No matter how “healthy” you eat, if changing your body composition – losing fat, gaining muscle – is a goal, it won’t happen until you get a handle on how you’re fueling your body.
To lose weight (and fat), you have to eat less fuel than you burn.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
I created this calculator to help you see how many calories you actually need during the course of a day, along with a handy macronutrient calculator so you can try to get the ideal amount of protein, fat, and carbs based on your goals.
When it comes to choosing a macronutrient profile that suits you, remember: each one of us has a unique operating system.
If you’re trying to lose weight and are healthy, you can help stay full and maintain muscle by eating a higher (not necessarily high!) protein diet.
But there’s no need to overload your body with protein (or fat!). Experiment and see what works best for you!
Note: the calculations for women are different than men, so I’ve tailored this specific calculator for women. If there’s enough interest I’ll make one for men too 🙂
How Do You Track Your Macros?
Exactly how you follow your macros is another post for another day, but a good app to use is either Fitbit’s food log or MyFitnessPal. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of tracking your macronutrient protocol, just focus on the calories.
I figured out how to do it myself, after monkeying around with some nutrition calculators. Honestly, I think that’s the best way but there can be a high frustration level.
I’ve written a super-cheap book on how to track your macros (the link is in the menu bar) but I’ll also put together an easy-to-follow post in the near future. I just wanted to get this calculator out to you!
I’ve tried a lot of homemade protein brownies and cakes in my life, and this recipe is the best. And it couldn’t be any simpler!
Even better than the fact it requires four little ingredients is the fact it’s forgiving. It’s almost impossible to mess it up.
I played with the amounts of each ingredient until I found the perfect brownie consistency for me. If you like yours fudgier, you might want to cut back on the amount of cocoa powder or add another banana.
Note: if you change the consistency, you might have to adjust the cooking time slightly. Fudgy brownies = cook them less time. Cakey brownies = cook them slightly longer.
The ingredients? All you need is almond butter, protein powder, ripe bananas and cocoa powder.
I recommend using a plant-based protein powder for this because it seems to bake up better – I happen to like Sun Warrior but you might have a brand you prefer.
Also, you’ll notice that I used cocoa almond butter, but that’s not necessary. I’ve made it with plain, too, and it’s just as delish. Just make sure it’s smooth and not crunchy!
Almond-Chocolate Protein Brownies
2/3 cup almond butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
2 ripe bananas
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place almond butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt for about 30 seconds. Peel and chop bananas for easy mashing.
Combine cocoa powder, protein powder and bananas in a medium mixing bowl. Begin to mash them together, and add melted almond butter, stirring until all the ingredients are mixed together.
Spray an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray, and spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until done. Remove from oven and cut into 12 portions.
Nutrition information, per brownie: 115 calories, 7 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein.
Enjoy Your Food!
Just because you’re following a “clean eating” plan doesn’t mean you’re stuck with eating chicken and broccoli every day. Check out my FREE recipe book, filled with delicious sweet and salty snacks! Download it below now!
When I was growing up, we rarely ate chicken for supper.
My dad, who had served in the U.S. Air Force and was overfed chicken during his tenure, was hard-pressed ever to eat it again.
I understand his feelings now, because I’m kind of over chicken too. Years of eating chicken breast as part of my healthy “clean” diet has made it so I don’t care if I never eat it again.
But then I decided to try chicken thighs and they make me rethink my anti-chicken stance. They tasted so succulent and yummy, and when you run the nutrition numbers, it’s not as bad as you’d think. Plus, they are loaded with protein.
I tried this recipe out for dinner tonight and it was so good I thought I would share it with you. The healthy fats from the olives and almonds add a succulence to this dish you’ll love!
Note: I don’t use precise measurements when I cook so these are approximations. Cook according to your own tastes!
Slow Cooker Chicken With Olives and Almonds
This slow cooker recipe is comfort food at its best: easy to prepare, delicious to eat! And it's complete with healthy fats: olives and almonds.
I can’t tell you the last time I made a recipe that called for lots of foods that came from cans.
Well, at least until last week, when I stumbled across a recipe that looked delicious, healthy and easy (despite the long list of ingredients). I made a few tweaks, paring down the ingredient list, and prepared it for a weekday supper and wow, was it ever good!
In fact, I ended up freezing half of it to enjoy later.
Turkey Quinoa Slow-Cooker Enchiladas
20 oz. ground turkey breast (99 percent fat-free)
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed1 15 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
1 cup frozen yellow corn
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1 10-oz. can medium enchilada sauce
(optional: 2 tbsp. chili powder, 1 tbsp. cumin)
1 cup low-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
Brown the ground turkey breast in a skillet on the stove (if you can’t find the 20-oz. package, a 1-lb package is just fine).
Place the browned turkey in a slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients, up to but NOT including the cheese. If you have the spices on hand, they will add extra flavor but if you do not have them, no worries.
Mix the ingredients together in the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for about 3 hours. The liquid should be absorbed and the quinoa should be done.
