If there is anything, I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that nutrition is not the same for everyone. One specific diet was never meant to be a cure for all.
Learning your body and your metabolism is one of the best things you could probably do for yourself. Not only will it give you clarity to the ups and downs of weight gain and weight loss. It will help protect you from disease, regulate your hormones and support natural energy.
When starting a health journey, I recommended doing a food recall and not so much a “diet”. What this means is to write down everything you consume with times of consumption for 2 straight weeks. This exercise will allow you to see exactly how consistent you are with your nutrition.
Before you try to cut calories, you need to know what your body can consistently function on. If you are eating 1600 calories Monday – Thursday, and then 2000+ Friday-Sunday your body literally doesn’t know which one it should be operating on. Once you can maintain “roughly” the same calories 7 days a week for at minimum 2 full weeks then you can start to incorporate more discipline.
When doing a cut, or a deficiency of calories, I recommended decreasing slowly. Doing leaps of 500 calories or more at a time can be super detrimental to your health and energy. You must gradually teach your body how to operate on a new level of energy.
There are a few different factors to take into consideration when deciding the right number of calories, you should be consuming in a day. Sure, we all know the basics, height, weight, age, activity level. But what about the more personal considerations that an equation cannot read.
Everyone has a different metabolism. Lets first define what metabolism is. Metabolism is the sum of all the breaking up and building up of things your body does.
So, EVERYTHING you do is metabolism. EVERTHING your body does requires energy. Metabolism is literally what keeps you alive.
Metabolism is broken up into four categories. TDEE, NEAT, TEF, and EEF.
I know what you’re thinking…” What in the heck do those abbreviations stand for?”
Lucky for you I’m about to break it down as simple as I know how.
TDEE is Total daily energy expenditure. What this is, is the energy you expend daily just for being alive. This makes up about 70% of the number of calories burned in a day. Another abbreviation for this is you BMR, or Basal metabolic rate. This is determined by age, gender, and weight. The only controllable piece in this formula is ultimately decrease or increase in your weight. It is important to first determine this number when deciding on the appropriate calories to eat in a day. This number can be found using a formula.
Women BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 x
height in cm) – (4.7 x age in yrs)
Men BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in yrs)
The next piece you need to evaluate is your NEAT, “Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is the calories you burn from non-exercise related movement.
Your lively hood will determine this number which is 15% of the calories you burn a day. Things to consider is your job, if you have young children, do you talk with your hands, are you a fidgetier, and if you have pets. Your daily activity level just from your livelihood could be 100+ difference in calories. Identify first just how active you are in day. If you don’t necessarily like to exercise…just by moving more naturally can earn you some more calories in!
Then the big one and hardest to learn, TEF, “Thermal Effect of food”.
This process is learning how your body processes macro-nutrients. How much energy is required for YOU to digest the food you eat? This one will very person to person depending on your eating habits. The most BASIC way to determine how much energy is needed to digest food is to multiple the total calories you eat in a day by 10%.
However, this formula will not include the amount of proteins, fats and carbs you eat or the caloric content of your food. Protein is processed faster whereas fat is processed slower. Therefore, many athletes, on the go folks, and gym goers drink protein shakes after their workouts or when in a pinch for time. Protein is simply digested the fastest. Healthy fats are super important because we need that built up energy storage to maintain. Other considerations are how much fruits and veggies you eat vs processed foods AKA Carbs. Processed foods take a lot longer to digest than whole foods. This why many people can eat a processed meal and not be hungry for quite some time. The best way to attack your TEF is to eat smaller more frequent meals that are primarily whole foods. You can also speed up your TEF with more protein consumption, spicy foods, and caffeine. After you eat your energy expenditure increases for 4-8 hours. The more frequent you eat the more your TEF will increase therefor burning more calories and speeding up your metabolism.
Lastly, but my favorite “EET” or exercise energy thermogenesis. This one ranges like CRAZY! Luckily it only takes up about 5% of the number of calories you burn in a day. Obviously, this will fluctuate person to person, but you can plan for roughly 5-15%. Things to consider is how much you exercise and what type of training you do. If you are primarily a cardio trainer you will burn a set number of calories vs if you’re a strength trainer as well which will burn calories hours after your workout. Strength training can be difficult to measure. There are wide range of variables that will affect the number of calories burned. Think about it like this the more energy it takes you to perform the exercise the more calories you are burning. You can use a MET (metabolic equivalent) calculator to help determine how many calories you burn from a specific exercise. Another way you can measure this is through getting your V02 max tested. This is kind of tedious and time consuming. I mean who really has time to go get tested after every workout?!… thank goodness for apple watches and fit bits!
I hope this breakdown on metabolism helped you and will be a starting point to learning how your individual and unique body works!
Consider this post the start of SLOAN Legacy Coaching’s Nutrition series.
STRENGTH LONGEVITY OVERCOMES ALL NEGATIVITY