Nutrition-Take a close look at your calorie intake it may be too low!

First off my disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. I have no training in nutrition. I am constantly learning just like most people I know. Everything I know I have learned through reading books, trial and error and research on the world wide web :). So please don't take what I have to say as law. It is not. It is just what I know and have learned.

We moved here in May of last year and I had for the most point lost all but 5 pounds of the weight I wanted to lose. I began running in my neighborhood for fun instead of for weight loss. Then I met a group of friends who did lap swimming on the weekends. I joined them and really started learning how to swim laps. Then last fall I began training for my first half marathon. At this point I was very active but I still was hanging onto the last five pounds I wanted to lose. I trained hard for that first half topping out at 40+ miles a week. I was really tired and I ended up getting really sick. I couldn't figure out why I was so tired.

I finished the race and took two weeks off to get rid of the bronchitis. But even after I had the rest and medication I still felt really tired. I just shook it off and thought maybe I wasn't getting enough sleep so I started going to bed early and sleeping in later. Then I started training for my second half marathon.

The tired feeling stayed and I started to have some nagging pains in my hip and foot during training. I also started to realize I never felt hungry, even after long runs. My friends would talk about how hungry they were at the end of a run and I started to think "Why am I not hungry?".

Then my dad sent me P90X. The day I got it I was very exited I read through both books cover to cover. And then the lightbulb went off in my head. I am not eating enough food!!! 

This is why I couldn't shake that tired feeling. As I read through this book and did the math I realized I was really only eating enough calories to survive not enough to fuel the type of workouts that I was doing. My calorie intake was not an uncommon number, you may be in the same calorie range. It was 1200-1500 calories. This is the number that was calculated by sparkpeople.com (love this site) when I first started trying to lose weight. I was not as active then so the calories met the need to create a deficit to lose a healthy 1-2lbs a week.

My activity increased but I continued to eat right around the same calories just out of habit. I didn't need to count the calories because I had been eating within that calorie range a couple of years. I was eating 3 meals a day with 3-4 snacks. Extra snacks before and after a run or swim. Sounds like enough meals and snacks, right? Wrong.

After reading the P90X nutrition book and then doing a little research online I figured out the right calorie range for my body. It is closer to 1800-1900 calories (creating a slight deficit) on an average day and on long run days more like 2300 calories!

The same week I got the book I quickly increased my calories to the 1800-1900 range. I felt 100% better within the week. My energy levels increased and I felt like a million bucks!

This is the first part of nutrition that I want to share with you. I have two more post coming on the rest of my thoughts on this topic.

I would love if you would take a moment and calculate your calorie range you should be in today. Not the range you were using last year. You can google all types of calculators for this but here is the math:

RMR (resting metabolic rate): calories needed to perform vital body functions.

Weight x 10 = RMR (in calories)

Daily activity burn: calories needed for daily movement apart from exercise.

RMR x 20% = Daily activity burn

Now this the most important part. You need to calculate the calories required for your workouts. So all you runners out there wear your garmin and heart rate monitor to get an accurate calorie count on your runs. For other sports you can use estimations or use a heart rate monitor to calculate calories burned. There are a ton of calculators online that will give you an average.

RMR + Daily activity burn + Avg. Calories burned in your workouts = Calories needed for energy to perform your workouts.

150lb woman
RMR: 1,500
Daily activity burn: 300
Exercise: 400
Calories needed: 2,200 calories a day.
If you were trying to lose weight you would need to create a slight deficit so you would shoot for 1,900 to 2,000 calories a day.


Christina said...

Interesting and a good point to consider. I love your blog! I'm currently in the 1200-1500 daily caloric range (for my weight loss goals). Could you share some typical daily menus in that calorie range? What did you eat when you ate at that range?

migi said...

Thanks for putting this in layman's terms. I have had the hardest time in fitting in the food I need to intake. I, too, am doing P90x and I was shocked at how many calories I was burning. Having to replace those calories has been kicking my butt. Keep up the great work!! I appreciate it!

Meercat said...

Good post, B. Glad you sleuthed out the problem behind your low energy and recurring sickness. I am sure you are feeling much, much better. Like Christina, I want to see some daily menus. Thank goodness for P90X, which got you back on track, calorie-wise. :-)

Simply Fit Mama said...

Christina and Meercat-Thank you! I would love to share some daily menu plans for 1200-1500 calorie range and also I will share some for 1800-1900 which I am in now. But give me a little time to put it together. I will try and get it posted next week!

Migi-Your welcome. I know it's all a little bit confusing but I'm glad this helped a bit. Good to hear you are doing P90x too, it's a real butt kicker (in a good way)!! :)

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