder” box on Monday, January 1, 2018, I’m going to help you eat to support that rigorous training regimen today with a few simple guidelines.
Before we get started, calculate your daily calorie needs, so take a moment and follow these steps:
- Visit http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
- Enter your personal information (be strict and honest when you judge your activity level)
- Evaluate your daily calorie needs based on your goals (Do not attempt to alter your weight more than 1lb/week, especially if you’re exercising more)
You now know how many calories you need per day with consideration for your activity level and weight goal. Great! What the heck do you do with that with that number?
First, you must understand the main sources of energy that your body metabolizes. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. One of the most common recommendations for allocating your daily calories to those nutrients is as follows:
- Carbohydrates – 40% of daily calories (1 gram = 4 calories)
- Proteins – 30% of daily calories (1 gram = 4 calories)
- Fats – 30% of daily calories (1 gram = 9 calories)
Now, take a weighted average of your daily calories for each macronutrient and convert the calories to grams since that’s how they’re measured on nutrition labels:
Ex. 2,000 calories/day
- 2,000 x 0.4 = 800 calories/day
- 800 calories / 4 = 200 grams/day
- 2,000 x 0.3 = 600 calories/day
- 600 calories / 4 = 150 grams/day
- 2,000 x 0.3 = 600 calories/day
- 600 calories / 9 = 67 grams/day
However, you’re more active in this wonderful New Year, so let’s tweak those guidelines for your current energy needs. Re-allocate your macro nutrients as follows:
- Carbohydrates 50%
- Proteins 30%
- Fats 20%
Carbohydrates and proteins are your main sources for recovery and improvement. The 50 30 20 method puts more of your daily calories in those fuel and recovery tanks. Additionally, this makes for a leaner diet that will likely satisfy your body composition goals. Notice, there are no calories added or taken away for this simple adjustment. You are just spending your calorie budget more appropriately for your increased physical activity.
For an easy way to track your daily 50 30 20 split, try signing up at https://www.myfitnesspal.com/. Your free account will include a daily macronutrient pie chart that makes tracking these numbers easy through the Myfitnesspal app. Use this helpful tool for a couple weeks until you get the hang of your 2018 lifestyle.
Keep up the great work!