Tracking your food is the only way to truly understand the effects of your diet. Although you can have success with multiple different approaches, tracking will answer all of your questions including, “am I eating too much, too little, or the wrong foods all together?”
How To Start
Begin the process by finding your Basal Metabolic Rate(BMR). This number represents the amount of calories you burn at rest.
Use this link or the equation below to find your BMR: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
BMR = 66.47 + (6.24 X weight in lbs.) + (12.7 X height in inches) – (6.755 X age)
Add Calories Based on Lifestyle(Active BMR)
As soon as you do the activities of normal life(walking, eating, etc…) you are now burning extra calories on top of your BMR. This DOES NOT INCLUDE YOUR WORKOUT. To account for this, use the equation below:
Sedentary to Moderately Active: BMR X 1.15
Moderately to Very Active: BMR X 1.3
Don’t be afraid at a general guess initially. Every body is different and it will take some guess and check to really understand what your true BMR is. In fact, I recommend rounding your BMR to the nearest “hundred” for added simplicity. For example, my active BMR is 1,989, but 2,000 is what I actually follow.
Add Calories For Your Workout
This is where your specific goals will determine how many additional calories you will add for a workout.
- For body fat loss, I would recommend keeping a 500 calorie deficit per day. This would mean that if your ride burnt 1,500 calories, you would add an extra 1,000 calories to your Active BMR.
- For maintenance, you’ll be eating the exact amount of calories burnt through exercise in addition to your Active BMR.
- For muscle gain without gaining fat(clean bulk), start by adding 200-300 calories on top of your calories burnt through exercise then add it to your Active BMR.
- For total weight gain, still track and make sure you are eating at least an extra 500 calories per day on top of your total calories burnt through exercise and Active BMR.
Finding Your Macros
Macronutrients are the main nutrients needed for your body’s growth, energy production, and other bodily functions. These consist of Proteins (4 cals per gram), Carbohydrates (4 cals per gram), and Fats (9 cals per gram). When you track your food, you’ll realize that each type of food you eat will break down into these categories. What’s interesting is that you can have significant changes in your body’s performance and aesthetics by manipulating these numbers individually without changes your total calories. For example, you might have to raise your number in carbs on ride days to keep your energy up. You also might want to lower your carbs on days you’re less active. This is known as carb cycling and displays perfectly the demands of your body depending on activity. Some do well on higher carbs, some on higher fats, but most want to hit a minimum number of protein and that’s why I would start there.
Your protein should be at least .8 grams per pound of your body weight (up to 1.1 grams per pound). When you start tracking, make sure you hit this number and then start paying attention to the carb and fat adjustments from there.
How Do I Know How Many Calories My Workouts Burn?
Most strength workouts in the Dialed Health programs will burn 300-500 calories (depending on the program and your intensity). You can record the strength movements using a fitness tracking device(like a FitBit), but in my opinion the effort isn’t worth it. These devices take into account general averages and will not give you the exact number you're looking for. With that being said, the minimal effort required to track a ride through Garmin or Strava is worth a ballpark number to use.
Focus on being PERFECTLY IMPERFECT. The exact numbers are not as important as your consistency. Even if you’re off by 100-200 calories, the process will still work. This is important to trust because even packaged nutrition labels can be off substantially. Don’t worry about it. Just track based off of those numbers and see what happens to your body.
What You’ll Need
- A Tracking App like MyFitnessPal.
- A Food Scale. I use the Taylor Digital Scale with black glass top. Here is the link for it found at Target.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: I recommend buying multiple for convenience. The most important are a teaspoon, tablespoon, half cup, and full cup. I have found ½ sizes useful, but not necessary.
Mindset For Success
The biggest objection I hear in regards to this process is that it’s “too much work,” “too time consuming,” or just “too crazy.” Let me ask you this…how is it any different than taking the time, energy, and discipline to execute a financial budget? Does it seem crazy that someone would want to have control over their finances? This is the same mindset you need to own if you want to take control of your body. It’s understandable to have not looked at it this way previously, but if you don’t know how many calories are in a tablespoon of olive oil and the effects it has on your body (example) then you have no ability to “eat intuitively” or “better.”