Most of us think that calories are just tiny creatures that live in our closet and sew our clothes a little bit tighter every night, but they are much more than that!
This week we will learn where calories come from and the correlation between macronutrients and calories. We’ll also start to look at the ideal allocation of macros and calories to support optimal health and balance in our bodies.
So far we’ve learned:
✅ The 3 macronutrients – Protein, Carbs, Fat
✅ The formula for the minimum amount of protein a person should be getting
✅ How to read a food label to determine how much protein the source contains
✅ A respectable list of protein sources to incorporate into your diet
✅ 10 functions of protein in the body
✅ The Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
✅ How many burpees you have to do to burn 260 calories 🤯
Let’s move on, shall we?
Just like our chakras and checkbooks, our macronutrient consumption must also be balanced in order to provide our bodies with maximum efficiency.
Most of us are somewhat familiar with calorie counting or have at least heard of this. From a weight loss perspective, calories in vs calories out will yield you results every time.
From a maximal metabolic and health perspective, balancing macros will yield the best results.
Side note – you also get to eat WAY more food on a macro plan!
In order to make sense of calories vs macros, we have to learn the correlation between calories and macros. We have to learn where calories come from.
Calories Come from the 3 Macronutrients:
(Plus the invisible 4th, alcohol. That’s a whole series on its own.)
Time for a lesson: Calorie Counting 101:
Each GRAM of a macronutrient equates to a number of calories.
1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
1 gram of Carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
Take a minute and go back to the food label I had you look at in Part 1. We looked at the serving size of the item and the number of grams of protein in it.
Go grab that item again and let’s look at how many calories come from the protein.
My item is a Fage Non-Fat Greek Yogurt. It’s a single serving container and has 18 grams of protein in it.
Knowing that 1g Protein = 4 calories we can do the math to determine calories from protein in my yogurt.
18g x 4c = 72 calories
Now let’s look at the other macros in your item and my yogurt.
There are 5 grams of Carbohydrates in my yogurt.
5g x 4c = 20 calories
Last but not least, let’s look at Fat.
My yogurt has 0g of fat.
Let’s pretend it wasn’t non-fat and contained 4g of fat.
Remember, the math is a little different because fat contains more than double the amount of calories that protein and carbohydrates have.
4g fat x 9 calories = 36 calories
(I know what you’re thinking….. Life’s not fair.)
Now let’s add up all the calories
- Protein = 72
- Carbohydrates = 20
- Fat = 36
Total = 128 calories
You’ve now learned how to count calories through macronutrients! Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back 😌
Looking at your item, is there anything you are surprised about?
Often, what is most surprising is not the numbers of calories in a serving, but the amount of servings in your item or the actual size of the single serving.
Look at ice cream for example 🍨
Many brands will promote “only 100 calories per serving” on the front of the label. Awesome right? Before we get too excited let’s look at the serving size. Generally it will be 1/4 or 1/2 cup.
I don’t know about you, but that’s usually the amount I eat out of the carton while I’m scooping a fourth of a gallon into my bowl.
Don’t worry, as this series continues we’ll learn some great alternatives and ways to find balance on a daily basis.
Speaking of balance, let’s finish Part 3 with the most common and agreed upon distribution of calories from macros for an average person.
For maximal metabolic efficiency and overall health, caloric distribution on a daily basis would look like this:
40% of calories from CARBOHYDRATES
30% of calories from PROTEIN
30% of calories from FAT
You are likely surprised to see the biggest allocation in the carbohydrate category, but remember, I never said (nor will I ever say) that carbs are bad. Carbohydrates play an important role in our daily nutritional needs.
I know what you may be thinking:
But what about all this hype over KETO?!?
We’ll talk more about that a little further down the road, but for now, I’ll leave you with an illustration of various macro/calorie allocations.
NOTE: The purpose of the illustration is to give you a general breakdown of various nutrition plans. Different sources may vary in the actual percentages. Again, this is just to give you a general idea.
While God created all of us in His image, He made us in a way that is both unique and special on an individual basis.
When it comes to macro and calorie breakdowns, there are various plans to support individual goals and needs.
We will pick up from here next week!
Feel free to drop a question or let me know what you’re looking forward to in future posts!
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May God bless and protect our country and everyone reading.