Calories & Macros: How To Eat For A Body Like An Anime Character
Humankind cannot gain weight without ingesting a calorie surplus first. To gain, you must be in a caloric surplus. To lose, you must be in a caloric deficit. That is the first law of thermodynamics.
In those days we really believed that to be a diets one and only truth.
If you’d rather watch than read here is an abridged version of the article. Though I personally think the article version is vastly superior:
I see a lot of otaku struggling with the concept of weight loss and what it actually means to lose weight. Being fair it’s not just otaku, it’s most people. And the reason why is because the fitness industry complicates how to get in shape to manufacture a need like trying to sell you a weight loss food, pill, or any other bullshit out there.
To lose weight, you have to control calories. What are calories? Calories are the units of energy stored in our food. When we eat food we take in those calories, process them, and then use them for bodily functions or store them for later use as either glycogen in the muscles or bodyfat. When we have excess fat, we ultimately need to burn more calories than we can consume and the easiest way to do this is to eat less. The reverse is true for weight gain (fat or muscle). If you’re attempting to lose weight a calorie deficit of 500cal a day will result in an estimated lb of weight loss a week, if you’re attempting to bulk up a daily surplus of 200 calories is probably gonna give you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to muscle gain.
This is why almost any diet that relies on a caloric deficit works for fat loss. Twinky diet, subway diet, McDonald’s diet etc they all work by controlling calories.
In the graphic above I’m not recommending that you base your entire diet around pizza. What I’m trying to say is that calories are THE biggest factor for weight loss. Not some crazy superfood, a magic drink, a special diet hack. It's calories.
So could we lose weight by just counting calories? Yes, you could theoretically lose weight without exercise and knowing anything else other than that. But there’s more factors to consider than simply weight loss, do you want to lose fat or muscle? Do you want to feel better or just look thinner? Do you want to look fit and muscular or skinny and emmaciated? Do you want to be healthier? That’s were macronutrients and fibre come into play.
Macronutrients in this context are your proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Each of them have a different function in the body and are all important for the purposes of body recomposition.
Macro 1: Protein
Protein is possibly the most important macronutrient to account for as it helps you retain and gain muscle mass whilst also being the least calorically dense of the 3 macronutrients. Proteins are 4 calories per gram but since a quarter of that energy is burned off through digestion (which is known as DIT) it’s safer to say that protein is 3 calories per gram. I usually recommend people start off eating 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight, but to be honest with you I eat way more than this to take advantage of DIT and how filling protein can be. Think about it, what makes you feel more full? A bowl of chicken, or a bowl of cereal? For this reason half of my calories come from protein.
Cosplay: Portgas D Ace from One Piece. He knows a thing or two about thermogenesis, just look at all the meat he eats.
Macros 2-3: Carbohydrates & fats
Carbohydrates, or carbs for short, help you fuel performance and are 4 calories per gram. Fats help you feel fuller and may have skin, hormonal, tendon, and joint benefits whilst being 9 calories per gram. My simple advice here is to fill the rest of your calories with whatever amounts of carbs or fat you’d like as long as carbs remain higher than fats for performance reasons as well as generally being more filling per calorie. I also personally time my carbs around training as they are more likely to be stored as glycogen than fat around that time.
Not a macro but still important: Fibre
Fibre basically helps you poop by looking after your guts and the more protein you eat the more fibre you’re going to need. Since you can only really get fibre from plants, this will also take care of most of your vitamin and micronutrient needs. I recommend a minimum of 10 grams of fibre per 1,000 calories to a maximum of 45 grams of fibre a day.
Putting all of this together:
Firefist Ace teaching people how to EAT. High fibre, high protein, and mostly unprocessed foods should be the staple of your diet. After all: calories count
As you can see from the above photo, dieting doesn't mean you have to eat less. Which is good news for those who feel like they're addicted to food, you can eat more of it WHILST losing weight!
As discussed earlier calories are what counts when it comes to weight loss. Give or take, both sides of this image are 1,090 calories & both contain ice cream, which one do you think is more satisfying in this scenario? My bet is on the right. Not only is there more food volume, but the food within that volume is also incredibly satiating. High protein, high carb, and healthy lower calorie options mean that you get to eat a ton more food. Outside of the obvious health benefits, that's the biggest reason to eat clean for fat loss.
Right now for my regular schedule I'm pretty much eating the meal on the right or variants thereof on a daily basis twice a day with a snack in between. So this isn't some theoretical model, I know it works. Nutrient dense high volume foods are such a useful tool whilst dieting that when done right (ie, actually eating healthy foods that you like) it doesn't feel like a 'diet' and all it requires is a modest level of restraint, a bit of planning, and smart food choices.
As a real life Shonen protagonist there's no way in hell I'm not eating a ton of food 💪⠀
The icing on the theoretical cake: Supplementation
Most supplements are useless but for general health I do take Vitamin D, Zinc, Magnesium, and fish oil because I don’t get it in my regular diet. Vitamin D is a weird one, we basically synthesise it from the sun so if you don’t get much sunshine/live in a cold climate like me it has to be supplemented. That’s what supplementation means, to supplement something that’s missing from your every-day diet.
If you would like to learn more about common nutrient deficiencies, their optimal dose, and what foods to get them from click here
That’s pretty much it. To recap:
>Eat high protein
>Eat more carbs than fats
>Eat enough fibre
>Supplement with what you actually need