beef burger

A big mistake that I come across a lot is around calories, and crucially, getting the right kinds of calories. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle, ensuring you get the right kind of calories in your diet is critical to your success.

I was talking to my friend about this recently after he confessed he was putting on more fat than muscle during a weight gain programme. He insisted he was being vigilant with his diet, and he handed me his iPhone and opened up “myFitnessPal”, a great app for keeping a record of your food intake based on your individual goals. He had allocated himself 3,200 calories per day, and of those calories he had split them up into 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 30% fats. Looking at the results I could see that he had remained within the calorie range to a 50-100 calories threshold per day, and his split between protein/carbs/fats were also all within 1-2%. Impressive. I looked at his food diary, and he had split the 3,200 calories into 6 meals all between 500-600 calories each. Also very good. I then looked at what he had actually been eating, and I flagged a few items in each meal that might explain the problem!

  • Swiss Roll!
  • White bread
  • Fridge Raiders
  • Jaffa Cakes
  • Coke
  • KFC chicken

Can you see the problem? He had justification for everything in the list, such as Swiss Roll was high in carbs, Fridge Raiders and KFC were high in protein etc, but this is not the type of food he should be eating in order to build lean gains (note: even he had no excuse for the Coke!). The 3,200 calories his body needs should have been made up of high quality proteins, fibrous carbs from vegetables and healthy fats from oils and nuts. I talked this through with him and it immediately clicked; he realised he needed to think about the nutritional value of what he was eating and not just counting the numbers.

If you are on a calorie controlled diet, have a think about the type of foods you have eaten in the past few days. Have you been eating the right kinds of foods, or have you simply been eating within a calorie range?