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how much food

How Much Food Do You Really Need? A No Nonsense Guide

Adapting Caloric Needs, For Your Body Goals

Ever wondered how much food you really need to eat? You know, just that amount needed for our brains and bodily processes to function their best, all the while keeping those fats in control and stomach-friendly. If you’re trying to get in healthy shape, that is the million-dollar question. “How much food is enough?” “Do I really need to count calories?”

We’ve talked about The Planet Friendly Diet a lot because it’s the perfect partner to a healthy transformation. By improving the quality of your diet with a truckload of fruits and vegetables, you lose weight naturally and set the body up for fitness – as you pair it with progressive workouts.

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And on this food plan, it’s not about strictly eating a set number of foods. It’s adapting your caloric needs to suit your body composition goals. (Note, the guidelines that follow are based on women’s training needs to look their best — not for athletes with performance goals.)how much food

Explaining Caloric Needs

Although calorie counting is not a preferred method of a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to be aware that foods contain calories and exercise burns off calories. One pound of body fat is equal to 3,500 calories. This means that if you want to lose one pound of body fat, you must cut 3,500 calories.

Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight by losing fat and gaining muscle. For 4 or 5 days per week, you eat 1,200 calories like you would normally on The Planet Friendly Diet and then eat 300 to 500 calories more than usual, twice per week on heaviest training days.

  • If what you want is to maintain weight but lose fat and gain muscle, you eat 300 to 500 fewer calories on lighter training days. Then increase intake for the other days by 300 to 500 calories over 5 small meals.
  • If you want to bulk up, on the other hand, by losing fat and building muscle, you eat 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day for 4 or 5 days per week. That means adding 300 to 500 calories to total daily consumption of what you would normally eat on The Planet Friendly Diet. Then resume a 1,200-calorie diet 2 days per week — eating 300 to 500 fewer calories than usual.

Being healthy is not about a set amount of calories but achieving balance according to your needs.

how much food

The Healthy Way To Lose Fat 

You’ll need to lose fat in any kind of healthy transformation and while it can be done by solely reducing food, it’s not a good idea. Severely restricting food can result in depleted fuel stores, muscle wasting, stress fractures, fainting, reduced performance, weakness, fatigue and slowed metabolism. Drastically increasing activity levels is not a viable option either, as intense exercise requires increased nutrition to ensure the body can operate optimally and meet the increased energy needs. See what we’re doing here?

how much food

Only Taking What You Need

A combination of reduced eating and gradual increased activity will lead to healthy and gradual weight loss. By eating 250 calories less per day and burning an extra 250 calories by exercise, you’ll lose 1 pound per week. That may not seem like a whole lot, but this weight loss, as opposed to others, is more likely to stay off because you’ve maintained your muscle and kept your metabolism buzzing. We’ll let our amazing alumni speak for the success of this method. Little steps add up!

The goal is to put your body into balance so that you can eat 1,700 t0 2,000 calories per day while maintaining optimal weight. You’ll be able to eat more and weigh less eventually.

how much food

Find Your Happy Size And Stay There

This might be easier said than done, but by following these base guidelines for 60 to 90 days, you’ll start to reset your metabolism. If ever there comes a time when you stray and eat too much (and trust me it’s 99.9 likely), just get back on track.

Sticking to eating guidelines will make it easier for you to eat more based on hunger, less on emotion. Yes, emotional eating is an important factor. We can’t deny ourselves that. But eating like this leads to disordered eating patterns way too often.

Staying light and happy in your food choices means embracing our different needs to eat, and if you’re basing it purely on metabolically what your body is telling you, then you’ll feel great on these guidelines.

Everybody has a different energy (calorie) requirement. This energy requirement varies based on gender, age, weight, height, type and amount of physical activity. So keep an eye on the scale and boost intake to 1,500 or 1,700 calories as needed in order to maintain healthy weight and a happy, energized lifestyle.

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Cat Smiley

Cat Smiley

Fitness Director at Whistler Fitness Vacations
Cat Smiley is a certified Life Coach, Master Trainer, Wilderness Guide and Sports Nutritionist (author of The Planet Friendly Diet). She has been named 3-time Canadian Trainer of the Year by the International Sports Science Association and is a former professional athlete. Follow her on Linkedin or Facebook - and of course, sign up for a fitness program with us to work with her in Whistler!
Cat Smiley
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