Sunday, January 30, 2011

What I Ate, Day 7

2 cups coffee
1 banana
1 cup cooked Coach’s Oats
1 scoop protein powder
16 oz. sugar free vanilla almond milk
Carbohydrates:  87.5g   Protein:  58g       Fat:  17g

2 gingersnaps
Carbohydrates:  7g         Fat:  1g

1 can Trader Joe’s split pea soup
2 strips fake bacon
1 cup cottage cheese
1 tsp. honey
Carbohydrates:  42.5g   Protein:  40.5g   Fat:  8.5g

1 serving savory thin crackers
2/3 cup snap peas
2 tbsp. hummus
4 oz. fat free strawberry yogurt
Palm sized serving of almonds (about ¼ cup)
Carbohydrates:  57g       Protein:  19g       Fat:  22g

Trader Joe’s Mojito Salmon
½ cup brown rice
½ cup sweet potatoes
4 oz. glass red wine
Carbohydrates: 66g        Protein:  37g       Fat:  16g

How Did I Do?
Ballpark:               Carbohydrates:  263g     Protein:  175g    Fat:  39g
Actual:                  Carbohydrates:  260g     Protein:  154.5g Fat:  64.5g

What I Did:  After yesterday’s tough workout, I took an active rest day.  I spent the morning with friends and then came home and cleaned the garage.  My activity included lots of lifting.  Overall, my body feels nice and relaxed and well fed.  However, I am concerned that my fat intake was a little high and my protein was a little low.  I could have chosen another high protein snack to substitute for the almonds.  On a great note, look at those carbs!  Spot on!  I’m happy with what I ate today.

Tips!  As a mother of two, I look for the easiest way to get healthy food to my family.  I don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes toiling in the kitchen while the kids are running amok at 5 pm.  We eat frozen pizza at least once a week.  Sometimes we get a cheese pizza and add our own stuff and sometimes we get one that’s pre loaded.  We eat potatoes because we can throw them in the oven and let them bake while doing other things and we put whatever toppings on that we like.  My sister reminded me that hard boiled eggs are great snack foods for on-the-go, easy egg salad sandwiches, and toppers for salads.  You can make 12 at a time and they stay fresh for a long time in the fridge.  I make a lot of grains at a time.  I have a friend who doesn’t use baggies when she packs snacks.  She just brings the whole 12 or 16 oz. bag of veggies with her.  Smart.  These are all ways to save time and make healthful eating easier.  If you don’t have a taste for veggies, try eating them frozen out of the bag.  Mix it up!  Find what you like and go with it.  Eat steamed sweet potato spears and vanilla yogurt for snack.  The time is now to break all the rules.  Throw out the preconceived notions of what a healthy diet really is.  A healthy diet provides your body with the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to sustain normal functions and allows you to thrive.

Please note, I did not focus heavily on calories.  Focusing on calories only detracts from the goal of giving our bodies what they need.  Making sure I got enough carbohydrates, protein, and fat was more important than making sure I got 2100 calories.  I want the calories I eat to work hard for me!  I want those 2100 calories to come from the right places.

My hope this week was that I could show what a real diet looks like, in action.  That a healthy person eats a lot of food often, but for the most part, it’s good food.  It’s not complicated food or unusual food.  It’s familiar food from a grocery store, not necessarily a health food store.  I wanted to show that being vegetarian poses only minor limitations to dietary needs and that one can compensate with protein powders and soy-based substitutes.  I wanted to show that even busy moms can do it.  I wanted to show that everybody can do it.

Thank you for all of your comments this week, your questions, and for writing, “It’s inspiring.”  Honestly, it’s been fuel for my soul.  Thank you.  If you ever have questions, please email me at natskedat at gmail dot com.

