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Nutrition – Calorie Tracking, What the hell are people talking about?

Nutrition has always played a significant role in life. Every day you select several foods that influence your body’s health. Each day’s food choices may benefit or harm your health a little, but over time the compounding effect this has can have a major impact to our health. That being said, paying close attention to good eating habits now, supports health benefits later.

The first thing people think when they hear diet is usually about restricting calories to achieve fat loss. However, diet quite simply refers to the food and drinks a person consumes. Importantly, this can change over time. Although most people realise food choices affect their health. January is usually the time of year when most people start to address their eating habits and try to make an improvement in their nutritional intake. The challenge though is trying to combine people’s favourite foods and social occasions with a nutritionally balanced diet.

There are a lot of factors influencing people’s food choices. Ultimately it depends on what the end goal of a nutritional plan is trying to achieve. For most people this is fat loss. The main principle when it comes to weight loss or weight gain is down to energy balance. If your energy intake is lower than your energy expenditure, then you will over time lose weight. If your energy intake is higher than your energy expenditure, then you will gain weight.

The end goal of every dietary approach for fat loss is to create a calorie deficit. This is often a term thrown around without people having a full understanding of how they should achieve this or where to start. However, no one in history has not lost weight if they are in a calorie deficit. This is often not explained to people as a scheme to keep them coming back when after they’ve lost weight, they put it all back on again at a later date. This happens because people don’t understand the concept of how they lost the weight in the first place or didn’t follow a sustainable approach. A good way to think about it is; if you have a pet that has put on weight, you would feed it less and walk it more. This is exactly what you need to do as well.

The first place most people start in trying to understand their nutritional intake is tracking using an app like MyFitnessPal (MFP). This is something that often divides opinion, some people are reluctant to use it as it seems time consuming and too difficult to achieve, whilst some people use it to track every meal. MyFitnessPal and calories tracking apps like it are tools that will help you learn the caloric density of foods and will give you a self-awareness of your calorie consumption and will allow you to make more informed food choices. They can be great tools for someone to gain knowledge, no matter their goal - be it fat loss performance, or muscle gain. However, this doesn’t mean it needs to be a long-term solution.

There are some things that will help you achieve your fat loss goals easily and sustainably. These include: increasing your protein consumption. This will help with satiety levels as well as, helping recover from any exercise you have undertaken.

Increasing your energy output can be achieved through walking more, taking the stairs rather than lifts or escalators and also adding exercise into your breaks. The other thing that will significantly help, is increasing your sleep. Studies have shown that sleep has a powerful effect on not only muscle recovery, growth and retention but also fat loss. This is because your ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels have increase due to a lack of sleep. This leads to fatigue and a lack of energy which results in you probably choosing foods that are higher in calories to satisfy this. Although fat loss is a numbers game, and the sleep doesn’t change that, it affects the behaviours you choose as a result.

At Soul Fit we have nutritionists on hand to better help you understand your own individual nutritional requirements and help set out your own individual plan. This will keep you on track to meet your specific goals this January and beyond. If you want more information feel free to speak to your personal trainer or during the classes here at Soul Fit and everyone will be more than happy to help.

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