THE NUMBERS AND SCIENCE BEHIND IT ALL
As with most things in life, science underpins how and why all of your body’s processes work. Below are a few easy-to-follow guidelines on how many calories, proteins, carbs and fats your body needs daily according to your age, activity level and weight.
Let’s start by saying that you cannot out-train a bad diet. If your diet is not right, you will not get the results you are looking for by training harder. Every person’s body needs a different number of calories (energy units) every day to function optimally. It can be anything between 1 200 and 4 000, depending on your gender, age, height, weight and activity level. A lady of 65 who weighs 50kg while following an inactive lifestyle might only need 1 200 calories a day to fuel her basic body functions, while a 20-year-old man who weighs 115kg, is 1.9m tall, trains twice a day and has an active job might need 4 000 calories to maintain his weight.
The science is simple: To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body needs. To gain weight, you need to consume more.
All foods contain only three macronutrients, namely protein, carbohydrates and fats. The consumption of these three macronutrients is the only means for the body to obtain energy, while each of them performs different functions to assist your body in carrying out its work. It is important to know how much of each you need daily, otherwise you won’t reach your goals. Here is a quick breakdown of how many calories there are to each gram of macronutrient:
1g of protein = 4 calories
1g of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1g of fat = 9 calories
1g of alcohol = 7 calories
Protein is essential for life. It provides the building blocks for your body’s tissues, organs, hormones and enzymes. This macronutrient is crucial for building and maintaining muscle mass. It also increases satiety, which is why it’s so important to ingest enough protein when you’re limiting your calories to meet a fat-loss goal.
The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals and lifestyle. The daily minimum recommended by the National Institute of Health is 1 gram per kg for a sedentary person. However, if you do intense workouts or have a physically demanding job, you’ll need a whole lot more. While the average healthy diet provides enough protein for most people, it may benefit you to bump up your intake if you exercise to build muscle or lose fat. At MUNCH MEASURED MEALS we recommend a high-protein diet with different carb options to help you reach your goals.
For fat loss, you can bump your protein intake up to 1.8g per kilogram, while for muscle gain you can increase it to 2.5g per kilogram. Remember, it’s your lean weight and not your current weight that we are talking about.
A 30-year-old woman who weighs 60kg, is 1.72m tall and follows a moderately active lifestyle will need to consume 160g of protein to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.
For the same woman to maintain her weight, she would need to consume 120g of protein per day, while she would have to consume 180g of protein to gain muscle mass.
A male weighing 100kg might need up to 250g of protein to gain muscle mass. To maintain muscle mass while cutting fat, he would have to consume around 200g of protein.
Let’s take a quick look at how much protein different foods contain per 100g.
At MUNCH MEASURED MEALS, we use seven primary sources of protein:
Beef (trimmed) = 23g
Chicken breast = 31g
Venison = 23g
Pork fillet = 21g
Hake = 19.2g
Salmon = 20g
1 Egg = 6g
For example, a male person who weighs 100kg and wants to gain muscle would need to eat 1.150kg of beef or 900g of chicken breast a day to meet the requirement of 250g of net protein per day.
In the same way, we calculate the exact amount of raw protein needed in each of our meals to meet the macronutrient grammage in the muscle meal, lean gains and super-shed ranges.
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Though often maligned by proponents of trendy diets, carbohydrates — one of the basic food groups — are important to a healthy diet and play an important role in the diet of any athlete or bodybuilder. They are called carbohydrates because, at a chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source, and enable fat metabolism. In addition, carbohydrates are important for your brain functions. They have an influence on your mood, memory, etc., as well as being a quick energy source. In fact, the RDA of carbohydrates is based on the number of carbs that the brain needs to function properly.
As with proteins, your daily carbohydrate needs depend on your weight, activity level, height and so forth.
Most of the carbohydrates in the foods you eat are digested and broken down into glucose before entering the bloodstream. Glucose in the blood is taken up into your body’s cells and used to produce a fuel molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through a series of complex processes known as cellular respiration. Your cells can then use the ATP to power a variety of metabolic tasks.
Most cells in the body can produce ATP from several sources, including dietary carbohydrates and fats. But if you are consuming a diet with a mix of these nutrients, most of your body’s cells will prefer to use carbs as their primary energy source. Therefore, we use very little fat in any of our cooking processes.
If your body has enough glucose to fulfil its current needs, excess glucose can be stored for later use. This stored form of glucose is called glycogen and is primarily found in the liver and muscles.
The liver contains approximately 100 grams of glycogen. These stored glucose molecules can be released into the blood to provide energy throughout the body and help maintain normal blood sugar levels between meals.
Unlike liver glycogen, the glycogen in your muscles can only be used by muscle cells. It is vital for use during long periods of high-intensity exercise. Muscle glycogen content varies from person to person, but it’s approximately 500 grams.
If you have all of the glucose your body needs and your glycogen stores are full, your body can convert excess carbohydrates into triglyceride molecules and store them as fat.