What I Ate, Day 6

1 cup coffee
1 cup coffee with unsweetened almond milk
2 eggs + 1 egg white on toast
½ cup blueberries
Carbohydrates:                56g         Protein:  35g       Fat:  18g

Clif Bar – Cool Mint Chocolate
Carbohydrates: 43g        Protein:  10g       Fat:  5g

During Workout
Carbohydrates: 16g        Protein:  4g

1 cup cottage cheese
1 apple
¼ cup leftover spaghetti carbonara
½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich
1 stick string cheese
Carbohydrates:  85g       Protein:  45g       Fat:  17.5

Trader Joe’s vegetable lasagna (single serving)
2 servings fake beef
6 oz. red wine
1 cup Breyer’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream
Carbohydrates:  99g       Protein:  57g       Fat:  25g

How Did I Do?
Ballpark:              Carbohydrates:  263g     Protein:  175g    Fat: 39g
Actual:                  Carbohydrates:  299g     Protein:  151g    Fat:  65.5g

What I Did:  I swam a half-mile at the gym and then rode the stationary bike about 10 miles.  Combined, I did about 50 minutes of cardio work.  Eating a snack high in complex carbohydrates about 30 minutes to my workout gave my muscles the energy to avoid fatigue.  I had such a great workout, and in all, such a great day, that I splurged on a double serving of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  Completely worth it!

Tips:  30-45 minutes before you work out, drink about 16 ounces of water and a carbohydrate snack with a little protein.  Drink plenty of fluids while you’re working out, as well.  Within about 30 minutes of completing your workout, drink another 16 oz. of water and have a carbohydrate + protein snack.  Feed your muscles before your workout so that you have enough energy.  When you’re done, replacing what your muscles lost will aid in recovery and help maintain high energy levels throughout your day.  Tough workout days are not the days to cut calories, either.  You’re not going to get extra benefits of burning calories by denying your body what it needs to thrive.  Feed your muscles what they need and you will feel the rewards!

Note:  A friend asked me yesterday if I measure out everything.  NO!  I eyeball everything.  If I eat about ¼ of a 16 oz. bag of carrots, I estimate that I ate about 4 ounces.  I can then look at the nutrition label and base the nutrition information based on the serving size.  If the serving size for the carrots is based on a 2 oz. serving, I know all of the fat, carbohydrates, and protein should be doubled.  For instance, the nutrition information on my peanut butter is this:

Serving size:  2 tbsp
Fat:  15g
Total Carb.:  7g
Protein:  9g

However, my typical serving size is about 1 tbsp, so I cut all those numbers in half:

My serving size: 1 tbsp
Fat:  7.5g
Total Carb.:  3.5g
Protein:  4.5g

I strongly emphasize knowing your typical serving size, and then comparing your serving size to the serving size the nutritional information is based upon.  This is an important piece of self-knowledge.  This information should not make you feel bad, nor should you feel like you’ve somehow failed because you like a really peanut buttery sandwich.  It’s good to know.  When you are looking for areas to increase or decrease your carbohydrates, protein, or fat, this is the information you’ll need to make educated, reasonable nutritional choices.  Remember, there isn’t any one item that makes or breaks your diet.  Your healthy diet is a combination of all your choices.

Again, if you have any questions, please leave comments or email me at natskedat at gmail dot com.

Have a great day, and eat well!

Friday, January 28, 2011

What I Ate, Day 5

2 cups coffee
4 oz. fat free strawberry yogurt
½ sliced banana
1 cup Coach’s Oats, cooked
1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. protein powder
½ cup vanilla almond milk
Carbohydrates:  101g     Protein:                  45.5g   Fat:  17.5g

4 oz. carrots
1 serving multigrain crackers
1 stick string cheese
Carbohydrates:  23.5g   Protein:                  8g         Fat:  12g

Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread
(1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp jelly, 2 slices bread)
2 oz. carrots
1 cup sugar snap peas
Fat free Greek-style honey flavored yogurt
Carbohydrates:  80.5g   Protein:                  27.5g  Fat:  12g

