Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Caloric Intake

On the most basic level, any weight loss or healthy living plan will only be effective if it enables you to burn more calories than you take in each day. You can choose any successful diet plan out there -- it doesn't matter what gimmick is used to accomplish the weight loss, the reason for the weight loss is directly correlated to caloric intake.

How many calories each person needs each day is going to vary depending on a variety of factors including age, weight, height, activity level, etc. Luckily there are many online calculators out there that can estimate the amount of calories you need each day to accomplish your goal -- whether that goal is losing weight, or simply maintaining your current weight.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) Calculator: BMR Calc

The BMR calculator will give you an estimate of the amount of energy your body would expend if you basically just laid in bed all day. The online caloric intake calculators will use this BMR figure, along with your standard activity level, to determine approximately how many calories you need to consume to accomplish your goal. The following calculator will provide three different intake options: one for maintenance, one for fat loss, and one for 'extreme' fat loss.

Daily Caloric Intake Calculator

I have used both the standard "fat loss" and "extreme fat loss" figures in the past to determine my daily caloric "budget", and have found both to be effective. I currently use the standard calculation because I am in this for the long haul, and found the extreme option to be overly restrictive, and it was too tempting to binge after several days of limiting myself to 1500-1600 calories (especially when accompanied by regular exercise).

For maximum effectiveness, I suggest using a smartphone or iPod app that will track your calories for you -- some of them even have extensive food databases. I have had good luck with the free version of DailyBurn Tracker, and found the barcode scanner to be useful for many pre-packaged items that I consumed. A quick Google search for "Calorie Counter App" will tell you that there are many other options out there, too.

The idea of tracking every calorie you ingest may seem like a real bother, but it really helps you grasp the amount of calories in the different foods you eat, and eventually you may not even need to use the tracker. My daily eating schedule is routine enough that I no longer need to track with an app -- I know that I will have approx. 1000 calories available for dinner and dessert, so I will try to make appropriate choices when I fill up my plate. But if I hadn't spent time tracking every calorie, I wouldn't know that a piece of whole grain bread is going to have ~110 calories, or that a typical piece of pepperoni pizza is going to have ~300-350 calories.

No, this calorie counting thing isn't very glamorous or exciting, but it is effective, and it is part of the Glutton Free way.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Afternoon Snack

After a busy couple of weeks and a bout of writer's block, I am back -- with a snack.

Snack time for me is around 3:30 PM, and I generally try to eat something high in protein, but foods that fit within my overall caloric intake goals. On days that I don't run, that means about 200 calories; and on days that I do run, it could be 300-450 calories.

My old stand-by for non-running days is 1 oz. of Tillamook Pepper Jack Cheese and half a serving of Blue Diamond Habanero BBQ Almonds. On days that I do run, I will switch it up to a full serving (28 pcs) of almonds and sometimes add in a piece of fruit.

1 oz. of pepper jack (110 cal.) and 1 serving of almonds (170 cal.)

That's it. It may not look like much, but it easily tides me over until dinner, yet doesn't fill me up to the point that I don't feel like running an hour after consuming it. If I don't have those exact items on hand I will just mix it up, but keep the same concept -- I'll substitute a different type of nut or cheese, or put peanut butter on whole-grain toast, or add some vegetables into the mix.

After consuming my afternoon snack on a non-running day, I will typically be at around 800 cumulative calories for the day, which leaves me with approx. 1000 for dinner. Some would say that only consuming 800 calories by that point in the day is bordering on deprivation, but if your body feels good enough to go out and walk/run 5+ miles, I would say that it is plenty. This, again, is where willpower comes in to play -- the easy way out is to say, "there's no way I could do that"; instead of telling your growling stomach that it will no longer be controlling you.

Once again, this is all what works for me. Some people need more protein and calories for breakfast than I do, and that is fine, as long as they keep in mind that those additional calories in the morning will need to be subtracted out of what they eat later in the day. If you eat 750 calories at breakfast, just remember that you will not be able to eat very much the rest of the day if you want to lose weight. There's no miracle food or formula here -- just burn more calories than you consume.