When you lack glucose from carbohydrates, your muscles can also be broken down into amino acids and converted into glucose or other compounds to generate energy. Obviously, this is not an ideal scenario, since muscle cells are crucial for body movement and for maintaining a beautifully toned body. A severe loss of muscle mass has been associated with poor health and a higher risk of death. However, this is one way in which the body provides adequate energy to the brain, which requires some glucose for energy even during periods of prolonged starvation.
Including at least some carbohydrates in your diet is one way to prevent starvation-related loss of muscle mass. These carbs will reduce muscle breakdown and provide glucose as energy for the brain.
At MUNCH MEASURED MEALS we recommend carb-cycling your carbs around training days and sessions.
Consuming carbs before and after training sessions not only assists with muscle gain – it also protects and looks after your muscles when you are ingesting a calorie deficit to cut fat.
For very active people looking to gain muscle mass, we recommend at least 2g of carbs for every kg of lean mass. Muscle meals are ideal for this purpose.
For someone wanting to lose fat at a moderate pace but still slowly add muscle mass, we recommend at least 1g of carbs per kg of lean mass. Lean gains are ideal.
For those who want to rip down fast, we recommend consuming fewer than 50g of carbs per day. The super-shed range is tailored for this purpose.
The body uses fat as a fuel source, and fat is the major storage form of energy in the body. Fat also has many other important functions in the body, and a moderate amount is needed in the diet for good health. Fats in food come in several forms, including saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Too much fat or too much of the wrong type of fat can be unhealthy.
Some examples of foods that contain fats are butter, oil, nuts, meat, fish and some dairy products.
The cycle of making, breaking, storing and mobilising fats is at the core of how humans and all animals regulate their energy. An imbalance in any of these steps can result in disease, including heart disease and diabetes. For instance, having too many triglycerides in our bloodstream raises our risk of clogged arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Fats help the body stockpile certain nutrients as well. The so-called ‘fat-soluble’ vitamins – A, D, E and K – are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues.
There are different types of fats, with some fats being healthier than others. To help make sure you stay healthy, it is important to eat unsaturated fats in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.
When eaten in large amounts, all fats, including healthy fats, can contribute to weight gain. Fat is higher in energy (kilojoules) than any other nutrient, so eating less fat overall is likely to help with weight loss.
Eating less saturated and trans fats may help lower your risk of heart disease. When buying products, check the labels and choose the varieties that are lower in saturated and trans fats and higher in poly- and monounsaturated fats.
To sum up, a diet that is low in saturated fats and trans fats but that also includes moderate amounts of unsaturated fats will help you stay healthy.
Eating greater amounts of saturated fats is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol levels. These fats are usually solid at room temperature and are found in the foods listed below.
Dairy foods such as butter, cream, full-fat milk and cheese
Meat such as fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken (especially chicken skin) and processed meats like salami
Coconut milk and cream
Many manufactured and packaged foods:
Fatty snack foods such as potato chips and savoury crackers
Deep-fried and high-fat takeaway foods such as hot chips, pizzas and hamburgers
Cakes and high-fat muffins
Pastries and pies, including quiche, tarts, sausage rolls, pasties and croissants
Sweet and savoury biscuits
Unsaturated fats form an important part of a healthy diet. These fats help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels (among other health benefits) when they replace saturated fats in the diet.
There are two main types of unsaturated fats, namely polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Omega-3 fats, which are found in fish, especially oily fish
Omega-6 fats, which are found in some oils such as safflower and soybean oil, along with some nuts, including brazil nuts
Found in olive and canola oil, avocados and some nuts, such as cashews and almonds
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been processed and, as a result, behave like saturated fats. Eating trans fats increases one’s level of ‘bad’ cholesterol and decreases your level of ‘good’ cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to lower the amounts of trans fats you eat to help you stay healthy.
Trans fats are found in many packaged foods as well as in butter and some margarines.
It is better to replace saturated and trans fats with mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in food, but also in our blood. Cholesterol has many important functions in the body, but having high levels of the wrong type of cholesterol in the blood increases one’s risk of heart disease.
It was once thought that eating too many cholesterol-containing foods (such as eggs) was the major dietary cause of high blood cholesterol levels. But we now know that eating too many foods containing higher amounts of saturated and trans fats is a bigger problem and has a much greater influence on blood cholesterol levels.
AT MUNCH MEASURED MEALS we only use lean cuts of meat with all excess fat trimmed off. We do not add any oils or fats in any of our cooking processes, and we only use a minimal amount of olive oil in our sachet sauces.
We believe in a high-protein diet containing a moderate amount of carbs and minimal fats to achieve the body beauty you are looking for.
Supplementing your diet with krill, salmon and fish oils will provide your body with what it needs – and remember, you are going to be losing a lot of fat, so your body will take what it needs from your fat stores when it needs it.