Blueberry protein shake
¼ cup cottage cheese
Carbohydrates:  9g         Protein:                  17.5g  Fat:  6g

1 cup steamed broccoli w/ red wine vinegar
Carbohydrates:  14g       Protein:                  3g         Fat:  0g

1 cup farfalle pasta w/ ¼ cup Vodka sauce
6 meatless meatballs
1 cup steamed broccoli
Carbohydrates:  59g       Protein:                27.5g    Fat:  10g

Hot chocolate with marshmallows
Carbohydrates:  38g       Protein:  2g

How Did I Do? 
Ballpark:               Carbohydrates: 263g       Protein:                175g      Fat:  39g
Actual:                  Carbohydrates: 301g       Protein:                131g      Fat:  57.5g

What I did:  I ate well today.  I packed a lot of healthy food for an extended day at the park, and since today was a rest day, I gave my body a much needed rest after four active workout days.  Overall, I think my diet was fairly well balanced.  Extrapolating my total caloric intake from these grams ({total carbohydrates x 4 cal/gram} + {total protein x 4 cal/gram} + {total fat x 9 cal/gram} = total calories), we can see that my total caloric intake was 2245.5 calories, a mere 145.5 calories over my ballpark.  Not bad!   

Tips!  Have you noticed that I haven’t eaten one salad?  Just about every diet I’ve investigated has at least one meal that includes mixed greens and grilled chicken or fish.  I’m not saying that a grilled chicken salad is not a great meal, but a healthy diet does not necessarily include that.  Personally, I am not satisfied with a salad as a meal.  My diet is mine.  Your diet is yours.  Make it yours and make it work.  If you can’t live without dark chocolate at 4 pm, you shouldn’t have to, nor should you feel guilty about it.  Your diet needs to sustain you physically and emotionally, and guilt is a horrible dinner date.  There is no one magic bullet that will make your diet great, nor is there one single item that will lead to a poor diet.  Your diet is a combination of small choices that hopefully add up to a healthy whole. That healthy whole provides you with the nutrients you need to not only survive, but thrive.  

Please ask questions when have them in comments, or email me (natskedat at gmail dot com).

Have a great day, and eat well!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What I Ate, Day 4

2 cups coffee
1 egg + 1 egg white on toast
¼ c. blueberries
½ sliced banana
6 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt
Carbohydrates:  87g       Protein:  50g      Fat:  12.5g

1 c. sugar snap peas
1 apple
1 stick string cheese
Carbohydrates:  33.5g   Protein: 11g       Fat:  6g

1 serving of leftover dinner from last night
(1 cup brown rice, 1 cup potato and garbanzo beans in Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce)
Carbohydrates:  94g       Protein: 13g       Fat:  4g

Blueberry vanilla protein smoothie (recipe included)
Carbohydrates:  7g         Protein: 10.5g   Fat:  5g

Berry Vanilla Protein Shake
1-11oz carton Muscle Milk protein drink (chocolate or vanilla)
¼-½  c. frozen berries and/or banana
1 cup ice

Throw it all in the blender for about a minute.  Enjoy!  Serves 2.
Carbohydrates: 7g          Protein:  10.5-11.5g         Fat:  5g

1 c. low-fat cottage cheese
Carbohydrates:  0g         Protein:  28g       Fat:  4g

2 Trader Joe’s mahi-mahi burger patties hashed with rice, bell pepper, and tomato
2 tsp. jalapeno dill tartar sauce
1 serving Sea Salt and Pepper crisps
Carbohydrates: 63.5g   Protein:  39g       Fat:  15g

Fresh n’ Easy French Vanilla pudding
8 oz. milk with 1 scoop protein powder
Carbohydrates:  33g       Protein:  42g      Fat:  7g

How Did I Do?
Ballpark:              Carbohydrates: 265g       Protein:                 175g         Fat:  39g
Actual:                 Carbohydrates: 318g       Protein:                 193.5g      Fat:  53.5g

