10 Quick And Healthy Low-Carb Snacks That’ll Help You Ditch The Chips
Are you addicted to carbs? Here are some healthy low-carb snacks that will make you want to break up with those cookies and chips.
You’re out and about running errands. Then, all of a sudden, hunger pangs strike!
What do you do? Perhaps your first instinct is to grab a snack for a quick energy boost, such as a candy bar, cookie, muffin, or chips. If you’re trying to lose weight and keep fit, obviously none of these snacks will cut the mustard.
Thankfully, with a little bit of forethought, you can choose low-carb snacks at the grocery store that’ll not only provide great nutritional value but also keep you on the right track health-wise.
Here are 10 best low carb snacks you can chow down when you need to keep those hunger pangs at bay.
Nuts can be ideal no carb snacks. They contain healthy fat, fiber, and protein all in a single package and most are packed with nutrients.
But there two things to keep in mind when it comes to eating nuts:
- Some nuts, like cashews, actually contain a sizable amount of carbs.
- Some people find it difficult to stop when they’re eating nuts.
Make a small pot every morning and gnaw at them all day. But don’t eat too much as the carbs may soon pile up. Carefully monitor your portion sizes.
Eat lower carb nuts like almonds and macadamia. Steer clear of cashews.
The most readily available seeds are pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Chia seeds and flax seeds are other amazingly nutritious low carb snacks.
Almost all their carbs are in fiber form, which won’t raise your blood sugar. And, as a rule, check the number of carbs in seeds when you buy some from the convenience store.
Store seeds in the fridge. Only take out the portion you want to eat at a time. If you carry them to work, use little snack-sized zip bags.
3. Deli Meat
Any cold piece of deli meat is good to have at hand. Leftover meatballs, leftover roast meat, sausages, bacon, etc. are all easy and healthy low-carb snacks.
Be sure to pick meat with minimal processing, like bacon with no sugar or honey, ham off the bone, salami/pepperoni with at least 98% meat or fat and minimal additives, and sausages with at least 85% meat.
Berries are an amazing source of antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps fight disease, low immunity, and aging.
Eat fresh berries, or suck on frozen ones. You can also add some coconut cream or full-fat cream.
Buy different kinds of these low carb sweet snacks to receive all the different properties and nutrients they offer.
5. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Keep some hard-boiled eggs in your freezer. They’re a simple, convenient snack with a fair amount of fat and protein to keep your appetite under control.
Occasionally, you’ll find hard-boiled eggs at your local convenience store. They’re the ultimate snack, packed with vital vitamins, protein, and minerals. In fact, the egg white contains over half of the protein, along with vitamin C, lots of B vitamins, copper, iron, zinc, and selenium.
One big hard-boiled egg contains less than one trifling gram of carbs. Make sure to also eat the yolk as it contains all of the vitamins.
6. Raw Vegetables
Raw vegetable snack packs are becoming a pretty common sight in grocery stores.
Celery is a great choice with only a gram of carb in a 3-ounce serving. Meanwhile, three ounces of broccoli and carrot have 3 and 6 grams of carbs respectively.
You can dip your veg in peanut butter, low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt, hummus, or low-fat cream cheese.
It’s never been easier to find a low-carb drink in the grocery store.
Some great virtually carb free snacks include diet soda (0 carbs), unsweetened coffee or tea (0 carbs), unsweetened vegetable juice (11 gm), plain low-fat milk (11 gm), and coconut water (9 gm of carbs).
Another great option is plain sparkling water, which can lessen your hunger until you get back home.
8. Kale Chips
Kale is a low-carb snack, so you can munch a bit more of this delicious green without actually going too fat with calories.
It’s also nutrient-dense, and eating fewer carbs while keeping the micronutrients high is essential for your overall health.
For example, kale is loaded with B vitamins, which are crucial for converting carbs, proteins, and fats into energy. If you don’t receive enough B vitamins, your metabolism gets into sloth mode.
To make simple and quick low carb chips, drizzle kale leaves with ultra virgin olive. Add some pepper and salt to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes at a temperature of 350 degrees.
Remember, 100 gm of kale has just 8 gm of carbs and 4 gm of plant-based protein. Enjoy!
9. Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is a breakfast favorite for many of us, but it’s also perfect for dessert. Greek yogurt is low in sugar and fat and full of protein, so long as you buy the unsweetened variety.
It’ll keep you satisfied for several hours, making it an amazing snack. You can also sweeten Greek yogurt with cinnamon and add chia seeds for extra energy, fiber, and calcium.
Greek yogurt is basically high in flavor and low in carbs.
10. Hot Dogs
You can take this snack as a last resort if you don’t find anything else to eat in the store. But make sure to chuck the bun! Regardless of the bad rap they’ve received, hot dogs are absolutely fine in a pinch, providing 2 gm of protein and just 2 gm of carbs.
Although high in cholesterol and sodium, hot dogs make for a much healthier snack than a store-bought brownie (21 gm of carbs) or a pack of potato chips if you’re trying to eat healthily and stay in shape.
Final Verdict on Low-Carb Snacks
It’s quite hard to stay healthy when your freezer is filled with chips, cookies, and donuts.
Instead of gorging on high-carb snacks that’ll pile on the pounds, give these low-carb snacks a try. You can easily make them at home or get them at your local convenience store.
Our 9-week challenge can help transform your body from the inside out as you embrace healthy snacks instead of calorie-filled chips and cookies.
Our 21 Day Body Transformation Challenge combines diet and exercise to transform your look. If you want to turn heads for the right reasons, find out more here.
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No More Fitness Chores: How To Enjoy Working Out For Lasting Health
Do you actually love exercise? Probably not, and you’re not alone. Most don’t know how to enjoy working out. Here’s the secret to loving workouts for life.
Do you hate working out?
Your genes might be to blame! Studies have shown that there are some people who are genetically predisposed to hating exercise. That might help to explain why only about 20 percent of Americans meet the federal government’s recommendations for physical activity.
But you can’t put all the blame on genetics when it comes to America’s exercise problem. There are also lots of people out there who don’t have fun while exercising simply because they haven’t taken the time to learn how to enjoy working out.
If you’re one of these people, you could be missing out on all the potential benefits of establishing a regular exercise routine. You could also be cutting years off your life and skipping the chance to make yourself a more physically fit person over time.
Here are 11 tips that’ll help you snap out of it and embrace working out.
Set Fitness Goals for Yourself From the Beginning
Most people know they should get more exercise than they do. So every now and then, they’ll sign up for a gym membership and start going to the gym every day after work. Or they’ll get into the habit of going for a walk or a run at the park.
There is (obviously!) nothing wrong with trying to make a commitment to working out. But you’re going to have a heck of a time keeping up with the commitment if you don’t have any goals in mind before you begin.
Is your goal to:
- Lose the extra 20 pounds you’ve been carrying around for a few years now?
- Build up your upper body strength and core so that you don’t have back problems anymore?
- Run five miles every few days to break a sweat and break out of the monotony of spending all day in an office?
Setting goals is arguably the most important part of starting a successful workout routine. Goals will keep you on track and help you avoid running into a wall at some point when your initial motivation runs out.
It’s also important to set new goals for yourself along the way. Once you’ve lost weight, gotten stronger, and run five miles, you should push yourself to set and meet other goals. You’ll find out how to enjoy working out by taking this approach to exercise.
Start Slow and Avoid Trying to Hit All Your Goals at Once
The biggest mistake people make when they first start working out is that they often try to accomplish all the goals they set for themselves at once.
They want to lose 20 pounds in a week so they spend three hours in the gym every day. They want to be able to improve their bench press by 50 pounds after just a few workouts so they work their muscles to the point of sheer exhaustion every time they’re lifting. They want to run five miles so they run each and every day for a few weeks.
If you haven’t worked out regularly in a long time, you could put your body at real risk by overdoing it at the beginning. Your muscles and the other parts of your body aren’t ready for workouts this intense.
You’re also going to expend all your mental energy if you aren’t careful. You might reach your goals, but you could also burn out in the process and stop working out once you do. That’ll be counterproductive and won’t allow you to develop lifelong workout habits.
Start off slow instead and ease your way into working out. It’ll be better for your mind and body and motivate you to continue coming back for more.
Find Someone Who Wants to Work Out With You on a Regular Basis
If you know that you struggle to motivate yourself to go to the gym or the park to work out, it might be a good idea for you to put out feelers and find a workout buddy.
Studies have suggested that those who work out with someone else tend to work out more often and have better workouts. This is especially true when people find workout buddies who are capable of providing them with emotional support.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you just want to choose anyone to be your workout buddy. In some cases, your workout buddy might actually end up dragging you down if you have to do all the heavy lifting as far as emotional support is concerned.
Before you agree to work out regularly with a person, make sure they’re as committed to exercising as you are. Make sure they want to do similar workouts to you as well.
By teaming up with someone else, you can make it easier to get motivated to go to the gym and swap workout stories with someone who can relate to you. It’ll make working out more enjoyable for both of you and make it feel more fun.
Experiment With Different Workout Routines (and Switch Up Your Routine Regularly!)
When you first start working out on a regular basis, you’re likely going to fall into some kind of routine. Whether you’re lifting weights, running, or doing some other activity, you’re going to find yourself doing the same exercises all the time.
It’s OK to do this for a little while, but you should try to switch up your routine from time to time. It can help you:
- Steer clear of overworking certain muscles
- Strengthen muscles you’re not using now
- Breakthrough a weight loss goal you’ve been struggling to reach
- Inject some life back into your workouts
- Prevent you from simply going through the motions and not giving it your all
It’s also not a bad idea to try out different workout routines that you might not normally think to do.
For example, if you’re someone who spends a lot of time lifting weights, why not try a yoga class on for size? It could provide you with benefits like the flexibility that will help you during your regular workouts.
Or if you’re someone who spends a lot of time running, sign up for an intramural sport. It’ll build up your teamwork skills while allowing you to stay active in a different environment.
The key is to switch up your exercise routines to keep them feeling fresh. You’ll be a lot more motivated to go work out when you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when you do.
Keep a Workout Journal
It can be difficult to see the strides you’re making when you work out on a day-to-day basis. Others around you might see that you’re looking more fit, but you yourself might not notice your improvements.
Keep track of the progress you’re making by starting a workout journal, ideally when you first start working out. Write down the different exercises you do during each workout, the number of reps you complete, and more.
This will give you something to reference back to whenever you’re feeling like your workouts aren’t making a difference. You’ll be able to see proof that your workouts are paying off and turning you into a person who is substantially more fit.
Incorporate Music and Podcasts into Your Workouts
Does it feel like there’s more music being released these days than ever before?
You’re not just imagining things! People are listening to more new music today than in years past and struggling to keep up with all of it.
If you find yourself caught in this predicament, working out is a great way to give yourself the time you need to catch up on new music. You can give the latest Lil Wayne album a spin or see what the new Twenty One Pilots record is all about.
Working out is also a great way to enjoy all the best podcasts the world has to offer. Just imagine how much more motivated you’ll be to go work out when you know you have a great podcast waiting for you.
Try Not to Focus Too Much on How Much Weight You’re Losing (or Not Losing!)
If one of your goals when it comes to working out is to lose weight, listen up. You will lose weight when you work out regularly…but it might not always happen as quickly as you want it to.
Everyone loses weight at a different rate. Some people can work out for a week and drop 10 pounds, while others can work out for a month and lose two pounds.
With this in mind, you shouldn’t make losing weight your only motivating factor. Otherwise, you could end up quitting just when you’re about to make a big breakthrough simply because you aren’t patient enough.
Focus on enjoying working out and getting better at exercising as opposed to using the scale as a barometer for how well your workouts are going.
Use Your Workouts to Reduce Any Stress You’re Feeling
It’s safe to say that just about everyone in America is stressed out to some degree right now. A 2017 study found that people are stressed out over everything from health care and the economy to crime and terrorist attacks.
Rather than allowing whatever stress you feel to gnaw at you, why not use it for good? Teach yourself to reduce your stress levels by working out and eliminating a lot of your biggest stresses.
You’ll find that you think more clearly and process stress better after a great workout. You’ll also have a more positive outlook on your life and everything in it when exercise is a major part of your life.
That alone should be enough to inspire you to continue working out over and over again once you start doing it regularly.
Reward Yourself Every Now and Then
There are a lot of sacrifices that are going to come along with working out on a regular basis.
You’re obviously going to be giving up a lot of your time to work out. You’re also going to be giving up money for gym memberships, workout gear, and more. You might even decide to start eating healthier to hit more of your fitness goals.
This is all great! And before long, it won’t even feel like you’re sacrificing anymore. You’ll be gaining so much from working out that your sacrifices will feel small compared to what you’re getting in return.
But don’t forget to reward yourself every now and then for putting in the time, effort, and money to work out. Have an extra slice of cake every now and then or take a day off if you feel like your body could use it.
Avoid Being Too Hard on Yourself If You Miss a Workout or Two
Believe it or not, there’s going to come a time when you–yes, you!–are going to miss a workout and feel guilty about it. There is an anxiety that washes over a lot of people when they’re forced to miss a workout for whatever reason.
It’s easy to beat yourself up over it. Even if you had a completely reasonable excuse for skipping the gym or a run, you’re going to convince yourself otherwise and feel awful.
Don’t worry too much about it. The great thing about exercising is that it’s about more than one or two individual workouts. It’s about committing yourself to lead a healthier lifestyle and then sticking to it over the long haul.
Just don’t let one or two missed workouts turn into one or two months of not working out. It can be tough to get back on the right track once you veer off it. So get back in the gym as soon as you can and continue living your best life.
Enroll Yourself in a Fitness Challenge
Have you tried everything else and found that you still can’t seem to muster up the strength to work out? A fitness challenge might be exactly what you need.
The 9-Week Challenge, in particular, can prove to be beneficial for those who don’t necessarily love to work out. In less than two months, you can totally transform your body by working with a fitness coach while still eating delicious food.
You’ll love the way you look and feel at the end of the challenge, and it’ll put a good foundation in place for you to continue to eat right and work out more than you did before.
Once You Know How to Enjoy Working Out, It Won’t Feel Like a Chore
It’s not as hard to learn how to enjoy working out as you might think. Even if you absolutely hate the idea of doing it now, you can transform yourself into a workout warrior in no time.
Start by setting some goals for yourself and easing your way into a routine. Then, try some different workouts and set up a workout journal, and before you know it, you’ll be a regular. It’ll turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made.
Our 21 Day Body Transformation Challenge combines diet and exercise to transform your look. If you want to turn heads for the right reasons, find out more here.
Cardio vs Weightlifting: How to Decide Which Is Best for Your Weight Loss
You know how it goes.
You try to prepare healthy meals for yourself. Maybe you even count your calories. Sometimes, it just isn’t enough.
For those of us who want to lose weight, we need to add some exercise to our routine to see the best results.
With so many options, it can be hard to choose what’s best for you. Let’s talk about the two most popular types of exercise. Weightlifting and cardio.
Why Diet Doesn’t Always Cut It
This is a tough one to say because a good diet has so much to offer.
Don’t think that we’re saying diet isn’t important! You’ve probably heard the expression: “Abs start in the kitchen.” It’s true. Diet can account for the majority of our weight loss results. The issue is that for some of us, it just isn’t enough.
For some people, the problem is having too many cheat meals. For others, it’s simple genetics.
A proper combination of diet and exercise is the most effective way to lose weight. Let’s talk about the benefits.
Why Exercise is Important
Let’s start with the basics. To understand which form of exercise is right for you, we need to understand what we’re talking about.
We all know that diet and exercise can lead to a very healthy life, but why?
Here are just a few benefits of regular exercise, in any capacity:
Okay, yes. Sometimes we leave the gym feeling exhausted. There is no denying it.
However, we still benefit from a lot of energy-boosting hormones that develop the more we exercise.
People who work out tend to get better, more effective sleep. This leads to significantly improved levels of energy throughout the day. No more feeling tired at work!
Check out the best times to exercise for better sleep.
Improved Mood and Brain Health
Exercise is known for the benefits to your body. It can go a long way for your overall health, too.
Regular exercise releases hormones and neurotransmitters. These include:
- Serotonin – Known as the “Happy Hormone”. It regulates mood, social behavior, sleep, memory, and digestion.
- Dopamine – Known for pleasurable effects, as well as improved memory and emotions.
- Norepinephrine – Promotes memory and focuses attention.
These neurotransmitters are naturally formed by your body. Keeping a healthy balance of them is believed to have a critical role in preventing conditions. These conditions include depression, anxiety, and even dementia.
If you haven’t heard enough reasons to start hitting the gym, we’re not even done!
This is an issue more and more people are struggling with. Whether we like it or not, we all want to look good.
Nothing helps build confidence like seeing results in the mirror. The best part: the results can keep coming!
Achieve the body you’ve always wanted, and learn to be happy with how you look!
Increased Strength and Endurance
This is the one we hear about the most.
Have you ever been out of breath after walking up a couple flights of stairs? Maybe you’ve had an embarrassing moment trying to lift up something heavy. We’ve all been there.
This is avoidable. Regular exercise can get us in shape, and build our strength!
Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to exercise. Enough to fill up a book. So let’s talk about the most popular types of exercise.
Strength training has been a popular and effective tool for humans since the start of their existence. But everything evolves.
There are so many different forms of strength training, it’s hard to keep track. So let’s only talk about lifting weights, which has a few subcategories of its own.
Let’s discuss the most popular.
Weight machines are a new development and are very popular. You’ll see them in almost every weight room.
There are a lot of benefits to machines, including:
- Ease of use – Machines do not require training for form. There are usually images that will show you the proper movement. You also only need to move a pin to change the weight.
- Availability – Almost every gym now has incorporated machines into their equipment.
- Muscle growth – Varying your machine use is typically used for muscle growth, more than strength.
Let’s flip to the other side of the coin. Here are some of the downsides of machines:
- Isolation movements – Machines tend to focus on one muscle or one muscle group. Compound movements are more effective for gaining strength.
- Limited function – These are unnatural movements and do not translate well into functional strength.
- Can increase the risk of injury – With the unnatural movements involved, and the added weight, it can lead to injury.
Here is a helpful guide to weight machines if you want to learn more.
Using dumbbells and barbells is great for functional strength and muscular endurance.
Free weight exercises have a lot of benefits:
- Control and stability – Gain more balance and coordination by mastering the movements.
- Strength – You will see strength gains in free weight training a lot more than with machines.
- Function – Gain functional strength to help you with your daily activities.
The risks of free weight exercises include:
- Learning the form – This can take time, but it’s absolutely necessary.
- The potential for injury – This is especially true if we don’t learn the form!
These exercises can include a very wide variety. Here are some examples of free weight exercises.
This is the best for pure strength. Powerlifting consists of only three functional movements:
- Squat – Mimics the motion of sitting down and standing up. Improves leg and core strength.
- Bench Press – Uses a pushing motion. Improves chest, tricep and shoulder strength.
- Deadlift – Practices the act of lifting something off of the ground. Works on core, back and leg strength.
The benefits of powerlifting are simple: building strength.
The downsides are just as clear:
- Training – There is lots of practice involved in learning the proper form to limit the risk of injury.
- Limited movements – You also commit yourself to train three specific movements. That’s not to say you can’t incorporate other training with it. Most powerlifters do.
So we’ve learned a bit about the different forms of weightlifting. You can learn more about weightlifting here. We will get into the benefits in a bit. For now, let’s talk about cardio.
Let’s dive into a few popular forms of cardio.
Every gym has some treadmills. This can be an easy way to get started.
We all know about other machines like:
- Elliptical machines – Not a very functional movement, but great for burning some calories!
- Stair climbers – These are excellent for cardio, but they wear you out quickly.
- Stationary bikes – Very popular and easy to use.
These are great. The most obvious downside is that it can get boring. Staying in one place the whole time can make you lose your motivation.
An added bonus is that a lot of these machines will give you feedback. Many will even estimate the number of calories you burn while using them.
There are a lot of different cardio machines out there. Here is a guide to the best and worst cardio machines if you want to learn more.
This is something you can do anywhere.
Whether you’re jogging or sprinting, running can be very beneficial.
Find out which type of running is better for you.
This could be anything. It often involves strength training, but typically with body-weight movements.
Circuit training can apply to pure weight training, as well.
For cardio, it can apply to combinations of running, jumping rope, or anything you can think of.
Check out some ideas on how to develop a circuit training routine.
Weightlifting and Cardio: Which is Better?
We’ve gone over a lot about how weightlifting and cardio differ. So which one is better? Let’s quickly summarize and talk about their benefits and risks.
Benefits of Weightlifting
Let’s discuss the overall benefits of weightlifting that all types share:
- Increased metabolism – This is a big key to weight loss. Your starving muscles become a fat-burning machine. Calories burned lifting weights are not as much as with cardio. That’s during the workout. The “afterburn” more than makes up for it.
- Improved strength – This can help you in your everyday life, in more ways than you would expect.
- Long-term benefits – It is easier to get out of shape than to lose strength. On top of that, the metabolic benefits tend to last longer with weight training.
Let’s also debunk the myth that lifting weights will make women too bulky. It’s not a risk unless you are training for it.
An added bonus with weightlifting is you have more freedom. There is a large variety of movements. On top of that, you can change up your weight and rep scheme with ease.
Also, weightlifting can be fun! A lot of people get bored with cardio and other exercises. Weight training can be new and exciting almost every time you start a session.
There are a lot more benefits that we haven’t discussed. Talk to a personal trainer or click here to learn more.
Risks of Weightlifting
Let’s face it, you can have all of the practice in the world. It can be any type of weightlifting. There is a higher potential for injury.
Luckily, there are skilled personal trainers out there to help you avoid this.
On top of that, you are more likely to feel sore after a strength training workout. While beneficial, this can be a pain. Literally.
Weightlifting can be tough for beginners. The more you train, the more you gain. The risks will take care of themselves with proper training and consistency.
Benefits of Cardio
There are a lot. Cardio is largely associated with the health benefits that we discussed at the beginning. Let’s go over just a few:
- Fewer restrictions – Cardio can be done anywhere, at any time. No need for equipment.
- Heart health – It’s in the name.
- Burning calories – This is cardio’s claim to fame.
- Brain health – Cardio is a big help for releasing the hormones and neurotransmitters we discussed. There is really nothing better for it.
It’s easy to see why cardio can be appealing. You can let your mind wander and perform your tasks without thinking about it too much.
You also have the benefit of a pleasurable feeling the next day. There is less risk of feeling sore.
Obviously, these rewards don’t come without risks.
Risks of Cardio
One possible side effect of cardio is the loss of muscle. This is especially true for distance runners and joggers.
Another issue is exhaustion. Doing extensive amounts of cardio can lead to a hard desire to go to bed.
Last, but not least: fat retention. That’s right. Over-training with cardio can make your body adapt to stress. This can make your body lose muscle, and lower your metabolic rate. Research about the pros and cons of cardio to learn more.
No good thing comes without downsides. There are ways to avoid these. The longer you keep up with your training, the easier it gets.
Check out the 6 crucial facts of cardio to learn more.
The edge has to go to weight lifting. The benefits of the “afterburn” are too hard to pass up. That increase in metabolism is extremely helpful in losing weight.
This is not to say that a combination of the two is a bad idea. There is nothing wrong with running and lifting weights. Cardio and weightlifting can go hand in hand.
Think about it. The stress reduction and other health benefits of cardio? The strength and metabolism boost from weightlifting? They make a great pair.
None of this can be accomplished without getting started. If you’re already doing cardio, and want to change it up, read up on how to start weightlifting now!
What’s Right For You?
Honestly, there is no right answer here.
The best advice we can give is to utilize the best of both worlds. Weightlifting and cardio. Or at least to try them both out and see what is best for you. Sticking to the plan is the most important part.
Either way, we’ve learned the benefits of exercising. There’s no need to wait. Now is the best time to start losing weight!
Click here to check out our 21 Day Body Transformation Challenge and get started today!
Macros VS Calories: Which Should You Count For Weight Loss
If you’re trying to lose weight by way of what you eat, you’ve heard about macros VS calories. Click here to find out what they are and which ones to count.
The holidays are coming up in a hurry. That means reconnecting with family and friends, taking pictures, and maybe even paying a visit to your old hometown.
This is the time of year when many of us panic and say, “Oh no, I can’t enjoy the holidays looking like THIS!”
No matter what your weight loss motivation might be, it starts with getting educated. If you’re scouring the internet for weight loss tips, you’ve been hit by an avalanche and you need to sift through the myths and half-truths to find your path.
One of the greatest debates about weight loss is whether it’s best to count macros vs calories. We’re putting it to rest once and for all. Here’s what you need to know.
Counting Macros Vs Calories: What Do I Need to Do to Lose Weight?
We’ll cut to the chase: to lose weight the right way, you need to do both. Your body is an atmosphere with a delicate balance, and you need to manage your overall calories as well as your macros to stimulate healthy weight loss.
To help you find that perfect balance, we’ll break it down one piece at a time.
Why Calories Matter for Weight Loss
Most people know the basic concept of weight loss. If you take in more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. But why?
A calorie is a unit of energy that your body uses for all its functions, from basic survival to hitting the pavement for a run. Our bodies are programmed for survival in the wilderness, where we wouldn’t know when our next meal was coming.
If we have more energy than our body needs, the body stores the extra energy inside our fat cells so it can use it at a later time if we can’t get the food we need. When your body needs more energy than you’re giving it, it pulls the energy from those stored fat cells and uses it, leading to weight loss.
To put it in simple terms, you need to burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight. That’s why counting calories is the method most people use for weight loss: because it’s easy and it can get the job done.
However, your daily calorie count doesn’t give you the full picture. As we’ll explain later, not all sources of calories are equal.
How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?
This is the million-dollar question: if I need to eat fewer calories to lose weight, what should my limit be? As you may expect, it varies from one person to another. Here’s how to calculate your calorie goal.
1. Find Your BMR
Everyone’s body requires a different number of calories for its basic functions like digestion, maintaining a heartbeat, and more. That number is your basal metabolic rate or BMR.
Your estimated BMR depends on your height, weight, age, and gender. You can use an online BMR calculator to find your estimated BMR.
As an example, let’s use Jane Doe. She’s a 40-year-old woman who’s 66 inches tall and she weighs 180 pounds. Based on an online calculator, her BMR is 1560. In other words, if she were to lay around all day and do no activity, she would burn 1,560 calories.
2. Factor in Your Activity Level
Now that you know your BMR, you need to factor in your typical activity level to see how many total calories your body burns on an average day.
Take a look at how much exercise you get in a typical week and assign it a number on a scale of 1.2 to 1.9. If you are sedentary and do little or no activity on a daily basis, you’re a 1.2. A 1.9, on the other hand, would be a professional athlete or someone who exercises often on top of a hard labor job.
When you’ve decided where your activity level is on this scale, multiply that number by your BMR. This is called the Harris Benedict Formula. It gives you an estimate of how many calories you need to eat on a daily basis.
Let’s go back to our Jane Doe example. She does a moderate workout three times per week, so we’ll put her at a 1.5 on the activity scale. If she multiplies that by her BMR of 1560, her total daily estimated calorie usage is 2,340.
3. Calculate Your Calorie Goal
The calculations above give you the number of calories you need to eat each day to maintain your same weight. The next step is to determine how many calories you should eat in order to lose weight.
It all depends on your desired weight loss rate. In general, you need to burn about 3500 more calories than you eat to lose one pound.
Let’s assume Jane Doe wants to lose two pounds per week. That means she needs a 7,000 calorie deficit each week.
To hit that goal, Jane Doe should eat 1,000 fewer calories than she burns each day. The puts her daily calorie limit at 1,340.
Of course, that’s only part of the story. To get the results she wants, Jane Doe needs to make sure those 1,340 calories are coming from the right sources. That’s where macronutrients come into play in our nine-week weight loss challenge.
Why Macronutrients Matter for Weight Loss
Food does more than give your body energy. It also gives your body the specific nutrients it needs to perform every function you need on a daily basis. That’s why your macros are so important: they make sure your body has what it needs to function.
There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each one has its own nutrients and components your body needs. The key to weight loss is making sure that your body gets enough of each macronutrient within your daily calorie goal.
Carbs have gotten a bad reputation over the years, and it’s only somewhat warranted.
Carbs are your body’s first source of energy. If you take in more carbs than your body needs, it stores the remaining carbs in your fat cells, enlarging them and causing weight gain.
If your body needs more energy than it’s getting from the carbs you’re eating, it pulls stored energy from your fat cells and you lose weight. That’s why low-carb diets are so popular. They cut to the chase and stimulate fast weight loss.
The second key macro is protein. In the same way that people vilify carbs, they glorify protein.
They aren’t all wrong. Protein is made of amino acids, which are the building blocks for all your cells. They’re essential to healthy body functions.
Proteins are also necessary for your body to build muscle. The way you build muscle is that when you exercise, the effort creates tiny micro-tears in the muscle fibers. When your body repairs those tears with materials from protein, it makes the muscles stronger.
That brings up an important misconception: protein itself doesn’t make you build muscle and get fit. It gives your body what it needs to build muscle as a result of your exercise. You still need to work out to gain muscle.
Fat has become a dirty word, but thanks to more and more nutritional education, we’re changing that misconception. Dietary fat isn’t the same as fat in your body. If you stop eating fat, it doesn’t mean your body will burn your fat cells to replace it.
Dietary fat is your body’s second source of energy after it has depleted the carbs and before it starts burning stored energy. Fat is also a vital part of your diet because it includes nutrients your body needs to operate at its best.
The key is choosing healthy fats, like avocado and eggs instead of high-fat sweets.
How to Balance Your Macros for Weight Loss
Now you know the three macros you need each day, but how much of each one do you need?
In general, you should aim to get 40% of your daily calories from carbs, 40% from proteins, and 20% from fat.
While that sounds simple, it takes some calculation. Let’s use Jane Doe as our example. Her daily goal is 1,340 calories. That means she should get 536 calories from carbs, 536 from proteins, and 268 from fats each day.
The problem is that nutrition labels list the grams of each macro in your food, not the calories. That’s another calculation you have to do.
Each gram of carbs and proteins contains about four calories. Each gram of fat contains about nine calories. That means Jane Doe needs to eat 134 grams of carbs, 134 grams of protein, and 30 grams of fat every day.
Keep in mind that this is all based on a general weight loss goal. Depending on your specific goals, a nutritionist might suggest changing these ratios. For instance, someone who wants to build muscle while they lose weight might need more protein.
Tips for Losing Weight While Counting Calories and Macros
It’s not about choosing between counting calories or balancing your macros. You need both to lose weight while staying healthy. You might be able to lose weight without considering your macros, but you could compromise your health.
Your results also won’t be the same if you don’t keep your macros in line. If you’ve ever wondered why some people who lose weight end up toned while others don’t, the macros are a common reason.
If you’re ready to get started, here are some tips:
1. Work the Numbers
Considering how much of this blog is dedicated to math, you can see how important numbers are in getting your diet right. People who say, “I’m just going to estimate how healthy things are,” rarely reach their goals.
It’s also important to re-work your numbers every so often. As you lose weight, your BMR will change and your activity levels might change too. Re-do your calculations and your goals every month or two depending on your progress.
2. Keep It As a Work in Progress
You need to recognize that these numbers aren’t an exact science. Everyone’s body is unique in the ways and rates at which it processes calories.
Studies even show that the numbers vary based on ethnicity and weight history. Monitor your progress and don’t be afraid to adjust your goals and percentages if necessary.
As you do this, pay attention to more than the scale. Do you feel run-down all the time? Are you too weak to work out? If so, it’s time for an adjustment.
3. Use Water for All It’s Worth
To be blunt, drinking water helps you lose weight. It’s a well-known fact in the medical community, but not all dieters recognize it.
Hydration helps you have the energy to work out and stay active. In some cases, people think they’re hungry when they’re actually thirsty. If you drink water when you feel hungry, it could prevent you from eating more than you need.
In many cases, people who drink water soon before a meal also eat less food. It’s a great technique to try if you tend to overeat or if you leave the table still feeling hungry.
4. Planning, Planning, and More Planning
Chances are that on-the-fly decisions have landed you in a position to want to lose weight in the first place. It’s impossible to estimate the calories in a dish if you don’t know how it was prepared.
Hitting your calorie and macro goals require planning ahead. Plan your meals in advance to get the balance you need. If you plan to go to a restaurant, look up the nutritional information if possible and plan your meal ahead of time, based on the numbers.
5. Don’t Try to Go It Alone
This one’s crucial. Study after study has shown that people who lose weight with a partner, coach, or buddy are more successful. Look to a professional like our weight loss coaches for knowledgeable guidance and emotional support.
Losing Weight With a Plan
For most people, weight loss isn’t a “wing it” type of task. In many cases, we aren’t aware of how unhealthy our food choices are until we look at the calorie content and the macros they contain.
The key is planning ahead. Medical researchers have learned so much about macros vs calories, the way our bodies work, and what causes weight loss. The information above can help you take advantage of it.
If you’re ready to get started and begin working toward your best body today, our 21 Day Body Transformation Challenge combines diet and exercise to transform your look. If you want to turn heads for the right reasons, find out more here.