The 'C' word

How many calories do I eat? Do I count them?

I’m always getting asked how many calories do I have a day to maintain your weight and do I count calories? I eat a lot of calories and no, I do not count them. I don't have to count them to know I eat a rather large amount of calories a day and I'm actually losing weight. 
 
What's important is your body’s response to what you are eating:
 

  • Are you training hard and making new personal bests? You’re probably eating the right amounts.

 

  • Are you feeling slushy and bloated? Your probably eating too much.

 

  • Do you feel an intolerable hunger, do you not have the energy to train hard or go about your daily activities? Your probably eating too little.

 
It's simple, listen to your body!

I recommend starting out aiming for certain calories worked out for you and your goals. But that's getting you started. Once you know what your body can take in, in order give you adequate energy and achieve your goals you can monitor your nutrition by how your body is reacting rather than that calorie calculator. 

Don't get bogged down by counting everything that you set yourself up to fail!

People say " I want to loose fat fast to look toned. So don't I need to monitor my calories, and make sure I don't have too many carbs? I need to do more cardio and cut junk food completely out don't I?". No. No you don't have to!
 
To achieve that toned look you:

  • Don't need cardio.
  • Can still indulge in "junk" foods and you don’t need to starve yourself!
  • Should probably increase your carbs.
  • Can eat late at night. 

So... why?

You don't need cardio. Most men can get to as low as 10% body fat through good nutrition and weight training. Use a caloric deficit (less calories in than out) and train hard, that’s ‘the secret’. 
 

You can still indulge in "junk" foods and you don’t need to starve yourself! You want to be happy yes? Then don’t deprive yourself of foods that make you feel good. I’m not saying to order a Dominos twice a week and have some beers and a kabab on a Friday and Saturday night. What I am saying is MODERATION. If you deprive yourself you will crave and when you fail it wont be due to will power. If you starve yourself your body goes into ‘starvation mode’. This means that your body will store and latch onto all the fat. Most importantly you will mess up your metabolism. It will slow down. These points will do lasting damage, lowering testosterone and raising cortisol. So once a week have a cheat meal!

You should probably increase your carbs. If you want to look toned not skinny, and I’m guessing that’s right? You need to build some muscle and loose fat. That’s what tone is! You build muscle breaking down fibers lifting weights in the gym. This is anaerobic. Glycogen (carbs) are your main fuel source. So if you want to get the most out of training you need to have sufficient carbs. The same goes for cardio! You need the energy to work hard to burn calories and get fitter. This is where everyone says ‘so I’m taking in calories to use to burn calories?” Exactly! You want to burn calories in the gym more than through cutting them out your diet. You will teach your body to utilize carbs as a fuel source better, improve your insulin sensitivity, have better hormonal responses and you will get fitter. Not to mention, gain some muscle, which, guess what? Allows you to burn more calories. Look at it this way a person who is 15 stone and 30% body fat, wont need as many calories as a person who is 14 stone and 10% body fat. Muscles need calories!

Can eat late at night. You don’t have to cut our calories after 6 or whatever some people say. It can be beneficial yes, however if you are getting in the right amount of calories a day then your will get results no matter what time you consume them. What I recommend is cutting carbs out later in the day if you aren’t needing them. Your body is like a car you wouldn’t fuel it up to sit there.  Carbs are our main fuel! You would fuel your car to go for a long drive. See the last point, fuel up to train hard! In the evening try to stick to protein, healthy fats and if your are craving carbs then go fibrous such as veg!

Most important...

You should do it slowly. Linking on to the previous point you don’t want to starve yourself and damage your metabolism by cutting calories too low. A 200-500 calorie deficit is plenty to start with! You want to keep loosing fat and keep improving, rather than loosing fat fast, and then struggling to keep it off and just putting on weight every time the slightest bit of ‘junk’ food passes your lips.