What I Did:  Power walking and resistance training with Stroller Fitness for 1 hour.  I felt great all day, with my arms only slightly sore after yesterday’s challenging weight workout.  Did I run up and down the stairs 100 times today, because it sure felt like it!  My kids’ energy levels seem to have skyrocketed in the last month, and I think all I do is run around.  Moms, in case you’re wondering, the activity you engage in when taking care of your kids (lifting, pulling, picking up, getting up, strapping in, etc.) needs to get factored in to your activity level.  If you are up with your kids, you are not leading a sedentary lifestyle, and your calorie intake should reflect that.  Motherhood is an endurance sport!  Given yesterday’s and today’s workouts, I’m not surprised that I was hungrier (I ate 7 times!).  I was more active than usual and I needed to eat more.  My actual diet was a fairly well-balanced 2500 calorie diet.

Tips!  Whenever I cook grains, I cook a LOT!  I usually cook 6-8 servings of oatmeal or rice at a time.  I save the rest.  Having oatmeal ready makes breakfast a snap.  Everybody can dress theirs up with bananas, brown sugar, almond milk, or honey and just pop the bowl in the microwave.  Pre-made brown rice saves about 40 minutes of cooking time so you can make stir fry (remember those bags of pre-cut veggies?), Indian food (remember the simmer sauce?), or burritos in about 15 minutes.  The part I love best?  Only one pot to clean!  My point?  Healthy eating need not be complicated!

What I Ate: Day 3

What I Ate:  Day 3
2 cups of coffee
4 oz. cup of Trader Joe’s nonfat strawberry probiotic yogurt
1 egg, over easy + 1 egg white over toast
½ sliced banana
¼ cup blueberries
Carbohydrates:  82g       Protein:                  37g       Fat:  11g

Clif Kidz bar – Chocolate Chip
1 c. sugar snap peas
Carbohydrates:  34g         Protein:  5g       Fat:  4g

My Favorite Tuna Sandwich in ½ whole wheat pita
¼ cup shelled edamame
1 ½ c. leftover steamed vegetables (from last night)
Fresh n’ Easy tapioca pudding
Carbohydrates:  55.5g   Protein:                  41g       Fat:  9.5g

1 c. low-fat cottage cheese
½ apple
Carbohydrates:  19g       Protein:                  28.5g   Fat:  2g

1 oz. sweet yellow corn
1 c. steamed brown rice
1 c. potato and garbanzo beans in Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
6 oz. red wine
Hot chocolate + 1 tbsp. protein powder, with marshmallows
Carbohydrates:  154g     Protein:                  24g       Fat:  7.5g

How did I do?
                Ideal:     Carbohydrates:   263g     Protein:  175g    Fat:  39g
                Actual:  Carbohydrates:   344.5g Protein:  135.5g Fat:  34g

Activity level:  I had a tough day today.  I had a horrible night’s sleep.  I woke up at around 2 am with the cat sleeping on my feet, again at 3 am because I was cold, and then at 4:45 am because Alexandria needed some help going to the bathroom.  I wake up at 5:15 every morning, so this was especially brutal.  I was tired.  Sometimes when I work out, I perk up.  The beach was too windy for Stroller Fitness, so I headed to the gym.  I did about 25 minutes of cardio work (interrupted by a diaper change) followed by 45 minutes of weight lifting and abdominal work.  I got hungry halfway through my weightlifting set and replenished my depleted glycogen stores with the Clif bar.  I ate the snap peas on the way home.  Now, take a look at my dinner.  Around 5:30 pm, my lack of sleep caught up with me.  What do you want when you’re tired?  Energy.  Carbohydrates are energy.   Look at the carbohydrate load in my dinner.  HUGE!  It’s not surprising that I wanted hot chocolate with marshmallows, too.  I was really tired, but it was too early for bed.  This is why adequate sleep is so important.  Without adequate sleep, we compensate for our lack of energy by taking in more carbohydrates than our bodies really need.  Note also that I did a big workout on a tired day.  That also added to my desire for carbohydrates.

