It’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get… “how do I know how much I should be eating?”.
This can be a very simple question to answer, or a very complicated one depending on many factors. But we need to start somewhere- so here it is.
These are the three steps I use to start the process of getting my clients on the right track to reach their goals.
First- What ARE your goals?
This determines how much you should be eating, first and foremost. If you want to maintain weight, you need to be eating to maintain. Lose weight- eat to lose. This seems obvious enough, but a lot of the time people don’t TAKE the time to clearly define their goals, so they end up running in circles.
Figure out what you want RIGHT NOW, write it down, then we can move on to the next step.
Second- How much are you eating now?
You can’t change things if you don’t know WHAT to change. When I first work with clients, I ask them to track their intake for a week so I can see what they are doing now. I don’t make changes until I know what I’m working with. Use MyfitnessPal or Lose It.
Third- Having you been trying to lose weight and aren’t eating ENOUGH?
So counterintuitive, but if you’ve been yo-yo dieting for a long time and exercising a lot, you may not have a super healthy metabolism anymore.
I often spend the first few months with my clients bringing them up to a healthy intake before we can make changes. If you’re already eating hardly anything- how can I decrease it? **This is also why I ask people to track for a week- its great information to see what you’re ACTUALLY doing!
Then we can build a plan for how much you should be eating.
Find your baseline intake (do the math with one of the calorie needs calculations, you can google “calorie calculator”, or you can check out the calculators I have!). Then add or subtract calories based on your goals (or keep at maintenance for performance).
I suggest losing no more than ½ lb to 2 lbs of weight per week to protect muscle mass (this is 1750 to 7000 calories a week deficit). Try to eat regularly, get at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight, get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and eat your damn vegetables. If you’re gaining- focus on high quality foods and aim for 500 to 1000 calorie a day surplus.
This is a simplified list of what can turn into a challenging part of life. As mentioned before, there are so many factors that affect body composition- but if you start with these 4 steps, you will put yourself on the right track for success!
Questions? Comment below. Want more of an in depth answer? Check out my Nutrition 101 Ebook available at RoloAthletics.com.
Have specific nutrition questions you would like to see on Nutrition Tip Tuesday? Let me know!