Stir the ingredients again and taste — adjust the spices if you are using them. Add the 3/4 cup of the cheese and stir again. When the cheese has melted, sprinkle 1/4 cup on top. Serve.
Besides the fact that it’s hearty, yummy and nutritious, the other beautiful thing about this recipe is that it’s scalable — you can use it to make 6, 8, or 10 servings depending on how you divide it.
Here’s the nutrition info for 10 servings:
288 calories; 5 grams fat, 6 grams fiber, 37 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein
For 8 servings:
360 calories, 6 grams fat, 8 grams fiber, 45 grams carbs, 31 grams protein
This is my latest favorite go-to breakfast. Super yummy and super good for you!
Here’s the deal: I was holding out big-time against the green smoothie trend because so many of them were calorie bombs filled with sugar. Despite being nutrient-dense, this recipe is refreshing and delicious. And it’s chock full of superfoods that will make you feel awesome.
Check it out:
Kefir — even the name means “feel good” (derived from the Turkish word for “good feelings.”) It’s a probiotic, much like yogurt, but in liquid form.
Kale — it’s trendy for a reason: it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals. If you don’t like kale you can use spinach or a mix of the two (that’s my favorite).
Frozen berries — high in fiber, loaded with antioxidants and low in sugar, these add delicious flavor to the smoothie while at the same time boosting the nutrition value.
Protein powder — Getting a boost of protein early in the day can help stave off hunger later, as well as giving you a muscle-maintaining boost. I like hemp protein, which is the only vegetable source of protein that contains all the amino acids necessary to form a complete protein, but whey protein is another great source.
Until you get your diet in order, you’re wasting your money if you’re using a bunch of supplements like preworkout, BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), fat burners and mass gainers.
Now, I’m not saying all supplements are worthless (although some are). And I’m not talking about any supplements your doc might have recommended for health reasons (like Vitamin D or magnesium, etc.). What I am talking about here are the supplements that claim they’ll boost your performance, cut your fat, build tons of muscle and generally turn you into a strong, ripped, super-sexy beast.
Your money and effort is better spent toward laying a healthy foundation by eating a nutritious, balanced and varied diet. Then, when you get that nailed down, you can get fancier if you want (but I’m guessing you won’t want as much you think you might).
I see people cart bags of supplements into my gym on a regular basis, and I hear them during their workouts, talking with their friends about their eating/partying escapades, and can’t help but notice the disconnect.
And if you spend much time leafing through fitness magazines, you really can’t blame the disconnect because they are filled with images and claims. Important reminder: many fitness magazines are funded by supplement advertisers.
If I have one regret when it comes to health/fitness, it’s that I didn’t figure out how vital nutrition was to our workout results sooner. In my own defense, I grew up in the heyday of the high-carb, low-fat diet (Snackwell cookies, anyone?). And when you’re young it can be harder to feel/see the difference in how your body feels when when fueled one way versus another.
But now that I’m older and wiser, I can tell you firsthand that when you eat a healthier diet your body functions better, right? (duh). Your body is primed to perform better. You have less inflammation. You can work out harder and longer. And you hurt less.
What does “eat a healthier diet” mean? This is a loaded question because everyone’s system is different (as, more importantly, are their beliefs about diet), but there are some basic rules. Cut back on the sugar. Ditch overly processed foods. Eat more vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, starchy carbohydrates (especially after your workout) and healthy fats.
And for those looking for the fast track to being a super-sexy beast, I know that’s not very sexy advice. But saving money and having a healthier body is pretty darn sexy.
If you need a preworkout boost, have a cup of coffee or green tea.
If you need a postworkout meal, make your own (it’s easy and cheap!). If you’re trying to lose weight, come up with something that’s 2 parts carbs to 1 part protein (maybe with 30 grams of carbs and 15 grams of protein). If you’re trying to muscle up, take that ratio to 3 parts carbs to 1 part protein (45 grams of carbs to 15 grams of protein). Keep the fat low in both cases.
You could drink some fat-free chocolate milk (that’s an old standby recommendation). You could eat rice cakes and sliced turkey or chicken. Have an apple or banana and cottage cheese or nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Heck, if it’s postworkout, I could even make an argument for flavored Greek yogurt (in small amounts, from a low-sugar brand).
Back when I was writing the Fit for Duty fitness column for the military newspaper Stars & Stripes, I interviewed a nutritionist who suggested people ditch mass gainers and instead eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread, washed down with a glass of 100 percent percent fruit juice.
Once your diet is in order, you can start laying in the supplements that you believe will help you get to your goals. Before you take them, though, do some investigation to make sure they are worth it both in terms of the cost and your health.
Protein powders can be helpful if you have a hard time getting adequate protein in your diet (I use them). Creatine can be helpful for many people when it comes to improving performance in strength training. And if you have health issues, ask your doctor what s/he thinks about what you’re taking — I’ve brought a bag of supplements to my doctor before and I saved some cash (and I also walked out with recommendations for replacements for what I was taking).
That old saying is true: you can’t out train a bad diet, and you also can’t out supplement one, either.
Do you take supplements? What are your go-tos, and why?