Weighty Matters

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Grams, Calories, Percentages – Keeping Everything in Balance

on February 2, 2013

Cooking Channel is running back to back to back episodes of Not My Mama’s Meals with Bobby Dean.  Months ago I professed my love of that man.  Okay, I’m sure a shrink would have a field day with me developing a crush on a man who can prepare and feed me healthier meals, but I don’t care.  It’s not like I’m going to camp outside his apartment and stalk him when he goes to the market.

On the other hand, Bobby, if you ever google your name and run across this blog how about an episode on small plate dishes?  I’ll come and help you cook.  Ok, my name isn’t a draw.  Maybe Al Roker will help?

Anyway, the man was practically birthed on butter, heavy cream and Southern food cooked by his mother, Paula, who never met a cow product that she didn’t love.  I’ve watched her show in the past and practically salivated over some of her recipes.  However, although they might be good comfort food for the emotions, you and I both know that they aren’t the healthiest for the body and heart.

God love the Dean family.  They realize it too and have amended their cooking and eating habits.   They’ve all lost a great deal of weight and should be applauded for sharing their stories.  I’m sure that butter has not been banned from any of their households, nor should it be.  Sometimes you just have to have a pat.

Ok, back on topic.  In each episode of NMMM, Bobby shows us his mom’s original versions and tells us the astronomical number of calories and fat grams in each serving.  Then he demonstrates what he does to lighten the dishes and slash the numbers.

All of the numbers talk tonight sent me over to my phone to check the myfitnesspal app.  I log my food intake and exercise pretty much every day.  If you’ve never used mfp, there’s a summary feature that shows you the nutrition goals based on the total calories you’re shooting for each day.  It lists fat, total carbs which are then broken down between fiber and sugars, protein, cholesterol, sodium, various minerals and vitamins, etc.

In reading the numbers, I realized that I’ve been following the original food plan for so long that I don’t really know the current recommendations for a healthy, balanced diet.  I know that I’m still eating far fewer calories than I will on a maintenance plan, but I figured there was no harm in looking at numbers now.  I wanted to see how the figures stack up in mfp too.  I did some research and it looks like the official dietary guidelines recommend that protein make up about 10-35% of your daily food; carbohydrates should be 45 to 65%; fats 20 to 35%.  (Yes, if you add the top numbers in each of those ranges, the total comes to greater than 100%.   Hmm.)

Based on 1000 calories, mfp set my daily goals at 38g of protein, 138g of carbs, 33g of fat.  Math has never been my strong suit, but I swiftly figured out that if I was going to figure out the percentages, I needed to know how many calories are in each respective gram.

Gotta love the internet for swift research.  There’s an easy 4-9-4 formula.  One gram of protein = 4 calories.  One gram of carb = 4 calories. One gram of fat = 9 calories.

So, multiply by X, carry the X and, voila!  According this the guidelines, mfp is pretty much on target, except that they set my goal on the low end of the protein range.  At 38g, that’s only 152 calories or roughly 15% of total calories.

Has the arithmetic bored your brain yet?  Yes, mine too.

Right now, I’m supposed to be higher on protein and lower on carbs, so it’s actually good that I went through this configuring exercise.  I still need to shoot for more than 60 grams of protein, but that’s doesn’t mean I can do that and keep the higher carb count too.  On a daily basis, I’ll adjust to up protein and dial back carbs.

I honestly don’t like to get too caught up in the numbers.  It makes my head hurt.  I just like to know the general target for the main components.  If I can consistently hit those, and do the general reminders of shooting for lean proteins, healthy-not-empty carbs, go for healthy fats, I’ll be good shape.  Literally and figuratively.

If Bobby Dean can do it, so can I. 🙂

5 responses to “Grams, Calories, Percentages – Keeping Everything in Balance

  1. Hope says:

    Have you heard the Paula Dean interview from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me? It’s pretty awesome.

  2. Susanne says:

    I’ve never heard of MFP so I looked at it, tried it out, and holy smokes! I calculated what I ate yesterday, and ouch.

    I can’t see where they charge for this. Do they? Hard to believe it’s all free.


  3. Skye says:

    I use MFP too. It’s very useful for keeping me in contact with what I’m eating and how it figures into a healthy, weight-loss diet, or even just a healthy regular diet. I dropped off the last month, but plan to get back to it because it is very useful and offers interesting info about some of the nutrients you consume.

    Good for you for doing all that damned math to see how you can configure MFPs numbers to suit your numbers better.

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