Not All Calories Are Created Equal

You want to get lean?

That’s great!  You are a part of a great club of people who all want to better themselves, and making the decision to start trying is the biggest step to take in your fitness journey.

If you’ve been following this blog for long, then you know that I’ve been writing up a series on health, wellness, and nutrition this week.

In my first post, I talked about how I wanted to find a Subjective Diet Format (SDF), a diet tailored for me specifically.  I factored in my weight, my current eating habits, the amount of ambition I have along with my goals, and my Crohn’s Disease(to read that post, click here).

In my second post, I talked about finding the amount of calories you should be eating by using your Basal Metabolic Rate.  I left a link to a Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator, but you could also find one with a quick Google search.  To read that post, click here.

In the last post, I talked about the obvious but oftentimes overlooked..

Eating clean!  The best first step you can make is not cutting your calories or upping the cardio, although those things are both important.  The best first step is cleaning up your eating choices so that you know, despite any extra pounds, that you have a healthier body.  To read that post, click here.

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image courtesy of SimpleReminders.com

..and today’s post naturally picks up where yesterday’s post left off.

I want to drive home a point!  Not all calories are created equal.  Let’s compare Carl to Jimmy:

Carl eats two pounds of macaroni and cheese, and a pound of boneless chicken chunks from Walmart’s deli.  This adds up to about 3,000 calories!  For an active male who works out, this is probably within his basal metabolic rate.  For the sake of this post, let’s say Carl DOES in fact work out.  Carl is possibly eating under his active Basal Metabolic Rate and will lose weight….but is he as healthy as Jimmy?

Jimmy eats five meals.  These five meals are each an eight ounce chicken breast with a serving of broccoli, a serving of green beans, a serving of carrots, and a serving of fruit.  Jimmy MAY indulge once in a while with a starchy white potato.  Overall, Jimmy may be consuming close to the same amount of calories as Carl but I would bet his left arm his diet is going to make him a LOT healthier.  Before you ask…NO, I would not bet my own left arm even if I’m guaranteed a win!  Screw that!

..but my point is this!  Carl’s meal had literally no vegetables and was full of fat and carbs.  He easily got his protein requirement but he didn’t get crap for heart health.

It is important to track protein, carbs, and fat!  However, there’s also factors that most people overlook like sodium and cholesterol.  According to the National Institute of Health, cholesterol plays a MAJOR role in heart disease.  In layman’s terms, lower your bad LDL cholestrol and increase your good HDL cholestrol.  You can do this by avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat and eating more unsaturated fat through walnuts and almonds.

In conclusion to this week’s discussion on diet, I say “BE LIKE JIMMY!  AND DON’T LISTEN TO CARL’S NUTRITIONAL ADVICE!”  I would yell that on every rooftop in town if I thought….you know…people wouldn’t think I’m crazy.

While we know that Carl and Jimmy will both lose weight by eating less calories, we should all agree that Jimmy has the better strategy.  So be like Jimmy, or vegan-paleo-pescatarian Jimmy, and eat healthy.  Not only will you look great, but your body will thank you!

To Bulk Or Cut First

Should I cut or bulk first?

Almost everyone asks this question when they are starting out and the answer is quite simple..

it’s all subjective!

Do you want to bench three plates and you don’t care about being lean?  Then go ahead and do a sloppy bulk my friend!  Lift hard and in a few years you will be insanely strong!

Do you want to be strong but you care a lot more about having a six pack?  Then cut out the hot dogs, the twinkies, and the bullcrap! 😉  You need to restrict your calories to about 500 below your basal metabolic rate(BMR) and go somewhat light when you lift weights.

Now how about all of you in the middle ground who want to be somewhat lean but also strong?

Welcome to my world.  We can do this together!  However, this is still somewhat subjective and ultimately weighs down on the body type you have already.

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I had just gotten out of the hospital and I had a little extra fat but absolutely zero muscle to cut into, so I went straight to a bulk and I am almost content!  It’s almost time for me to cut down my calories.  My strategy is to attempt about 15-20 reps of my 70% max lifts until I am done cutting.  That way I stay strong and quickly lean out.

As for you, if you have a lot of extra fat and some muscle then go ahead and cut.

If you are lean but you’re weak, go ahead and bulk.

All of us can get stronger and max out our muscles!

Make Sure You Do Some Cardio

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To all of you serious weight lifters and dieters out there, it may be a great idea to add in some cardio! Just remember that cardio is important.

Cardio is just as important as the weight lifting and the dieting.  Maybe you are wanting to be strong to the point that you started weight lifting, but endurance built from cardio will help you increase repetitions and sets during your workouts.  For the dieters, cardio is important because:  If you fail at your diet on any particular day, you can simply amp up the cardio and burn off those extra calories.

Take a look at any distance runner and conditioned athlete.  Just take a look at any of them.  They had to do a lot of cardio to get to where they’re at.  They had do a lot of conditioning and it may have taken a lot of running or swimming.

Also, as far as the running or swimming goes, you can choose to do whatever cardiovascular exercise you want.  I would just recommend that you do cardio three to five times a week.  It can be running, or swimming, or even walking.  There are a lot of different cardiovascular exercises.

Remember, the cardio is good for your overall cardiovascular health.  This means that in the ‘long run’ it’s good for your entire health.  By doing cardio, your blood flow will be better which in turn is better for your major organs.  It will help you lose weight, and you’ll be a well-balanced athlete.

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