How Much Should I Eat in a Day?
by Mitch Davis
Let me break out my super-fancy coaches-only macro-calculator and tell you exactly, I mean exactly how much you should be eating a day. Or, I could not be a dirt-bag of an influencer, and tell you the truth. Is knowing exactly how much I should be eating important? Well, yes, but also no. I hope to defend my ambiguous answer over the next few paragraphs.
First, I think it’s important to note how many humans have tried to look at their nutrition through a numbers-standpoint. We have those who track calories, those who track macros (protein, fat, carbohydrates), and those who will track both. Of the thousands of humans I have coached over the years, I have clumped these individuals into two groups. First, we have the Type A group, who thrives off of something like macro or calorie tracking. They need this type of approach to stay consistent and dialed in. Then, there is the group that I call “The Normal Humans”. Nothing against the first group, but for many of us, tracking calories and macros is a pain in the butt and something you’ll probably not stay consistent with.
So, rather than tell you that you absolutely must track your calories to figure out how much you’ll need to be eating, I’m going to assure you that you are not alone in your fears, anxieties, or distaste of tracking calories and macronutrients. Now, for those of you who do wish to know how much you should be tracking, a simple google search of “Macro Calculator” will do the trick. Additionally, some free apps, such as MyFitnessPal are great tools for helping you track with little effort. The goal here is to not be too concerned with “how accurate” and know that chances are these tools are “accurate enough”. Humans are pretty terrible at math, so regardless of the degree of correctness your tracking device or macro counter has, it is still so much more superior to your “advanced guesstimation technique”. You know who you are, taking a gigantic scoop of peanut butter from the jar with an open fist, saying “this is one serving, for sure”.
Let’s look at some things we can do to replace the need to count calories. This list is extensive, and you need to memorize it, no matter how long it takes to learn. Are you ready?
Don’t Eat Like a Toddler
That might take you a bit to learn, but I trust you’ll stay dedicated to learning that extensive list. Humor aside, for many of us, eating better is really that simple. Toddlers are inconsistent, they are picky, they will pick the junk food if you give them the option. You get it. So, what is the opposite of toddler-style eating? Be consistent. I’d rather see someone eat healthy 80% of the time than seeing someone eat “perfectly” 20% of the time, only to “fail” another diet. One of the rules I attempt to live by and one that I encourage for my personal clients is the rule of one. Often, when trying to take on the big task of any type of behavior change, we throw everything we have at that given task. Usually, this is unmanageable, and one that leads to us giving up. Instead, pick one behavior change, implement it, and stick to it for 30 days. You own this, you’ll have twelve new, healthier habits each year. Extrapolate that over the course of 5 to 10 years and you’re cookin’ with gasoline!
Keep it really simple. Instead of wondering how many grams of sugar are in an apple, eat the apple. I promise you it is better than the candy bar you were about to pick up. Less processed foods, more natural foods. Less worrying about if you can eat that extra handful of berries, more worrying about if you’re getting enough H20.
We’ve taken a very straightforward concept that is eating healthy and made it almost impossible to understand. Why? Because then our lack of adherence doesn’t seem to be so much our fault, as it is the complexity of “eatin’ well”. Think less. It’ll pay off big time.
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Mitchell Davis is the Director of Remote Coaching at Power Train Sports & Fitness. He is a PhD candidate at Liberty University where he is pursuing his doctorate in Health & Exercise Science. He has been a coach and educator for 13 years, serving in roles such as collegiate strength and conditioning coach, high school strength and conditioning coach, adjunct professor, personal trainer, and fitness consultant.
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