Because I lifted weights, I needed to get enough protein.  I did not.  That means my body was not adequately supplied to rebuild the muscle I worked so hard to earn.  I could have consumed a protein shake to get enough.

I came in pretty close on fat, which is great!

These are just notes.  I don’t judge myself or beat myself up.  I had a good day given my limitations.  I will try to have a great sleep tonight.  I’ll try to be asleep by 10.  I know I can have a more balanced day when I get enough sleep.

Tips!  I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit.  I do almost no prep work.  I buy the pre-cut carrots, bags of sugar snap peas, snow peas, assorted vegetables, and sometimes apples.  I always have some kind of berry in the fridge.  I steam the veggies directly in the bag.  In three minutes, I’ve got my veggie side dish.  Healthful eating does not need to be time consuming.  It takes just the same amount of to open a bag of carrots as it does to open a bag of chips.

Also, I don’t write it in, but I drink water with every meal, and in between meals.  Water is so important!  If you don’t like the taste of water, throw in a flavor packet.  Companies like Crystal Light have calorie-free flavor packets that might be worth a try.

Have a great day, and eat well!

P.S.  In case any of you are interested in the nutritional value of foods you eat while at restaurants or of raw foods without a label, try this site.  I had great luck finding every item I was looking for.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What I Ate: Day 2

2 cups coffee
1 ½ cups cooked Coach’s Oats
1 tbsp. vanilla protein powder
½ sliced banana
½ cup blackberries
Carbohydrates:                104.5g   Protein:                  39.5g   Fat:  12g

Clif Bar – Cool Mint Chocolate
Carbohydrates:                43g         Protein:                  10g       Fat:  5g

My Favorite Tuna Sandwich (recipe included!)
Trader Joe’s Sea Salt and Pepper chips
¼ cup blueberries
6 oz. vanilla almond milk
Carbohydrates: 64g        Protein:                  31.5g   Fat:  10g

Recipe for My Favorite Tuna Sandwich
1 can albacore packed in water, drained
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. dill pickle relish
1 tsp. horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices whole wheat bread

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until the tuna is coated evenly.  Add more mustard, relish, and horseradish to taste.  Drop a huge dollop between two slices of (toasted?) whole wheat bread and enjoy.  Serves 2
Carbohydrates:                  30g       Protein:  28.5g   Fat:  4.5g

Small cup of candied almonds at Fresh ‘n Easy’s sample table.  Who could resist?
Carbohydrates:  10g       Protein:                  3g         Fat:7g

2 fish sticks that Alexandria didn’t want
2 slices Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Cheese pizza (with added mozzarella and fake beef strips)
1 cup steamed broccoli, carrots, and snow peas
Carbohydrates:  61g       Protein:                  47g       Fat:  16g

How did I do today?
Total  Carbohydrates:  312.5g     Total Protein:  159.5g     Total Fat:  54.5g

I exceeded my recommended carbohydrates and fat intake, while coming a bit under on my recommended protein.  If I’m shooting for “ballpark” numbers, I’ll consider this fairly close.  Because I didn’t have an extra strenuous day, my muscles don’t require as much protein for repair.  I felt really good all day.  My energy level felt consistent throughout the day because I ate healthful snacks between meals.  I kept my blood sugar regulated throughout the day, preventing the “crash” that inevitably leads to an unhealthy energy boost from a soda or sugary snack.  We’ll talk more about simple versus complex carbohydrates later.  However, if you have any questions, please email me (natskedat at gmail dot com) or leave a comment.

Have a great day, and eat well!

What I Did:  Walked ¾ mile for Stroller Fitness with light cardio and plyometrics.  Relatively easy day.

