Due to popular demand I decided to start incorporating different diets and nutritional research on the site.
These things will include, but not be limited to: Calorie Counting/IIFYM Diet, and the Mediterranean Diet. Obviously, this article will be discussing the first of the two.
I’m doing this slight transition because I think their are many of you who will do well having an option, and while I think the guidelines I portray in the SHJ Nutrition Pillars are great, I don’t think there is strictly one diet that can help you reach your goals.
Firstly, I’d like to go over some of the nutrition research we’ve already covered so you can explore your options a bit.
- We’ve looked at how Hugh Jackman gained clean mass using Intermittent Fasting
- We took a look at how we can utilize Intermittent KETO Fasting
- We talked about the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet and Carb Reloading
- We also discussed and went over the Paleo Diet, Vegan/Vegetarian, and even Mediterranean
So, to state the obvious, if you finish reading through this article and decide Calorie Counting isn’t for you, you can always hop onto a different diet and choose the best one that fits your needs within the pillars
What is a calorie?
I guess the most obvious way to start this off would be to first discuss what a calorie is. Let’s take a look at the basic definition given to us by Google.
- either of two units of heat energy.
- the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules).noun: small calorie; plural noun: small calories
- the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods.
I mean, that definition doesn’t really help me, so I’m just going to assume it doesn’t help you much either.
I like to break calories down into what we really are going to be thinking about; what we’re going to be counting when we say “Calorie Counting” and “If It Fits Your Macros”… Yeah, you guessed it – Macronutrients.
If you’re just counting calories and not counting macronutrients, you’re essentially saying that you could fill your caloric intake with all carbohydrates. Guess what, you can’t.
Alright, I take that back, you can – but I definitely don’t recommend it! 😛
What are macronutrients?
I gave one away already, but there are three of them that you need to know.
And all those bad boys are shown right in the picture.
If you couldn’t guess it (or didn’t already know), it’s in the order I listed from left to right.
All of these macronutrients make up your overall caloric intake. Each gram of the macros you intake are worth a specific count of calories. Carbohydrates are worth 4, Proteins are also worth 4, and finally Fats are worth 9.
Let’s make it a little more clear.
Let’s count up how many calories it would be if you had a total of these macros listed on a nutritional facts label:
5 grams of Fat
15 grams of Carbs
20 grams of Protein
Please place your bets now…
So you would look at this calculation like this:
5 grams of Fat (each worth 9 calories) = 45 calories
15 grams of Carbs (each worth 4 calories) = 60 calories
20 grams of Protein (each worth 4 calories) = 80 calories
Making the total calories a whopping 185 ! Did you get it right?
Are you kind of catching on now? It’s pretty simple, right?
How do I count my calories then?
We obviously know there has to be a breakdown in the macronutrients that we’re intaking. That breakdown is highly adjustable and ranges all over the place in almost everywhere you’ll search. For example, MyFitnessPal, an App I HIGHLY suggest using to track your food and caloric intake – allows you to adjust your percentages but they will often start you at a 50/30/20 range. (C/P/F)
That being said, I like to suggest my own numbers when it comes to cutting and keeping on mass, or even clean bulking. Since I never suggest dirty bulking, because I think it’s important to continue eating clean, I don’t need to adjust any percentages.
The numbers I’m currently running MyFitnessPal at are: 40/35/25 (C/P/F)
Does this seem strange to any of you?
It might. This layout goes somewhat against the other nutrition guidelines I’ve talked about in other diets. For example, the SuperHuman Diet uses keto and Paleo to burn fat while bulking or cutting in weight. In that regard you tend to see a higher fat intake, medium protein intake, and low carbohydrate intake.
So, how can this work?
Well, aligning your caloric intake this way will allow you to not go over or under any specific macro. While keto and paleo may force you under a specific carbohydrate number to accelerate your fat burning, calorie/macro counting allows for an even spread – keeping you in control of how many carbs your body will be able to intake and burn off throughout the course of your day and training.
Obviously, if you’re using these percentages the number will go up or down depending on your goals (bulk/cut) and maintenance number.
How do I figure out what my caloric intake should be?
Alright, first I’ll give you a nice step by step process to easily get your caloric intake and then I’ll tell you how it all works.
Step One: Use the IIFYM Calculator
That was easy, huh?
Here’s what mine looked like (you can click to enlarge the pic)…
So it’s telling me my daily maintenance level is roughly 2500 calories. It’s also telling me that if I want to cut I’d be around 2000 calories (which is what I will eventually utilize, just hang in there), and if I want to bulk I’d be around 2700-2800 (I’d say aggressive range 3000 is more than doable as well).
Step Two: Plug your goal caloric intake into MyFitnessPal (don’t forget it’s available as an App on your phone), and also change your ratios for your macronutrients to 40%/35%/25%.
Step Three: Stay under your caloric intake each day if you’re cutting and hit or go slightly over if you’re bulking. Eat!
Where are these numbers coming from?
Luckily enough I’m able to use 2500 as a Maintenance level for myself because that is what IIFYM calculated for me. That means that if I eat 2500 calories each day I will continue to stay at my exact weight. (Keep in mind, that’s not taking into account macronutrients so fat and muscle gain/loss is a whole different ball game)
Now for a whopper. One pound is said to be equal to 3500 calories.
That means in one week (7 days people), if your calories are under your maintenance level by 500 EACH DAY, you’re going to be under a total of 3500 for the week. In turn, you will have theoretically burned one pound. Now, that also doesn’t take into account your cardio and training (which I don’t plug into MyFitnessPal so it just accelerates my cut), so hopefully if you’re incorporating that as well you’ll be off to a great start and burning more than the pound.
The same goes for bulking. Same numbers. If you’re over 500 calories per day for a week, you’ll be over your maintenance level by 3500 calories at weeks end; theoretically adding an extra pound to your body.
BOOM! That was pretty easy.
To wrap it up, IIFYM is giving you your maintenance levels, subtracting or adding around 500 to allow you to burn or gain about a pound a week, and then you’re counting your macronutrients (plugging in the percentages I gave you above and tracking via MyFitnessPal) to ensure you’re gaining or maintaining muscle while burning the fat pounds!
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