Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ask the Trainer: Do I have to eat 1200 calories a day?


That is such an exact number, that is my short answer.  Should you eat more, should you eat less? Why? What if I am extra hungry??  What if I am just not hungry?

How much you need is going to vary on a day-by-day basis.  Depending on your activity and your nutritional needs, it could fluctuate by as much as 500-1,000 calories a day.  Yes, some days you may need to eat 2,000 calories or more!!

Most of those on a weight-loss track won't need to get that high unless they are working out like Michael Phelps (who eats about 3,000 calories a day when he is training).  So think about that, the more you do, the more you need to eat.

The less you do....(and nobody reading my blogs better be a couch potato)...the less you need to eat.

So say you stay around the house all day and did nothing, maybe just sit around watch TV and do a few runs to the bathroom.  That 1200 calories would work, maybe even less.  Yes, I said it!  You're not burning off anything so you don't need as much.  Although, even adding just 10 minutes of a continuous walk, now you need to eat more.

If you are like many losing weight the proper way (eating healthy foods AND exercising) then you can eat a bit more.  And if you are eating healthy items like fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, lean protein and the like, this is going to seem like a lot of food when you are trying to eat at least 1200 calories a day.

Oh yeah, and if you weigh more, you EAT MORE!  A 200 pound woman trying to loss 50 pounds and a 150 pound woman trying to lose 20 should NOT be eating the same things. No way! 

So this 1200 calories you always hear is just a very basic baseline.  There are various calorie calculators around to calculate what you need based on your height, current weight, amount of exercsie you do. 

If you workout 2 hours a day like I do most days, you need to eat more.  Trust me, it's hard for me to "eat more" when I am trying to lose weight.  The key is to eat more of the foods that are high calorie, nutrient dense like nuts and beans.  In fact, both of these items help accelerorate weight loss.  Eat them!

Also, check out calorie cycling.  It's when some days you eat on the high range, other days you eat on the low range.  This works for me.  It's almost like a cheat meal built in for me.  On my high day I will eat something liek pancakes with syrup for breakfast because it's high calorie.  On low calorie days, breakfast would be smaller liek low-fat yogurt and fruit, egg white and whole wheat toast or a protein bar.  High calorie breakfast may be 400 calories, bversu low-calorie breakfast 250-300.

Same with other meals throughout the day.  I can eat more, so I have small treats.  On low calorie days, I stay strict.  I give myself 2 high calorie days (and place them strategically after official weigh-in days) and then stay fairly low the other days.

Example: Weigh-in Thursday morning, and have a high calorie day. Back to low-calorie Friday. Saturday may go high. Sunday (sometimes this is the high day) I go back low, but maybe not as low as my real low days.  Then Mon-Wed I am strict.  I don't stray on my strict days.  I am trying to get the body to release any access I have put on over those high days.  Guess what, it works every time!  Thrusday morning I weigh-in and see a loss. Repeat!

Try this to shake things up.  It's also great for your metabolism because it keeps it working, guessing, burning more efficiently.  It's not in starvation mode, it's not being overworked.  It's science people, a hard cold fact.