What I Ate: Day 1

After a ridiculously intense post like this morning’s, let’s finish off the night with a practical application of what we’ve learned.
We’ll use me as an example.
My Stats
Weight:                 137
Body Fat:             22%

Let’s calculate my BMR based on the steps from the earlier post:

Step 1:  137 lbs/2.2 = 62 kg

Step 2:   Based on the equation in from the earlier page, the equation for me is 62 x 0.9 x 24 = 1339 calories.

Step 3:  I found my lean factor from the table in Step 3.  My lean factor is 0.95, so,
Step 4:  1339 calories x 0.95 = 1272 calories

So, if I got to lie around and live out my Dream Day, I'd have a "The Thomas Crown Affair" and "Amelie" movie marathon and burn 1272 calories.  However, since two small people don't let me do that, I’ve got a little more math to do if I want to figure out my actual daily caloric expenditure.

Step 5:  After examining my daily activities (Stroller Fitness or working out at the gym, playing with kids, housework), I’ve determined that my activity factor is 1.65.  So,

Step 6:  1272 calories x 1.65 = 2099 calories

There we go.  My daily caloric requirement is about 2100 calories.  However, that number makes no sense if I don’t put it in the context of macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and protein) in food.

Remember the optimum proportion of fats, protein, and carbohydrates is:

1/6 of calories from fat
2/6 of calories from protein
3/6 of calories from carbohydrates

Let’s figure out where my calories should be coming from:

2100 calories/6 = 350 calories
Fat:  350 calories x 1 = 350 calories from fat
Protein:  350 calories x 2 = 700 calories from protein
Carbohydrates:  350 x 3 = 1050 calories from carbohydrates

Finally, let’s figure out how many grams of each macronutrient I need, based on the following information:

1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories

Fat:  350 calories of fat/9 calories = 39 grams
Protein:  700 calories of protein/4 calories = 175 grams
Carbohydrates:  1050 calories of carbohydrates/4 calories = 263 grams

To sum up this first part, my body requires about 2100 calories a day to do what I do.  I need 39 grams of fat, 175 grams of protein, and 263 grams of carbohydrates to fuel my body.

When I woke up, the scale told me:
I weigh 137 pounds
I have 22% body fat

Here's a note on my diet.  I'm vegetarian and I try to maintain a healthful diet.  I don't usually shop at specialty grocery stores.  Nearly everything I eat can be found at large chain stores.  I try to get creative with my protein sources.  I eat tofu (but not the mushy white blocks).  I usually buy baked, marinated tofu so it's firm (like chicken) and flavorful.  Please bear in mind, if you don't like the idea of tofu, each time you see a soy or tofu product, adapt to your taste with a baked or grilled chicken breast, sliced turkey, tuna, or lean steak.  I do splurge.  But a splurge is a splurge, not a regular occurance.  My weaknesses are ice cream and creme brulee.  And brownies.  Heaven.  I also love chocolate chip cookies.  I'll throw those in the mix every once in a while.  On the whole, I eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lowfat dairy, and lean proteins (especially fish!). 

That said, here’s what I ate today:

2 cups of coffee (2 tsp. sugar, 8 oz. milk)
1 cup (cooked) “Coach’s Oats” with ½ sliced banana, 1 tbsp. protein powder, and ½ c. almond milk.
¼ cup blackberries
22 oz. water
Carbohydrates:   87g      Protein: 36.5g                  Fat: 10g

¾ cup sugar snap peas
2 oz bag of baby carrots
16 oz. water
Carbohydrates: 8g        Protein: 3g         Fat:   0g

1 slice Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern flatbread with 2 tbsp. hummus and 1 block of sliced teriyaki flavored tofu (all warmed in the toaster!)
½ cup blueberries
1 c. low-fat cottage cheese w/ 1 tsp. honey
22 oz. water
Carbohydrates:  69g       Protein:   48g      Fat:  11g

