Don’t Forget Your Food!

RFT: Iron in Heels is a monthly series on that seeks to educate, inspire, and empower Tamil youth to improve their fitness and well-being by developing an active lifestyle.

Written By: Sulaksana Sabaratnam


The holidays dinners and parties are just wrapping up and the gym has been filling up with many that are either preparing for that trip or wanting to look their best for family gatherings. Then again, the new year is also right around the corner too! As I’ve preached before, strength training is a great way to tone your body, help rev up your metabolism and in turn, burn a vast amount of calories. However, a detrimental part to the weight-loss process is one’s nutrition. Without a basic understanding of nutrition, figuring out what is going to help you achieve your goals and what to exactly eat when working out becomes frustrating rather quickly.

So, where to begin? Let’s talk calories – that necessary evil that no one really wants to even deal with. I want you to keep in mind that 3500 calories = 1 lb; in order to lose one pound a week, you need to decrease your current caloric intake by 3500 calories, which is 500 calories per day OR 250 calories a day in order to lose ½ pound a week (this places your caloric intake in a deficit). NO! Don’t you dare start thinking that you’ll simply cut down 7000 calories a week and lose 2Lbs. a week! Be realistic – don’t you want to be able to lose fat mass and be able to sustain it? Think about it, the last thing you want is to have that weight boomerang back and end up where you started.

When it comes to tracking calories, it becomes a lot easier when you understand what foods are more calorie dense and why. Calories derive from your macronutrients; proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates are less dense out of the three and each gram is equivalent to 4 calories (1g Protein = 4 calories and 1g Carbohydrate = 4 calorie). Fat, however, is much more dense; 1 gram Fat = 9 calories. Ughh! So many numbers!

If these numbers seem overwhelming and the mere thought of having to keep this at the back of your mind irks you, let’s simplify it a little bit more. The general rule is to “eat clean” or so many have preached; salts and sugars generally cause water retention that gives your body an extra bloated look. It’s always a great way to ease the mind away from number crunching, but achieve results at the same time. I always have advised to try for a 90/10 ratio (90% clean 10% not so clean) or at least a 80/20 ratio (80% clean, 20% not so clean) to keep sane throughout the process.


Here’s a simply trick – pair your protein with a carbohydrate concentrated meal OR pair it with a fat concentrated meal. But, why? Your body either uses carbohydrates or fats as a main fuel source thus why “diets” like the ketogenic diet (fat fueled) or carb cycling (carbohydrate based) work well. The only difference between the two is that carbohydrates are much easier to break down and enter your system to be used as energy, whereas fats take longer to break down and be used as energy. That is also why fats are also strategically used to slow down your release of protein into your body.

I’m sure this is enough food for thought to get you started in the right direction when it comes to nutrition. This may also stir up many questions as well, but feel free to message me via Instagram at @sulaksana with all your inquiries. I would love to help steer you in the right direction to the best of my abilities!

Bottom line – when taking into consideration calories: 1) a 3500 calorie deficit per week will help you lose 1Lb. each week and 2) each gram of protein, carbohydrate and fat equal 4 calories, 4 calories and 9 calories respectively. If this is too overwhelming, move forward with a 90/10 or 80/20 ratio of clean to not-so-clean foods and try pairing your proteins with mainly carbohydrates (while minimalizing fats) or fats (while minimalizing carbohydrates) to help your body maximize its usage of energy.

Stay Tuned for my next piece on “Don’t Fear Trading in Breasts for Pectorals”




 Sulaksana Sabaratnam is a certified personal trainer and weight-loss consultant. She is currently working towards her nutrition manager  (NM) certification. With her passion in fitness and her drive to challenge the limits of her body, Sulaksana also enjoys educating her male  and female clientele who benefit from both, her physical weight training and complementary nutrition knowledge. Through her articles,  she  hopes to help women feel comfortable in the gym atmosphere, invite women to take on strength training to strengthen and accentuate  the  feminine curves and encourage them to ask questions freely. Follow her via Instagram at @sulaksanas for daily inspiration! 

Leave a Reply