Basics of Creating your Customized Nutrition Plan
General Nutrition • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
We will now learn how to use Quantified Nutrition to create our Customized Diet Plan. For this you need to understand a little science behind why we gain weight. The science involves understanding some terms which are important for you to create your own Diet Plan. Below we introduce you to the Basic terms through an excerpt from a book ‘Lose Fat, Get FITTR’ authored by FITTR Founder that introduces these terms very beautifully.
At the end of this article, you will find links where you can use the knowledge you have gained to start creating your own plan.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you think that people take better care of their cars than their own bodies? Not only that, they even seem to have a better understanding of how a car works than the inner mechanism of their own bodies.
What most people don’t seem to understand, however, is that if your car breaks down or stops working, you can always get it repaired or replace it with a new one. But you can’t do that with your body: this body is the only one you have and ever will have, you can’t cast it aside and upgrade to a newer model.
Think of your body as a car. Just like your car needs fuel to run, so does your body. Now, if you have fuel in your car but the battery is dead, will the car run? No. In the same way, in our bodies too there is a mechanism to convert the food we eat to energy. That mechanism is your metabolism.
How much energy do I need every day?
Every organism has metabolism (or a set of chemical reactions) that keeps it alive and enables its organs to function and grow. Like a car, the human body has exceptionally efficient systems for utilizing energy, something that even German engineering technology could not have created.
At different points of time and depending on the level of activity you are performing, the body needs a differential amount of energy to keep it running smoothly.
Let’s say, you’re home on a Saturday. Your spouse and children have gone out, so you’re all alone at home. You decide it’s a good time to catch up on some Netflix. So, you lie down on the sofa, put your feet up and before long, you’ve dozed off.
Suddenly, you get a call from your spouse—their parents are coming over for dinner. You need to hop over to the supermarket and get some stuff. Groaning to yourself, you stand up, put on your shoes and rush out of the door. The supermarket is just around the corner, so you decide to walk there instead of taking the car.
In each case—lying still, standing up, walking—your body is using energy, but the rate at which energy is being utilized differs every time. When you’re lying down and doing absolutely nothing, you’re still doing a lot of things.
Confused? Even though you don’t know it, your body is ticking away like clockwork. Your lungs are drawing in air, your heart is pumping blood, and your brain is still functioning. All these things keep you alive and the energy needed to run all these essential functions, even when your body is in a state of rest, is known as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
It’s evident that when you start walking, you will use energy at a rate higher than your BMR—the more intense the activity, the greater the amount of energy being utilized to fuel that activity.
When you consider all the physical activities you do throughout the day and add up the differential energy needed for them, this is your NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Simply put, this is the total energy that your body expends on physical activities that aren’t exercise-related.
There is a third concept that you need to know about, the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). When you consume food, your body needs to utilize a certain amount of energy for digesting or metabolizing that food. This is TEF.
If we were to take a rough average of how our bodies utilize energy, BMR is 70 per cent of all energy used, followed by physical activities, which use 20-25 per cent of energy, followed by TEF at about 10 per cent. The sum of all these will give you your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (or TDEE).
Simply put, TDEE = BMR + NEAT + TEF
Your energy expenditure is expressed in Calories.
For cars, fuel provides the energy to make them run. But can you fill diesel in a petrol car and expect it to work? Of course not! Cars, in general, are built to derive energy from only one type of fuel (unless they’re hybrid).
The human body, on the other hand, has multiple sources of energy. This energy comes from the food you eat. Different foods provide different amounts of energy to your body, which is measured in ‘calories’. We will go into the details of the essential food groups (i.e. Carbohydrate, Protein and Fats) in the next article, but for now, this is what you need to know:
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
For example, consider a person adding 1 tablespoon of Sugar in their tea /coffee, where 1tbsp is about 15g in weight. 15g of Sugar has 0g Protein, 15g Carbohydrates and 0g Fats. To know how many calories cmoe from 1tbsp of Sugar, we have to multiple the quantity with calories per gram of the respective food group.
This comes to 60calories (viz, 0gms Proteins x 4cal/gm + 15gms Carbohydrates x 4cal/gm + 0gms Fats x 9cal/gm).
Why should I care about Calories and Metabolism?!
Now, we’re getting to the main stuff. Hold on to your hats!
We live in a time when we don’t have to worry about our next meal, but that wasn’t always the case. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived a nomadic existence. Food was scarce and not always available when they needed it. So, our bodies had to develop systems that were energy efficient.
The human body likes to maintain a balance between the energy it receives and the energy it uses (termed energy homeostasis). In other words, in an ideal situation:
Energy received from food = Energy utilized for all activities
Calories in = Calories out
But, this doesn’t always happen.
Why do we get fat?
Your parents-in-law come home for dinner and bring along some sweets. You sit down to a hearty meal and have some sweet as well. You usually only have one piece, but tonight, your mom-in-law insists that you should have more. You can’t (or don’t want to) say no, so you gulp down three pieces of the melt-in-your-mouth sweets.
It’s a Saturday, you’ve done nothing but sleep around all day, and now, you’re wolfing down sweets. Today, your energy balance is off. That’s because:
Energy received from food > Energy utilized for all activities
Calories in > Calories out
Your spouse, on the other hand, has had a very hectic day. Shopping, cooking, helping the children with homework, they have been running around all day. Plus, unlike you, they don’t have a sweet tooth, so politely refuse the sweets.
Now, in your spouse’s case as well, the energy balance is off but in a different way. For them:
Energy received from food < Energy utilized for all activities
Calories in < Calories out
Your body may be like a car, but unlike a car’s fuel tank, you don’t have a limited capacity. Try filling 25 litres of fuel in a 20-litre fuel tank. You can’t; the excess will spill out.
Sadly, your body has no choice but to do something with the excess calories that it has received. So, it stores the calories, to be used another day to provide energy for your activities.
But, in your case, that day never arrives. Day after day, week after week, you keep on eating more calories than you burn. All those excess calories keep piling up, and your body goes on storing them.
When your parents-in-law see you after three months, your face is looking rounder than last time. Your clothes have become tighter, and when you sit down at the dinner table, you have to loosen your pant buttons.
You, my friend, have gained weight. And this has happened because you’ve been consuming too many calories. If you want to lose weight (actually, you should want to lose fat), you will either have to reduce the number of calories you consume or increase your level of activity so that you burn more calories than you consume.
In other words, if you consume fewer calories than your TDEE for a sustained period, you will lose fat.
That. Is. All.”
This is an Excerpt from ‘Lose Fat, Get FITTR’ (with minor changes to adapt for online format)
Next steps to creating your Customized Nutrition Plan
- Find out your TDEE (/BMR)
- Use Macro Calculator to know how much Protein, Carbs and Fats to include in your Diet
- Add your everyday foods to the free FITTR Diet Tool (Download iOS FITTR App/ Google Play) to know how your current diet stacks up
- Add/ remove ingredients to meet your own Macro and TDEE requirements to create your own Customized Diet Plan
How much weight to lose to get healthy?
Fat Loss, Not Weight Loss
Download: Nutrition Myths (free ebook by INFS)
Download: Review of 11 Popular Diets (free ebook by INFS)
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