One of the most common questions by the person looking to change their body is: “How much should I eat?” Well the answer to that question depends on what your goal is. When people think of changing body composition, most people think of losing weight or more correctly, losing body fat. However, for the purpose of this edition, we will not forget the person that wants to gain weight or more appropriately, gain muscle. And then we also have the tweeners, those people who have already gotten to their ideal body weight or composition and want to maintain.
The reasons will be many for why a person would want to gain or lose weight and can be due to health, fitness, athletic performance or cosmetic reasons. What I am about to tell you can be worth a ton if you apply it and you won’t find it in any text books. The first thing you need to know is your Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the amount of calories you would need to sustain yourself if you were just to lie in bed all day. I can give you a bunch of fancy equations to figure this out, but the easiest way, and one that will get you very close to your BMR if you were to use a fancy equation, is to take your body weight and multiply that by 10 (BW x 10). So if you weigh 200 pounds, your BMR would be roughly 2,000 calories. Now, that can vary depending on age, body surface area, muscle mass and family background, but you get the point. If you were dieting to lose body fat, you would start anywhere between BWx10-12.
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, go below your BMR for dieting purposes or there will be a significant price to pay. I only do this with bodybuilders and it takes a great deal of expertise to diet successfully when dieting below BMR (need to know how hormones and biofeedback dictate this). For weight maintenance, you would take BWx14-16. For weight gain or pure bulking up, take BWx18-20 and don’t forget to put the mirror away, lol. There are very few people who can lose weight and gain muscle at the same time, so this is not a concern for us. Keep these numbers in mind the next time you are trying to navigate yourself through the forest of nutrition, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be. And remember, coax the body, don’t force it!
For the second part of this edition, I would like to highlight the importance of listening. Back when I was in high school, I went to basketball camp out at Michigan State (my favorite team) and got the chance to soak up knowledge from their Head Coach, Tom Izzo. One of Izzo’s favorite sayings was, “Learn to listen and listen to learn.” This statement is so simple, and yet 99% of the people out there don’t take it to heart. When you are in a conversation with someone, are you just concerned with getting in your side of it? Or are you busy trying to tell the other person how much you know? You already know what you know, so listen to the other person and try to learn something new. There are many people out there that can teach us all something and many that have tried, but if you don’t know how to listen, you will miss those precious opportunities. Always keep the mindset that you really don’t know that much and you are always willing and able to learn and listen. If you keep this mindset, you will have a life full of learning and growing. The moment we stop listening and learning is the moment that we stop growing.