When I first sit down with a Body Comp client we talk about goals, mindset, training (type, volume and intensity), and perceived obstacles to success. Each of these topics could be an entire book in themselves. For the purposes of this blog I briefly want to discuss the concept of rating workouts and how it relates to determining calories, macronutrients, and eventually carb intake.
The overall objective is to match energy inputs with energy outputs and ultimately learn how to do this intuitively and naturally so we can maintain an optimal body fat percentage, support our training/activity level, and avoid pitfalls of either chronic overeating or underrating. When we eat too little relative to our daly expenditure, especially for long periods of time, we can potentially experience a number of negative consequences. On the other hand, when we overeat relative to our training/activity level we can also experience an array of negative consequences like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Rating workouts is a simple formula I use for establishing a starting point for caloric ingestion. Basically, the harder and more frequently you train the more food you should eat to support that training. The less intensely and frequently you train the less food you need.
While this process may seem unnecessary to some, the truth is the majority of people have no idea how much food to eat or in what proportions. They usually eat too much food or too little food. Moreover, they have no clue when it comes to knowing how much protein, carbs, and fat will best support their training and body fat goals. While this may seem complex at first, with enough time and energy spent learning how to manage these important principles, the process can become fluid and natural.
Sample 13 Rating
I use a simple number rating system (shown below):
9: Low Volume/Light Training:
-Mobility, yoga, stretching, technique work
-Strength training sessions where less than 12 total sets of 1-3 reps were performed
-Small muscle groups trained (arms, core, rotator cuff, rehab)
-A workout where very little sweating took place
-Less than 300 calories burned
-Training for less than 30 minutes
-Psychologically “very easy” where the workload is small and doesn’t tire you out very much.
11: Moderately Training Session:
-Strength training with 13-19 “difficult” working sets of 3-6 reps
-Big muscle group hypertrophy work (legs, chest, back)
-Approximately 500 calories burned
-Workouts lasting about an hour
-Shirt is 50% sweaty, 50% dry
-Psychologically “tough.” Very pretty tired afterwards.
13: Hard Training Session(s):
-2x day training or 2+ hours/day
-Strength, powerlifting or hypertrophy session of 20+ working sets of 8-12 reps
-Closer to 1000 calories burned
-Might need two shirts because the first one looked like you showered in it.
-Psychologically a religious experience
Once I determine how many sessions a week my client is doing and how each session rates on my chart I can plug those number into another formula that gives me a semi-accurate starting place for calories and macronutrient ratios. This is only a starting place because as the client monitors how their body responds over a 2-4 week period based on the initial calories and macro recommendation I can adjust accordingly. If they gain too much too fast or are averaging greater than 1kg of weight gain per week, the initial allotment was likely too high. If they lose too much too fast or are averaging over 1kg of weight loss per week, it may be too low.
I recommend clients track their food for at least 4 weeks to fine tune their starting point.