HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT???? The burning question that has been plaguing women since the beginning of time. I’m going to bet that you have asked yourself this question at some point along your weight loss journey. It’s a pretty basic, yet extremely loaded question that I get asked probably 100 times a week. It seems fair enough to ask it and to get an answer. And yet, here we are, still asking the same question.
Some of you are just like me. You’ve been dieting for 30 or 40-plus years and we’re still asking:
- “How much should I eat?”
- “How many calories do I burn?”
- “What diet plan should I stick to?”
It’s the burning question that every woman wants to know. So let’s break it down together.
To answer this question, we have to take a couple of things into consideration.
The big one is metabolism. In some ways, we don’t necessarily know how it’s performing, but we could probably guess. There are ways for us to gauge where your metabolism is and how you can improve it.
The reason I bring up metabolism as a really important consideration is that when we try to figure out how many calories a day we need to burn, there are many calculators available online to help. You just plug in your information likr height, weight, age, and activity level. I like these calculators because I think it gives us a place to start.
The interesting part about these calculators is that there’s a lot of X factors so to speak. For example, if I had 10 women who are all 49 years old, 5’5’, weighing 150 pounds, moderately active, and had a body fat percentage of 26%, all 10 of these women who appear to have the same numbers are going to have very different metabolic rates.
There are a lot of X factors when you look at somebody’s metabolism:
All of these things are going to add up into having a different metabolism. Your body fat-to-muscle ratio is a big part of that. Most of us don’t necessarily know what our body fat percentage is, and that is okay. You don’t need to know your body fat percentage in order to work on your weight loss. In order to have the best metabolism you can have. There are some things to keep in mind.
If you’re a female, and especially if you’re over 40, you want to make sure you have a strength training routine. It doesn’t have to be hours in a gym! In fact, you could strength train 20 minutes, 3 times a week, and get the results that you need in order to maintain, and possibly, build muscle.
Muscle is like an insurance policy on a long life. It’s the ability to be able to stand up and pick yourself up off the floor. It is going to keep you from wasting away. It also helps you burn more calories, and it looks really good. A body that has muscle actually will look smaller than a body that has less muscle at the same weight.
You have to stop doing crazy ass diets where you eat too little. When you’re in too great of a deficit, the weight that you do lose is muscle mass. That’s a big problem. It’s hard to build muscle.
I think we have this idea that if we lift weights then we will get bulky. The idea is that we put on muscle so quickly, and that makes the scale go up. The truth of the matter is, you don’t build muscle that quickly. Even a man on steroids isn’t putting on 10-20 pounds of muscle in a year. As a woman, if you could put on 3 pounds of muscle in a year, you’re killing it!
The goal is to lose body fat.
No matter how good the diet is, no matter how appropriate and balanced it is, there is going to be some muscle loss. We don’t want to be at 900 calories or even 1200 calories for days on end. That’s the recipe for losing muscle mass.
Losing muscle mass is the number one thing you’re going to see that sets back your metabolism. It means that overall your whole body is responding to the lack of calories. Your hormones are resetting and your thyroid is slowing down because the signal it’s getting is starvation. We can’t keep burning at a high rate if we don’t have enough fuel coming in.
As human beings, our bodies are not designed to diet.
Our brain’s goal is to stay alive and to actually hold on to as much body fat as possible because that’s an insurance policy against famine. When we go to lose body fat, we try these extreme diets and workout programs. We’re really putting pressure on our bodies. We start to see that weight loss backfires. Weight loss slows down and we start to lose muscle mass. Then every time we lose and gain weight we see that it is harder.
Our bodies aren’t going to be able to lose weight the same way we did at 20 or 30 or 40. It is because our metabolism is not the same. We want to do everything that we can to make sure that we are like a healthy muscle-cranking machine.
How can you do that?
- Prioritize weight training
- Eat enough
- Have protein at every meal
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink plenty of water
- Supplement with a multivitamin, vitamin d3, fish oil, and magnesium
These are things to do for your general health that also help your stress levels and your hormones. Everything’s connected. Everything! Your body is constantly assessing what is happening to us. What is happening around us? Is there anything that we need to be aware of?
It is not uncommon that you are having other things happen with your hormones.
We could be having an issue with our thyroid, or with our sex hormones because we’re in perimenopause or menopause. So when we then throw ourselves into these really restrictive diets, it’s like throwing gas on the fire, and not in a good way. What we’re burning is a lot of muscle and the potential to lose body fat. We create a scenario where it is easy to gain more body fat back on the other end.
My philosophy for weight loss is to be able to eat as much as you can and lose weight. Do not eat as little as you can and lose weight. Even if it’s slow, I’m still going to give my body enough fuel to keep my metabolism going and to lose body fat. That’s the goal!
How much should I eat, or how many calories do I burn?
One of the things in weight loss math that is interesting is the idea that everything is so absolute. It’s not! There’s this idea that if I take away 500 calories from what I eat, then I exercise and I burn 500 calories, which is a 1000-calorie deficit. So seven days times 1000 is 7000 calories burned. What would that be equal to pounds?
It’s 3500 calories to a pound, I got to 7000. That’s two pounds. I should lose two pounds every week by that simple formula. On paper, it looks great, but there are a lot of flaws. It’s not as simple as that. We don’t necessarily know exactly how many calories we burn in a day.
I just want to put it out there that as much as we want weight loss, some of the math is a little loosey-goosey.
I would rather us work on creating the right environment for fat loss. That means having a kick-ass metabolism, and then we’re going to track what we’re eating. If you don’t know how much you’re eating, then it is time that we try to track that because we can evaluate that and see what works for us.
Two ways you could start to track now
- On your phone, download an app. There are many to choose from. Find one that works for you.
- The old-fashioned way…keep a notebook. For the next 14 days or 30 days, write down everything you eat, and anything you drink that has calories. It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed, but some details will help. You don’t need to know that you ate a cup of asparagus or how much your steak weighed but you could write down that you ate half a doughnut or whatever.
If you don’t know what you are consuming, then you really can’t lose weight. This is an easy way to get started. This is all a process. I can tell you, as somebody who not only has been dieting for over 40 years but also as somebody who has helped 1000s of other people, I am still working on it. We’re all still working on it!
NOTES IN ANCHOR
HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT???? The burning question that has been plaguing women since the beginning of time. I’m going to bet that you have asked yourself this question at some point along your weight loss journey. It’s a pretty basic, yet extremely loaded question that I get asked probably 100 times a week. It seems fair enough to ask it and to get an answer. And yet, here we are, still asking the same question. Some of you are just like me. You’ve been dieting for 30 or 40-plus years and we’re still asking:
“How much should I eat?”
“How many calories do I burn?”
“What diet plan should I stick to?”
It’s the burning question that every woman wants to know. So, let’s break it down together.
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on. Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience.
Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you unf*ck your diet brain.
She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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