Luke Teuma | UK Personal Trainer
Whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle, or preparing for a competition, calories will always be a variable which needs to be thought about and tweaked, but should it be prioritised?
Let’s start with the obvious, calories are a major factor in achieving whatever goal you may have, they will help how much weight you can lose, how much size you can gain and also your overall gym performance. But where is the line?
The trouble is people become too obsessed with calories, just thinking that eating their required amount of calories will aid their goal, with no real thought about macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) In my opinion, these are what should be the main priority, not necessarily calories.
All calories aren’t the same
1000 kcals of crisps and chocolate is not the same as 1000 kcals of chicken, vegetables and protein shakes and this is where calories become a confusion.
It is important in any weight loss or muscle building goal to either be in a positive or negative energy balance, so that you either eat less than your body requires or more than your body requires.
However, calories will only take you so far until it becomes more important to have the most optimal amounts of macronutrients, as this is what will affect your bodies response to the calories that are being consumed.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Food Choices
If you require 2500 kcals a day and want to gain size, eating 3000 kcals with junk foods and unhealthy choices could achieve some size fairly easily.
However, these foods will have a negative response on your body as, depending on what foods you eat, they may not give you the sustained energy needed to reach your goals – especially if you’re training a lot!
These foods may jeopardise building muscle because the potential lack of protein won’t aid protein synthesis – therefore, you will more than likely gain large amounts of fat too.
On the other hand, eating 3000 kcals to put on size, but also working out how much of each macronutrient you need to fulfill your goal and tweaking this match your ideal calorie intake – will give you a greater chance of packing on as much muscle on as possible!
It will also:
✓ Reduce the amount of increased body fat;
✓ Help the utilisation of carbohydrates for sustained energy and muscle tissue building –
Therefore, having optimal hormonal responses – helping in everyday day life and workouts.
What if you eat too much food?
This is linked to a particular goal or individual. The best starting point might be to figure out your current calorie intake, reduce it to be in a negative energy balance and count how many you’re eating a day to lose weight.
But this won’t work forever, you couldn’t keep reducing calories until it reaches triple figures and I surely don’t need to explain why that’s bad! When you start to plateau just calorie counting, macronutrients will be what you need to tweak in order to get a better response from your body to achieve better results.
|Kcals from Protein per 1g =||4 kcals|
|Kcals from Carbohydrates per 1g =||4 kcals|
|Kcals from Fat per 1g =||9 kcals|
Whatever your macronutrient split is, or if you don’t have one, figure out which split is best for you, then simply use those figures to get an educated amount of each to fit your personal goal!
If these don’t match the ideal calories you think you need or would like, tweak them!
Take home message
Counting calories is important in correlation to your goal but not the only variable that should be prioritised. Be just as focused on how much of each macronutrient is required for your desired goal and let the total calories from that give you a better idea on whats best for you.
Just remember, all calories aren’t the same, so be careful on what your counting towards you’re daily intake in order to achieve your goals!