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Trying to lose weight and struggling? How little, or how much, you are eating could be the culprit!

The science behind fat loss seems fairly straightforward, right? Simply put, use more calories than what you consume. For the average person this means cutting back on how much food you eat on a daily basis. But believe it or not, a lack of “good” calories can be just as detrimental to fat loss goals as having too many calories. When we talk about “good” calories, we mean the calories that are the appropriate amount, for you, derived from nutrient rich foods found within the three main macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats). The calories from these macros should be distributed according to your specific goals. As an example, if fat loss was your goal you wouldn’t want carbohydrates to make up 60% of your calories while protein and fat are left to distribute the remaining 40%. Knowing how many calories are found in each macro, will determine the amount (in grams) of each macro that you need to consume daily. In carbohydrates and protein, there are 4kcal/g, while fat has 9kcal/g. There will be some adjustments in your daily requirements and this will primarily depend on your level of physical activity for a particular day, and more specifically the type and intensity of your workout. Days where your training consists of heavy weights, a slight increase in your protein requirements would be useful. You would then need to ensure that your other two macros are also adjusted to maintain your required caloric intake for that day.

To workout your daily caloric requirements you’ll need to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) or the amount of calories your body needs to function as a minimum. Once you have worked this out, you will need to include your Perceived Activity Level (PAL). These two multiplied together will give you daily calorie requirements (see image attached). Once you have calculated your caloric requirements, you can then appropriately adjust them to help meet your goals. For those trying to lose weight, you will want to reduce your overall calorie intake. For sustainable, long term fat loss, a calorie deficit of between 240-490kcal/day is advisable.

The use of macro tracking apps, such as MyFitnessPal, can be really useful in helping you to identify where your nutritional habits need tweaking. The benefits of such an app is that it can help educate you so that you have a clearer nutritional image of the quality, and quantity of the calories from your macros that you consume. For example, most people assume that 100g of steak equates to 100g of protein. But this isn’t the case, and as a result they may be underestimating the amount of protein they get in their diet.

If you are unsure whether or not you’re undereating and not meeting caloric requirements, these are four things that you should look for according to Kati Mora, a registered dietitian.

1. You’re tired

Our bodies are fuelled by the nutrients found in the foods we eat. If we don’t eat enough, our energy levels will tend to waiver. Skipping meals or limiting the types of food you eat, obviously leads to eating too few calories which means not enough nutrients. Research has shown that a healthy diet includes all three macronutrients for sustained energy. You also shouldn’t neglect the role that vitamins and minerals play in regulating the production of energy. When you skimp on calories, it becomes much more difficult to get all these important elements your body needs to function properly.

2. You’re cranky

Feeling more irritable than normal can be another key indicator you aren’t supplying your body with enough fuel to get through the day. Skimping on carbohydrates can be particularly problematic when it comes to mood stabilization. Without enough carbs, your blood-sugar levels may dip too low because the body doesn’t have enough sugar, or glucose, to use as fuel.

3. You’re constipated

To help preserve energy, your digestive tract may move food through your system more slowly when you restrict your intake below what your body needs for an extended period of time. This can cause constipation. In addition, not getting enough fibre regularly — which is challenging to do even when you do eat enough to meet your needs — can also increase the likelihood of constipation.

4. You can’t lose those last five pounds

More isn’t necessarily better. You usually lose weight when you run a calorie deficit, but if you’re finding you just can’t lose those last few pounds, it’s possible you’re eating too calories. Dropping your calories to significantly low levels may provide you with quick weight loss in the beginning, however it can be detrimental to your health and set the stage for weight regain in the future.

(4 signs you may be undereating taken from

So if you feel that you’ve been on top of your nutrition, and the weight just won’t seem to budge, consider tracking your macros even if it’s for a 2 week period. This will help you get a better idea of your specific requirements and if you’re meeting them or not. If further information for your particular is required, ask your trainer at your next workout.

Take this information and apply it to your situation and reap the health rewards today. Your body will thank you for it.


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