I, Dan, signed up for a nutrition course back in September through Precision Nutrition. The goal on the back end of it would be to become a Certified Nutritional Coach. The coursework has taken me through everything from the biology of the human digestive system, the absorption of nutrients, the process of converting food into energy and the particular needs of our body to finally developing nutrition plans and working with clients to implement those plans.
I wanted to put some of this nutritional training into action, and who better to be my first test subjects than Laura and I! So last week both of us did a little nutritional experiment. We have never been calorie counters. We believe and try to teach people that it is more about quality than quantity. If you get the quality right the quantity will take care of itself.
One of the common faults that we see with a lot of people we work with is that they don’t eat ENOUGH food/calories. Modern culture as perpetuated a myth that the way to lose weight is to exercise more and eat less. The focus is not on what you eat but more so, how much you eat. We wanted to bust this myth, especially using Laura as a female example.
I calculated the calorie needs for Laura and myself based on our current weight, body type, activity level, whether we wanted to lose or maintain, and also took into account the fact that Laura is nursing so she required some additional calories. This is what we came up with based on Laura wanting to lose weight and I wanted to maintain;
As a woman, eating 2800 calories a day is CRAZY....heck, even if you're a man it's really tough. There were a few reasons why I wanted to try it: 1) I wanted to see if I could ACTUALLY do it 2) I wanted to prove to women that they shouldn't be afraid of food or calories and 3) I had heard of people actually losing weight and I wanted to see if that would happen!
Honestly we sort of decided at the last minute to do this...so we really didn't give ourselves a chance to back out. Kinda smart, huh?? To keep it simple and to the point, I'll break it down by day:
Day 1: I felt like I was eating CONSTANTLY but I felt good! I didn't feel like I was going to explode or anything but by about 5:30 pm I did feel a bit gassy ;) Hey! Just being honest! I had quite a few carbs left over that night so I was forced to have a glass of wine...darnit. I actually went over on my fat and protein but not by much.
Day 2: Pretty much every day we both had 1 egg and 8 egg whites scrambled with ham and spinach...and 2 or 3 slices of Ezekiel toast. Really good but we missed having the entire egg! Felt pretty good all day...and by the end of the day I had come SOCLOSE to hitting all of my macros
Day 3: Decided to add some steel cut oats to the menu for breakfast, on top of the scrambled eggs to try to make sure I got my carbs in. Having to track everything is getting a bit old...but weirdly addicting at the same time.
Day 4: Was a bit short on carbs but ran out of calories at the end of the day. It's a constant balancing act...trying to find the perfect blend of foods that will meet all your macros as well as your calories! I can imagine if you're going to do this long term you find that balance and just stick with those same foods over and over and over....Ugh. Doesn't sound like fun to me!
Day 5: FRIDAY!!! We drove to Des Moines on this day and packed snacks. We even tried to stick with the plan for dinner when we were at my parents house...Dan went and bought some smoked salmon and baby red potatoes. And then we even had some pizza from Costco :) Hey! If it fits your macros...go for it! That's a hashtag on Instagram, go check it out!
All in all, I'm actually really glad we did this. I felt great all week except for being a bit gassy at first. It was kinda fun getting to eat so many carbs because we normally don't eat that much but like I said, tracking everything got a bit monotonous. I will say that by the end of the week I felt leaner and not as bloated as crazy as that sounds!!
I went from weighing 154 lbs on Monday morning to weighing 151.3 lbs on Saturday morning. I seriously couldn't believe it!
Honestly, I'd be tempted to keep going with this plan to see what the long term effects would be, BUT I love a variety of food and I don't like to have to worry about where I'm at with my macros before I eat every meal. I will definitely do this again though in the future!!
The quantity of food wasn't a big issue for me. I guess I had previously been trying to get around 2,500 calories without thinking about it too much. The one thing that was tough for me was eating the quantity of carbs that I was supposed to eat. I'm used to a little higher fat diet. I would say I used to get about 40-50% of my calories from fat, 25% protein and 25% carbs.
I won't go quite as detailed as Laura but my experience was very similar to hers. The first couple of days I was a little gassy from the added protein. The constant tracking of calories was a little annoying. It made eating multi-ingredient homemade dishes pretty difficult so we tended to eat a lot of the same stuff; chicken, brown rice, turkey, pork tenderloin, salads for lunch, and lots of egg whites for breakfast.
Just looking in the mirror I would say that I leaned out a little bit. I could see a little more definition in my abs. Even though I was trying to maintain weight I actually ended up losing 1.1 lbs in the 5 days. I went from 164.6 to 163.5. So some weight came off somewhere...
My takeaways, are that I'm eating a little too much fat, especially if I want to build muscle and lean out. I was also a little short on my protein. So I've kept up with greek yogurt as a snack and I try to make one or two snacks a day something protein dense: tuna salad, turkey breast, or Shakeology.
If you have questions about what your calorie needs are or what your recommended macronutrient breakdown would be, I would love to help you figure that out. Feel free to shoot me an email and we can chat.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.