Nutrition 101

Everything you need to reach your nutrition goals
Gia Tyler-O'Keefe
May 9, 2024
Nutrition 101

Gia Tyler-O'Keefe


May 9, 2024

Here is everything you need to know to get started on your nutrition journey. 

This document will cover the following topics:

What is a calorie?

Weight Loss vs. Muscle Gain

How you know if you’re in a caloric deficit, at maintenance, or in a surplus?

Calculating your caloric intake

Diet Trends / What are they?

Counting Calories/Macros

It is my belief that everyone should know the most fundamental, basic information regarding nutrition. Once you have this information, it is up to you to put in the work to make lifestyle changes that will yield the results you’re looking for. 

What is a calorie?

  • A calorie is a unit of energy used to quantify the amount of energy obtained from food and expended through physical activity. In nutrition, calories are often used to measure the energy content of food and beverages, helping individuals manage their energy intake and expenditure for maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. You can find the calorie content of a specific food on the food label provided or our good friend, Google.

Weight Loss vs. Muscle Gain

  • Weight loss refers to the reduction in body mass, typically achieved by burning more calories than consumed, leading to a decrease in fat, muscle, and water weight. This is important to note - it is very common and normal to lose body fat AND muscle when you’re dieting to lose weight. It involves calorie restriction or being in a caloric deficit. 
  • Muscle gain involves increasing muscle mass through strength training and proper nutrition. It focuses on building lean muscle tissue while minimizing fat gain. This process requires consuming sufficient protein and calories to support muscle growth, along with resistance exercises to stimulate muscle development. 
  • Weight loss primarily targets overall body mass reduction, while muscle gain emphasizes increasing muscle size and strength.

How do you know if you’re in a caloric deficit, at maintenance, or in a surplus?

  • Understanding your intake requires trial and error. It also requires a period of time where you are tracking what you eat every day. This means that in some way shape or form you are logging your food intake and accounting for all of the calories you consume. 
  • Signs of being in a caloric deficit include consistent weight loss over time, feeling hungry or having reduced energy levels, and potentially experiencing changes in body composition such as decreased fat mass.
  • Being at maintenance typically results in stable body weight over time. Energy intake (what you eat) matches energy expenditure (what you burn through exercise and daily living), so weight neither increases nor decreases significantly. You may feel satisfied with your energy levels and not experience significant changes in body composition. 
  • You will know that you are in a caloric surplus if you experience gradual weight gain over time, potentially accompanied by increases in both muscle and fat mass. You may feel more energetic and have ample fuel for physical activities in and out of the gym. Precise manipulation of macronutrients and the type of food you eat will dictate muscle gain vs fat gain (clean bulk vs dirty bulk).

If you’re someone who can mentally and emotionally handle weighing yourself, I recommend stepping on a scale once a week to track your progress. Be consistent with this; weigh yourself on the same day at the same time. You will notice the trends and better understand how your body responds to different stimuli or changes in nutrition. 

Calculating your caloric intake

It is incredibly important to know that this is just a rough estimate calculation. You will have to go through the trial and error period to find what actually helps you reach your goal of weight loss/maintenance/muscle gain. There is no one right answer for your nutrition goals, as annoying as that can be! You have to do the work and figure out what serves you best.
Once you have determined your calories, do it consistently for at least 30 days and then make modifications if necessary.

For Fat Loss:

  • Take your goal body weight in pounds x 12 (example: 150lbs x 12 = 1800 calories) 
  • Goal body weight is what you might weigh at your leanest (be realistic - not what you weighed while you were in high school LOL).

For Maintenance:

  • Typically anyone trying to get to a maintenance period has just come off of a fat loss phase. It’s important not to jump right back into a large increase of calories.
  • Understanding how many calories you need to eat for fat loss will help understand how many you need for maintenance. Use your fat loss calories and increase slightly over time, 200-300 calories per week. 
  • If you’re already relatively lean and you’re in a fat loss phase, use this calculation: Current bodyweight x 14 

For Muscle Gain

  • Same thing goes, understanding your fat loss calories and maintenance calories will help you with deciding what your muscle gain calories should be. If you just simply over consume it’s very likely that you gain weight and fat. This has to be a gradual increase and what you eat matters!
  • Current bodyweight x 16 or more

Diet Trends / / What are they?

Keto/Ketogenic Diet

This is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet designed to shift the body's metabolism away from carbohydrates and towards fat and ketones. Typically, a standard ketogenic diet consists of approximately 70-75% of calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and only about 5-10% from carbohydrates.


Weight loss

Improved blood sugar control

Enhanced mental clarity and focus


Not sustainable for most people

Eliminating an entire food group (carbs)

Requires adequate planning for social outings

Intermittent Fasting

  • Intermittent fasting (IF) involves alternating periods of fasting with periods of eating.
  • Unlike traditional calorie-restricted diets, which focus on what foods to eat, intermittent fasting primarily focuses on when to eat.
  • Examples:
    • 16/8 method: This involves fasting for 16 hours each day and restricting your eating window to 8 hours. For example, you might eat between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm, then fast until 12:00 pm the following day.
    • 5:2 diet: With this method, you eat normally for five days of the week and restrict your calorie intake to about 500-600 calories per day for the other two days (non-consecutive). These fasting days are usually not consecutive.


Can lead to weight loss if properly restricting calories

Improved insulin sensitivity

Can essentially eat whatever you want (not an elimination diet)


Doesn't leave much leeway for changes in schedule or routine; aka might not be sustainable

Calorie/Macro Counting

  • This is a lifestyle where you weigh and measure everything that you consume; condiments, food and beverages.
  • By monitoring calorie intake, you can gain a better understanding of energy balance—how many calories consumed versus how many burned through physical activity and metabolism. This understanding is crucial for weight management, as consuming more calories than the body needs can lead to weight gain, while consuming fewer calories can lead to weight loss.
  • By monitoring macronutrient intake, individuals can ensure they're getting an appropriate balance of nutrients to support their health and fitness goals. For example, someone following a high-protein diet may prioritize protein-rich foods to support muscle growth and repair, while someone following a low-carbohydrate diet may restrict carbohydrate intake to promote fat loss or manage blood sugar levels.
  • The three macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates

Protein = 4 calories per gram

Fat = 9 calories per gram

Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram

For a 2,000 calorie diet with the macronutrient breakdown at 40% carbs - 30% protein - 30% fat split would be:

  • 40% x 2,000 = 800 / 4 = 200g carbohydrates
  • 30% x 2,000 = 600 / 4 = 150g protein
  • 30% x 2,000 = 600 / 9 = 66.6g fat

All of these methods have their pros and cons. You have to decide what will work best for YOU and what yields the results you’re looking for, sustainably. 

It’s important to maintain a balanced and varied diet and to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian if you have specific dietary concerns or goals. 
And lucky for us, we have them on staff! Email to get scheduled for a nutrition consultation or visit our website to get started.

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