½ apple
1.5 oz cubed jack cheese
1 serving Trader Joe’s Multigrain crackers
16 oz. glass of milk
Carbohydrates:   54g      Protein:   34g      Fat:  25g

Teriyaki marinated yellow fin tuna steak (8 oz)
1 cup white rice
1 red bell pepper
1 glass of red wine
Carbohydrates:  93g       Protein:  72g       Fat:  13g

Pre-bed Snack
8 oz. glass vanilla almond milk
Carbohydrates:  16g       Protein:  1g         Fat:  2.5g

How did I do?  Did I stay in the ballpark of my goal?

                                                Ballpark                                Actual
Carbohydrates                          263 g                                    327 g
Protein                                      175 g                                   194.5 g
Fat                                            39 g                                      61.5 g

Clearly, I exceeded all categories!  The cheese was fatty.  The white rice and the glass of wine were all carbs.  The yellow fin was 2 1/2 times a typical serving size, adding approximately 40g of protein.  As promised, I’m on good, but not my best, behavior.  But, I’m not going to fret.  I’m going to continue to make minor modifications to demonstrate the difference that small changes make.

Activity:  I walked briskly for about 2 miles while doing light resistance training and increased cardio work at the Stroller Fitness class I lead.  Around 5 o' clock, the kidlets and I had Dance Party, USA! upstairs and we danced club-style for about 30 minutes.  We were a little sweaty.

Have a great day, and eat well!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Optimizing Your Fuel Intake

How much food do you need to eat every day?
While the question might sound simple, evidence from last week’s article demonstrates that most Americans don’t have the answer.  On the whole, we eat too much.  Too many of our calories come from the wrong places and because we’re not exercising, they get stored as fat.  We’re eating ourselves to death.
This article is going to be a bit math heavy, but I’ll do my best to make it easy and accessible.  The information within this article is going to be the basis on which you’ll build your entire nutritional intake.  These are important numbers you’re going to discover.
First, you’ve got to do a little homework.  It’s really important.  You need to find out your body fat percentage.  If you belong to a gym, one of the personal trainers at your gym can help you obtain this number.  If you are not, many digital bathroom scales are equipped with technology that can instantly determine this value.  You’ll need to program your age and height into the scale.  The whole process takes about 1 minute.  Ask a friend if you can borrow theirs, or go to a department store like Sears and “test” some out.  It’s worthwhile to obtain this information.  Go do it.  I’ll wait.
Now that you’ve figured out your body fat percentage, you’re on your way!  Do not be alarmed by the number if it’s larger than you expected.  It’s just a number.  It’s one piece of a puzzle that creates an overall picture of you.
OK, we’re ready.  The first thing we’re going to do is calculate your Base Metabolic Rate, or BMR.  This number represents the number of calories your body would consume if you decided lay around for 24 hours and do nothing.  I mean nothing.  It’s math heavy, but just bear with me.
Step 1: Convert your bodyweight into kilograms using the following formula:
Bodyweight (in pounds)/2.2 = bodyweight (in kg)
Step 2: Calculate the following equation using your weight in kilograms:
                                Men:                     1.0 x bodyweight (kg) x 24
Women:              0.9 x bodyweight (kg) x 24

Step 3:  Determine your lean factor multiplier based on your body fat percentage.

                Lean factor         Body fat percentage       Multiplier
Men:                     1                              10-14                     1.0
                                2                              14-20                     .95
                                3                              20-28                     .90
                                4                              over 28                 .85

Women:              1                              14-18                     1.0
                                2                              18-28                     .95
                                3                              28-38                     .90
                                4                              over 38                 .85
Step 4:  Multiply the number obtained in Step 2 by the lean factor multiplier to determine your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Step 5:  You’re almost there!  Now, determine your daily activity multiplier.  This number is a factor based on the amount of physical activity you do every day.

