By JERRY HITCHCOCK
Whether you have already succumbed to your New Year’s resolution to lose weight, are kicking around a workout/weight loss routine, or maybe you just want to maintain your current weight, knowing the proper caloric intake is essential to your goal.
While caloric intake is an essential ingredient in the above scenarios, it is imperative that you go by the guidelines to 1) ensure your body gets the right amount of fuel when needed and 2) You’re not overconsuming — or of equal importance — underconsuming.
One thing many people don’t consider when they are exercising on a regular basis, is the fact that their bodies undertake faster metabolisms, thus needing more calories to maintain their body’s healthy operation. Just remember that these needs involve good proteins and carbs, and not the junk-food variety.
So what’s it going to be? In our society today, the average person is overweight, with (according to what study or report you want to quote from) anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of people are obese.
The best news when faced with the above figures is that things are never hopeless. A steady plan of light or moderate exercise and a matching daily caloric intake can make most people shed 1/2 to 1 pound a week, with 2 pounds a week an easier goal after someone has been following a weight-loss plan for some time.
There are plenty of online calorie calculators, and once you set your weight-loss (or weight maintain) goals, most can tell you what amount of total calories (minus your exercise and daily routine usage) your body requires for your goal.
For example, right now, plans for me — a guy who adheres to a “very active” daily workout routine — to lose between 0 and 2 pounds per week, based on my current activity level are as follows: maintain weight = 2,044 calories/day; lose 1 pound per week = 2,100 calories; lose 2 pounds per week = 1,938 calories.
These estimates are based on an estimate of 800-900 calories used per workout. I normally expend between 1,200-2,000 in my workouts, which range from 1.5 to 2 hours per day, five days per week, so I’d have to adjust accordingly.
I am also supposed to consume 64 ounces of water per day, regardless of my activity level. Water plays an important role, hydrating the skin, flushing our toxins and helping to curb appetite.
Your activity level (as well as your weight/height) will alter your water needs, but most adults need at least 4 12-ounce glasses (48 ounces) per day, with a significant increase depending on how much you lose through sweat.
As I stated earlier, there is a minimum of calories you need per day, to avoid from losing muscle tone. As the body is starved for calories, it will cannibalize itself by robbing muscle tone, so if you think that 5-peanuts-per-day diet is helping, think again.
Same thing with water. Robbing the body of fluid can have serious health consequences. Remember: water has no calories, so there is no reason to skimp and deprive yourself of this necessity. It fills you up and you will keep that “full” feeling longer.
Many people work out and take supplements, with the thought being that these pills, shakes or fluids can aid in weight loss. I’ve heard a ton of rationalization on this front: “I can work out longer,” “It allows me to exercise harder,” “It makes me feel better.”
Whatever the rationalization is, many athletes don’t do their research before ingesting. Many times the caloric, sugar or other metric has skewed their daily consumption requirements or goals much more than they ever thought.
While many supplements can benefit an athlete, the normal, everyday person just looking to lose a few pounds is not going to get much benefit from the plethora of supplements on the shelves these days — aside from a thinner wallet.
Most people will exhibit a strong appetite after a workout, which is indeed what should happen. This is when your body is craving the calories to replace those just spent in a workout routine. The Golden Hour (the 60 minutes right after a workout) is the key time to consume at least the amount of calories you just burned, in order for your body to begin the operation of recovering from the workout. If your body does not get the needed protein (probably somewhere in the 6 to 8 grams, which amounts to a couple ounces of turkey or chicken), your muscles will suffer some deterioration. The protein (and some massaging with a foam roller) will also aid in avoiding muscle stiffness.
After a healthy meal, I usually treat myself to frozen yogurt and milk “shake” or some other such indulgence — after all, you need something to look forward to during your workout!
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Jerry Hitchcock can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2017, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at HitchTheWriter.