Help to separate the (whole) wheat from the chaff
June 21, 2006 9:56 PM Subscribe
I'm thoroughly baffled about how I should eat.
posted by synecdoche to health & fitness (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Over the past year, I've been working on reforming my body. I lost a lot of extra weight that I had packed on since high school and am currently at a healthy body fat percentage (12% - 18% depending on the measurement method). Unfortunately, during that time, I lost a fair bit of muscle, likely from eating too few calories. In short, I lost the weight, but I didn't end up with a body I was really happy with.
About five or six weeks ago, I started to train with weights again. I'm currently working out with weights three times a week, doing high-intensity interval training two days a week, and then do some other form of cardio (it varies-- running, basketball, street hockey, whatever) on a sixth day. I'm fairly happy with this, and I have seen some definite gains in my strength and muscle.
However, I am still stymied by what I should be eating. I used Weight Watchers to lose the weight initially, and it gave me a set amount of points that I ate every day. However, as I said, I think it was too little food for me, a 24-year-old male. I'm trying now to go it alone, but the conflicting reports on caloric requirements have me completely confused.
Depending on the calculators I've looked at, I should be eating anywhere from 2000 to 3500 calories per day, given my current workout schedule. Add to that the fact that some of these things use abstracts like "activity modifiers" and such, I don't have any clue as to if what I am eating is enough, too little, or what. I know WHAT to eat, just not how much of it.
So, what is the most reliable method to determine calorie needs? I track my intake with Fitday, but invariably I'll eat something (eating out, etc) that I have no idea how to count. I want to get something I can focus on-- I work better that way-- but there is so much variance that I have no clue what I am doing.
Compounded to this is the fact that I don't know if, at this stage, I should be "cutting" or eating at maintenance. My ultimate goal is to have six-pack abs, not for the abs themselves, but more for what they represent. I've asked at various fitness forums, and still get conflicting answers. Some have said I should cut until I get down below 12% body fat, others until I get to 10%, and still others have said that I should be working on building muscle for a few months before I bother cutting at all.
I've read a lot, but it seems like every new thing I read conflicts something else I read. So, I'm turning to the hive. Aside from avoiding eating anything I can't count the calories for for a week and seeing what happens (and trying to account for the vagaries and imponderables that also affect body composition), what can the average guy do? Ultimately, I don't care about my weight. I just want my body to look better. I want the gut gone-- there is still a bit of one there-- and I'm not concerned about how long it takes, as long as I know I am taking the right road. About the only thing that I am sure of now is that it is good to drink water.