                Couch Potato Range
1.30 – Very light: Sitting, studying, talking, little walking or other activities throughout the day.
1.55 – Light: Typing, teaching, lab/shop work, some walking throughout the day
Fitness Buff Range
1.65 – Moderate: Walking, jogging, gardening type job with activities such as cycling, tennis, dancing, skiing, or weight training 1-2 hours per day.
Athlete or Hard Daily Trainer Range
1.80 – Heavy: Heavy manual labor such as digging, tree felling, climbing, with activities such as football, soccer or body building 2-4 hours per day.
2.00 – Very Heavy: A combination of moderate and heavy activity for 8 or more hours per day, plus 2-4 hours of intense training per day

Step 6: Multiply your BMR by your appropriate daily activity multiplier.  This number is your daily caloric expenditure.

BMR x daily activity multiplier = daily caloric expenditure

Good job!  That’s the hardest part, but it’s the most important piece of information you need to build nutritional program based on you and what you need every day.
Before we move on, take a look at this number.  This number is equivalent to filling up your car at a gas station.  Let’s say you have a 13 gallon tank.  If you wanted to increase your fuel efficiency, would you simply fill your car up with 10 gallons of gas and expect to go the same distance as you’d go with a full tank?  That’s ridiculous, right?  Well, consider diets that cut calories.  To increase fuel efficiency of your car, you’d make sure you were using the best grade of fuel, change your oil, and make sure your car’s maintenance was up-to-date.  Based on what you now know about yourself, simply cutting calories means that you’re eliminating the fuel your body needs to “go the distance” every day.  To increase your body’s efficiency at using calories, you’re going to learn how to give yourself the best fuel every day.
OK, a bit more math, and you are DONE!
Take your daily caloric expenditure and divide it by six.
1/6th of your calories should come from fat.
2/6th of your calories should come from protein.
3/6th of your calories should come from carbohydrates.

For example, let’s take someone whose daily caloric expenditure is 2500 calories.  Here’s how his nutritional requirements break down:
2500 calories/6 = 417 calories
417 calories x 1 = 417 calories should come from fat
417 calories x 2 = 833 calories should come from protein
417 calories x 3 = 1250 calories should come from carbohydrates

That’s it.  Pretty simple, right?

The last bits of information you’ll need to continue today’s journey to best health is the number of calories in one gram of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories

So let’s convert our caloric requirements into grams (the number you’ll see on a nutritional label).
417 calories from fat/9 calories = 46 grams of fat per day
833 calories from protein/4 calories = 208 grams of protein per day
1250 calories from carbohydrates/4 calories = 313 grams of carbohydrates per day

So there you go.  Now you’ve laid the groundwork for your daily fuel intake.  These numbers are ballpark figures.  This week, take a look at nutritional labels.  Don’t get obsessed!!!  Try your best to simply be aware of what you’re putting in your body.  You don’t have a thing to rebel against.  If it helps, try to emotionally detach yourself from your fuel in the same way you’re detached from what you put in your car.  Try to get enough of the right stuff.  Calorie charts abound on the internet.  Find one that you like.  Maybe print it out and put it on the fridge.  I’d recommend tracking what you eat for a week, or even a couple of days.  Explore your habits.
I’ve probably exhausted you, so I’ll give it a rest.  Next week, we’ll talk about the best times to eat.  Again, I’ll be posting every night my daily food and activity.  Tonight I’ll also post ALL of my stats, show how many calories I need every day, and in what proportions I need them.  We can all do this together.  Honestly, this is really the hardest part.  Once you do this, you’ve taken a monsterous step in taking control of achieving your best health.
If you have any questions, PLEASE leave a comment or email me at natskedat at gmail dot com.  I will be more than happy to help!  My goal in all of this is to you the tools to achieve your best.
Have a great week!

Hatfield, Fredrick C. Fitness: The Complete Guide. International Sports Sciences Association.  Carpinteria, CA. p.498