I have a couple of clients who are under their daily caloric needs for weight loss. The calories were calculated using their body fat %, age, height, weight, and activity level. One client should be around 1900 and after having him keep track of his calories for a week, he fluctuated from 1100 to 1700 per day. I tried to explain how we need to slowly introduce calories into his diet, but he’s so afraid of gaining weight. He’s lost about 20 pounds already and is down 1 pound from last week. Is it better to allow his to continue his eating habits or get his calories up? He really needs the calories to continue building muscle and keep his energy level up to perform better. We train about 3 days a week with various workouts that range from strength training, to endurance training, to power and interval training.
*I should add that we started training in January, so he’s lost 20 pounds in about 7 months. He still need to drop about 12 more pounds of body fat.
Our clients need to learn the truth about calories, and replace the false beliefs with true fitness related beliefs, and in this case about calories. A common false fitness belief is: “Cutting back on calories will help me to lose weight and be fit”. They must learn that following this belief they will lose weight – but the wrong kind: mostly lean body mass and fat burning muscle. They need to learn and understand Caloric Balance, or the Energy Balance Theory. This can be taught in the initial consultation, or as soon as possible along with other related nutrition concepts. However, this can “go in one ear and out the other” if you only tell them and not provide the information for them to take home with. Provide your clients with your referral of a good book that explains calories in detail. I teach them from my own paperback book “The Fitness Quadrant”, which explain it all in detail, and saves both me and my clients a lot of time and money as they can learn the knowledge at home and not only when they are with me in a consultation or session.
In a short nutshell, as we move through our day our activity and caloric intake must balance. If our caloric balance is that being that we are consuming more calories than we require then our bodies store the excess calories as body fat (adipose tissue) as a fuel reserve. If we are not supplying enough calories for fuel then our bodies will cannibalize themselves by converting existing muscle mass into fuel and hence give up our lean body mass that requires caloric fuel so that the lower amounts of fuel will balance with the amount of lean mass requiring fuel.
During their fitness evaluation I determine their body composition, learn their individual daily activity level between sedentary and active, and using a formula determine their total calories and daily caloric percentages of Protein, Carbs and Fats.