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Counting calories: back to basics
Do the Maths
Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So, in general, if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you'd lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). Similarly if you burned 500 calories through exercise, but didn’t reduce your food intake (my preferred method – I love my food!) then you will still lose weight.
Quality vs Quantity
Ok, so to lose weight we know we need to drop around 500 calories a day. So does that mean we get to eat whatever we want, as long as we stay within the calorie allowance? In theory, yes! BUT us health chicks have come up with some simple nutritional guidelines that’ll help you get the results you want quicker, as well as give your body the nutrition it needs in order to function at it’s best.
Our Nutritional Guidelines
1. Always follow exercise with a protein based meal or snack. This will aid your muscle recovery and growth following training sessions, as well as satisfy any post-exercise hunger cravings!
2. For women I would recommend 2-3 100-calorie snacks per day alongside 3 x 300-400 calorie healthy meals. On non-training days you should usually be consuming around 1200-1400 calories, depending on your BMR. On training days you can increase your calorie intake (yay!)
What is BMR?
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest i.e. the amount of calories you burn doing absolutely nothing! Anything that results in an increase to your metabolic rate will increase your BMR. This includes EXERCISE!
Once you know your ‘magic number’ then weight loss becomes a breeze – all you need to do is make sure you finish your day on a calorie deficit, based on your daily calorie needs, and the magic will happen for you!
The Bad Guys
Processed foods such as ready meals, takeaways, processed meat (sorry guys, there’s no such thing as a ‘healthy’ takeaway!)
High salt, hydrogenated fats and junk food (crisps, crackers, salted nuts etc.) all of these are full of salt, chemicals and other things which affect your appetite, immune system, bloating etc. – not a good look for a health conscious chick!
Refined sugars such as sweets, chocolate, cake (kind of obvious that one!)
Refined carbohydrates (bread, cereal, pasta, white rice). Although you do need carbohydrates with each meal to regulate your blood sugar levels, these can cause a blood sugar spike and unless they are wholegrain, do not contain many nutrients!
Refined cooking oils- margarines, vegetable, corn, sunflower oil these are linked to heart and blood pressure problems and should be avoided at all costs!
Fizzy drinks and concentrated fruit juices high in sugar and chemicals
The Good Guys
Your meals should consist of the following - the more natural and unprocessed the better, organic if you can get it:
Lean protein sources such as chicken/turkey/fish (especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna) as these contain the essential fatty acids. Organic grass fed red meat and free-range eggs are also a great source of protein. Beans and lentils are a great addition as they have a very small effect on blood sugar so can be added to meals, soups and salads to fill you up
Carbohydrates from fresh fruit and vegetables such as blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, bananas, spinach, kale, peppers and squash. If you’re short on time then throw it all in a blender, add a scoop of protein powder and you’re good to go!
Organic grains- brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, rolled oats.
Getting your healthy fats in from sources like nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds) as well as avocado which is a great source of vitamin E. Coconut oil is also a great fat to cook with as it can heat up to high temperatures.
Although these are essential fats that are needed for normal functioning of the body, they do still contain a high caloric content, which is why you should just have a handful of nuts rather than the whole bag!
You should also be drinking around 2-3 litres of water per day. Liquids - green tea, peppermint tea, protein shakes, almond milk, coconut milk, water, freshly squeezed juice.
Some good snack ideas include:
1tsp of peanut butter/almond butter with sliced apple
Hummus with vegetables - carrots/celery/peppers/cucumber
Greek yoghurt with berries and honey
Handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts)
Corn or rice cakes with avocado and smoked salmon.
Fresh fruits (berries are great) but no more than 2 portions of fruit a day due to the sugar content