Updated: Sep 2
What’s up everyone, Benjamin here! Today I’ll be discussing nutrition, and the importance of it when it comes to training, and overall health in general.
Macronutrients and Calories:
First, let’s look at macronutrients and calories. A calorie is a unit of measurement — but it doesn't measure weight or length. A calorie is a unit of energy. When you hear something contains 100 calories, it's a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking it.
It’s also important to understand how the caloric value of foods and drinks are derived from. The value will always and only stem the following: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats - These are your “macronutrients”. One gram of carbohydrate yields 4 calories, one gram of protein yields 4 calories as well, and one gram of fat yields 9 calories. With that being said, let’s look at the nutritional facts for one large egg. It yields 70 calories, made up of 5g fat, 0g carbs, and 6g protein. When we look at the information above, we can see where the 70 calories come from! 5g fat (9 cals per 1g fat x 5 = 45 cals) + 6g protein (4 cals per 1g protein x 6 = 24 cals) = 69 calories, rounded up to 70!
Each macronutrient has a specific and vital role in helping the human body function and we need all three of them.
Carbs: The body’s preferred fuel source. Broken down to glucose and used to supply energy to cells. We use glucose throughout the day to move and when working out.
Fats: People might try to avoid fat in their diets, but dietary fat plays an important role in the body. Fat provides an important source of energy in times of starvation or caloric deprivation. It is also necessary for insulation, proper cell function, and protection of our vital organs.
Proteins: Provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks for muscle and other important structures such as the brain, nervous system, blood, skin, and hair. Protein also transports oxygen and other important nutrients. In the absence of glucose or carbohydrate, the body can reverse-process protein (a conversion called gluconeogenesis) to use as energy.
Another point I want to touch on is that not one specific macronutrient makes you gain weight faster than the others. Consuming too many carbs or fats doesn’t make you automatically gain weight, OVEREATING / CONSUMING TOO MANY CALORIES DOES!! Certain foods don’t automatically make you fat either, they might just be more calorically dense than others - like pizza and hamburgers. Also, you can still gain weight if you’re eating “clean and healthy foods”!
For example, I could overeat on brown rice, broccoli, and chicken breast and still gain weight if I eat over my maintenance calories. Eating at maintenance calories is eating a specific number of calories to hypothetically not gain or lose weight. This is dependent on how active you are throughout your day job, current muscle mass, current body fat mass, and weekly exercise volume. To gain weight, you must be consuming over maintenance calories, and to lose weight, you must eat below maintenance calories. There are many calculators online that could give you a good ballpark of your maintenance calories, however most of them are just rough estimates and aren’t completely accurate. If you want to determine your maintenance calories without using fancy calculators or equations, the best thing to do is track your intake every day for 10-14 days and track your body weight over that time period. If you gain weight, you’ll know you need to eat less. If you lose weight, you’ll need to eat more. Generally 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week is a healthy pace. Also, it takes roughly 3,500 calories to shed 1 lb of body fat (between exercising and diet). Good things take time, be consistent!
Let’s talk about food choices and which foods you should aim to eat. When dieting, fueling your body with the correct nutrients is important to your fitness journey! Think about your body as a car, and food as gas. Putting in low quality gas will not take you very far, nor will it help you run smoothly.
Supplementing your exercise with an efficient diet will take your efforts in the gym to the next level. When dieting, prioritize protein, fiber, healthy fats, and clean whole carbohydrate sources.
REMEMBER - CARBS DO NOT MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT AUTOMATICALLY - OVEREATING DOES!
Try to stick to whole foods with single list ingredients for each macronutrient source, protein, carbs, and fats. Examples are but not limited to: brown rice, chicken breast, turkey breast, ground turkey, ground beef, greek yogurt (2% or fat free, low sugar. Brands I recommended are Oikos triple zero or Fage 0% or 2% Fat!), white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggs, egg whites, asparagus, broccoli, fruit, almonds, olive oil, grape-seed oil, coconut oil, avocado, spinach, kale, etc!
Stay away from high processed, high sugar products with long ingredient names containing 5-30+ ingredients. For flavoring, stick with low calorie choices like sugar free BBQ sauce, fat free salad dressings, hot sauce, minced garlic, salt + pepper, mustard, and Ketchup in moderation. You’ll feel incredibly better and your body will thank you!
Dieting can be intimidating at first, but once you have a general blueprint and put together a list of foods that you enjoy + that are healthy, you’ll be cruising along. Aim for 3-4 meals a day, but MAKE SURE each meal has a serving of protein in it. Try to consume at least 0.8 g - 1.0 g of protein per your body weight.
Try to include a serving of greens per day, along with a serving of fibrous fruit! Both will provide you with important micro nutrients (vitamins + minerals) to keep your body running at top notch and make you feel satisfied with improved digestion from the amount of fiber that both provide. I like to include fruit and salads w/ a protein source and fat free dressing frequently in my diet.
When dieting, not everyone is going to be able to carefully weigh their food. It definitely isn't for everyone, so with that being said I will give you some tips to diet without doing so!
PORTION CONTROL! Start every meal with a glass of water. This will help fill you up and prevent overeating. Also, a rough guide for each meal is:
Vegetables or salad: Half a plate
High-quality protein: Quarter of a plate — this includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans and pulses
Complex carbs: Quarter of a plate — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
High-fat foods: Half a tablespoon (7 grams) — including cheese, oils and butter
Another way to gauge appropriate portion size without any measuring tools is by simply using your hands. As your hands usually correspond to your body size, bigger people who require more food typically have bigger hands
A rough guide for each meal is:
High-protein foods: A palm-sized serving for women and two palm-sized portions for men — such as meat, fish, poultry and beans
Vegetables and salads: A fist-sized portion for women and two fist-sized portions for men
High-carb foods: One cupped-hand portion for women and two for men — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
High-fat foods: One thumb-sized portion for women and two for men — such as butter, oils and nuts
Moderation! Give yourself a diet break / cheat meal every 2 weeks to help you both physiologically and physically.
Don’t drink any calories! No sodas, juices, etc. Stick to water or sparkling water.
DRINK 2 GLASSES OF WATER UPON WAKING + A TON THROUGHOUT THE DAY! Most people don’t drink enough water everyday, especially when dieting. This was one of my first mistakes when dieting to lose weight a few years back. It can help you stay and feel full longer and just overall make you feel amazing.
Caffeine: Proven to help exercise performance and blunt appetite. Feel free to utilize coffee! Stick to stevia with black coffee / no sugar. Small amounts of low calorie almond milk as creamer!
That's all for now, until next time!