How Many Calories?
1. Total Calories for your goal
At different times you may have different goals. The most common goal that most trainers and coaches are asked for guidance and support about are weight loss or fat loss. This means the client will need to be in a calorie deficit, through nutritional intake and activity.
Another goal may be muscle building. This requires a calorie surplus - eating more to provide energy for muscle growth from resistance training.
There is also a growing body of evidence to support having calories around maintenance level - in balance of energy needs. Body weight should remain stable and there is potential for muscle growth. This is known as recomposition or recomping.
Another reason to have times at maintenance calories is to take a break from being in a deficit. This may be every 6 to 8 weeks of a fat loss plan. It helps to replenish glycogen stores for energy and to include some foods that might have been reduced in the deficit phase. These “diet breaks” have been shown to help with overall adherence - being able to stick to the deficit. This can help with longer term, sustainable progress.
2. Prioritise Protein
Protein can promote the feeling of fullness after a meal or snack. It will maintain muscle whilst in a deficit, help recovery from training and with gaining muscle while recomping or in a surplus. A greater percentage of protein is needed in a deficit, but more is not always better as the calories are best balanced with carbs and fats for energy and other physiological functions.
3. Carbohydrates and fats to suit you
The makeup of the rest of your nutritional intake is flexible to suit you and your day to day preferences. Carbohydrates and Fats both provide energy and are needed for other functions.
Having flexibility with carbs and fats can help with staying on track with your total calories, as you don't have to exclude things you enjoy, example sweet treats and or an alcoholic drink.
Complete exclusion of some foods can quickly become unsustainable. This can lead to not following these nutrition principles over the time required to see the desired results.
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