Okay, so I currently weigh 122 lbs, and I'm 5'7". But I'm sort of... Skinny fat. I do have muscle, but it's not really visible anywhere except on my calves. I have heard Robb Wolf talk about the importance of calories in versus calories out, despite how most paleo foods are thermogenic. So I'm just wondering, approx. how many calories should I be consuming at sixteen years old to effectively burn fat, while also building muscle? And how much of my diet should be made up by protein?
If you don't think I should count calories, explain why :)
Sadly, even if you do count calories it won't be effective to change "skinny fat." You'll just get "skinny but not fat." Not a good look, believe me.
Here are some things to think about:
Eat healthy, be active (with a moderate, sensible exercise program) and good things will happen--but not overnight.
Don't count calories. Reason? Your young, active, and have never been overweight (from what I understand). You should be focusing on the quality of your foods first and foremost. Make sure you eat enough protein (about 1g/lb of lean mass, so up to or around 120 grams/day), and let the rest fall into place. Eat when your hungry and stop when your satisfied. Counting calories is a technique some are "forced" to utilize, but you shouldn't have to.
Good for you for getting an early start (earlier than most on the PH site, at least) on actively managing the foods you choose to eat. However, at 16 years old, I wouldn't worry so much about "calories in versus calories out" and risk becoming overly focused on the issue or even developing an eating disorder. Eat the foods prescribed in your Paleo challenge and eat to satiety and you will be fine. Be active. Walk. Lift a few weights, if you like. Team sports are great at your age if you have interest. Be young, enjoy it, and do the right thing most of the time with respect to your diet.
Wow ... what I would give to be in my teens and finding paleo! I envy you ;).
That said, I agree with the comments to say that you shouldn't worry about calories. What I'd like to add is that I think following Mark Sisson's recommendations for fitness would be a great strategy:
Move Frequently at a Slow Pace strengthens the cardiovascular and immune systems, promotes efficient fat metabolism and gives you a strong base to handle more intense workouts.
Lift Heavy Things stimulates lean muscle development, improves organ reserve, accelerates fat loss, and increases energy.
Sprint Once in a While stimulates the production of HGH and testosterone, which help improve overall fitness and delay the aging process – without the burnout risk of excessive prolonged workouts.
Try and avoid falling into the chronic cardio trap! Or as the Dos Equis guy says: "running in place will never get you the same results as running from a lion" ;).
Being a petite woman who used to be skinny fat and has leaned out and built muscle (started at 25%bf===> 13% at one point ---> recently crept up to around 16-18%), I can say that it takes A LOT of weight training to maintain the upper body muscle tone that I want. I never understand why some women are so afraid of weight training because they are afraid of 'bulking up' really easily. I find that the moment I deviate from 3-4x biceps/shoulder training sessions per week of lifting HEAVY compard to the other women in the gym, my muscles start to get noticeably smaller! I can't say for lower body because while i go for tightness, I don't desire much definitition in my legs.
If you've got the time and like geeking-out on numbers, by all means count calories, count everything.
Also, be forewarned: burning fat and building muscle don't go hand in hand. The former needs energy deficit, the latter needs energy surplus.
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