Society is obsessed with the word “calorie”. We all know that if we eat less calories we lose weight, but most people don’t have a clue how many calories they’re supposed to be eating in the first place. Sometimes we don’t even need to cut calories to lose weight, just the type of calories we eat. 100 calories from a scoop of ice cream does not contain the same quality of calories as a 100 calorie banana. Confused? Let’s break it down:
Calories are a unit of energy, and the human body needs energy to survive. They are made of the 3 major macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
The reason why 100 calories from that scoop of ice cream isn’t equal to the 100 calorie banana is simple, they contain a different amount of macronutrients. We all have different needs on what our caloric and macronutrient intakes should be – there is no magic number for everyone. Use our calorie calculator below to give you a close estimate. Depending on your goals, you can test these numbers and change accordingly.
You’ve probably heard of protein, carbohydrates, and fats – but let’s clarify exactly what each one does and why you need them.
Protein is often associated with muscle growth but it actually plays a role in every function of your body. The only thing in your body that is more abundant than protein is water. Everyone needs protein in their diet and it’s fairly easy to meet your daily recommendations. Protein is the building block that will help you build muscle and get stronger. When muscles are broken down during a weightlifting session, post workout protein is what builds our muscles back up and bigger than before.
If gaining muscle is your main priority then protein intake is what you should focus on. Protein can range from 30-60% of your total intake of daily calories. It just depends on your specific goal.
Carbohydrates are absorbed the fastest out the the three macronutrients. Carbs are quickly broken down into simple sugars that are absorbed into the blood. This will cause a big spike in insulin which is why we tend to feel sleepy after a carb-heavy meal. Carbs are still essential to our health, however. Do NOT follow those no carb or extremely low carb diets. They cut out a major portion of your health and you WILL gain any weight you lost FAST. Many nutritionists recommend 40-50% of your daily caloric intake to be carbs.
There are 4 major dietary fats: trans, saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. The first two, trans fat and saturated fat, are often labeled as “bad fats”. Trans fat is artificially made and can definitely be considered bad. It’s very cheap to produce and can contribute to many heart diseases. Saturated fats however, are both good and bad. Plant based saturated fats such as coconut oil have many benefits to your health while saturated fats from red meat do not.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known as the good fats for your diet. They are heart healthy and contribute to a healthy metabolism and help transport nutrients throughout our body. Fat is more dense than protein and carbs, making it easier to go over your daily calorie needs. This does not mean to avoid fats, as fat is necessary. Good fat should make up around 15-30% of your daily caloric intake.
Use our helpful calculator to figure out a good caloric intake for your goal: