Written by: Michele Zandman - Frankel
Owner, Coach, IFBB Pro, B.S. Health and Exercise Science, Athletic Nutrition Specialist
Here are some of the top questions we have received from our RevolutioniZe Nutrition members regarding caloric intake and caloric expenditure.
Are caloric intake trackers such as “My Fitness Pal” accurate? - No matter what food tracker you use, there will always be a slight margin of error. They can be accurate, but perhaps not PRECISE. However, here are some strategies to assure you are as accurate as possible while logging your food and tracking macros.
Make sure you correctly track the quantity of food you are eating.
Enter the correct food item with a COMPLETE and ACCURATE nutrition label. For instance, make sure the calories and all macronutrients are provided and mathematically make sense. Remember, 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories, 1 gram of fat = 9 calories.
Make sure the barcode scanner is connecting you with the correct food item. Cross reference the nutrition facts that appear on your “MyFitnessPal” after scanning a barcode with the nutrition label on the actual food package .
If you search a food item and several options with significant differences in macros and calories appear, cross reference those food items with the USDA nutrition label that you can find on a Google search. Then save it as a “favorite food” in your MFP app for easier search in the future .
“Create your own food” and save it in the app, but inputting or guesstimating each ingredient and amount of that ingredient individually, and save it for ease in the future. For instance, if you bought a sandwich at the store, add each ingredient of that sandwich and the amounts individually in to your app and save it for repeat use in the future. It’s a little work the first time around, but makes future tracking a breeze!
2. Are caloric expenditure trackers correct? NO. But they do serve as a great source of motivation. There are too many variables involved that can skew your total caloric burn by the end of the day. Every piece of equipment, such as a FitBit, Apple Watch, chest strap heart rate monitor, or the calorie counter on the treadmill, are all going to give you different answers.
3. Why is it important to understand TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)? Let’s break this down further and explain all of the components of TDEE.
EAT (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is one of the smaller components of TDEE. Yet it is the sole piece of the puzzle that most of us get caught up on. “I burned ‘X’ amount of calories during my work out”. Yet the remainder of the day is the BULK of our TDEE and also very important to understand and appreciate.
b. BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) refers to the calories burned or energy used for your body to perform basic life sustaining functioning. This is the largest part of our TDEE.
c. TEF (Thermic Effect of Food) briefly refers to the calories burned to ingest, break down and metabolize food. For example, protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates and fats. In simple terms it requires more energy to break down protein than carbohydrates and fats.
d. NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is also a large component of our TDEE. This refers to the energy used or calories burned during any movement that isn’t considered exercise. For example, fidgeting, holding good posture, walking to the mailbox, washing dishes, working a job that involves you moving around or is more labor intensive.
All of these components, EAT, BMR, TEF, and NEAT, make up your TDEE. Sometimes our training session is so intense, it can wipe us out and make us plop on the couch for the rest of the day, in which our NEAT would be reduced tremendously, potentially resulting in less overall calories burned for the full day than desired. Exercise is extremely important, but keep in mind, what you do the other 23 hours of the day, assuming your training was 1 hour in duration, is also significant.
4. Why don't I burn a lot of calories even though I hit my 10k steps per day? In simple terms, INTENSITY MATTERS! Getting those steps in daily is a WONDERFUL goal to have. It is most likely that walking 10k steps per day vs 5k steps per day will result in more calories burned by the end of the day. However, if you are looking to advance your cardiovascular conditioning, endurance, or metabolic rate, you will also want your heart rate to increase to a specific target rate for a duration of time, and learn how to structure a training regimen that will allow you to continue to make progress. This will benefit many other health factors! Not just “calories burned”.
5. Does my metabolism slow down as I get older? BMR does shift, however changes in our lifestyles from when we were 18 years old to 65 years old, tend to be the most significant factor effecting TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure or calories burned). **For the most part**, when we are younger, we are more physically active, playing sports, dancing, outside with friends, working out, etc, and as we get older, we tend to become more sedentary. This is one of the many reasons that it is important to continue practicing an active lifestyle as we age. We can keep our metabolism healthy by not “hard restrictive dieting” for long amounts of time, staying active, and increasing the amount of muscle mass on our body. The more muscle mass we carry, the more metabolically active tissue we have, and therefore, the more energy we burn to maintain that muscle through the day.
If you have more questions regarding this topic, or have another topic you would like us to discuss in our next Instagram REV LIVE and blog, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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