Nutrition and Your Goals: 101
fitness and nutrition to the point™
A recomp fitness and nutrition™ post
But first! As goes anything in life, nothing comes easy. Although supplements and techniques may aid you in your journey, nothing happens quick or overnight. Hard work, dedication, and commitment to your goals and your life are the most important.
So as you read this and any of my posts, remember, your fitness and nutrition journey is a life style change and you get out what you put in. The information I provide is based on sound industry standards, scientific research, and experience, and is there to aid you in speeding up your progress.
The information contained in this post is not guaranteed to help you toward your goals as every person is different. Seek medical advice before using any supplementation and/or starting any fitness program.
BUT FIRST, THE BASICS…
Your body runs off glucose which your body makes from the food you eat. Now I’m oversimplifying it, of course you need vitamins, minerals, etc. for your body to make new tissue, transfers electrical signals, and so on, but for simplicity, we burn glucose for energy. The amount of energy we burn is in terms of calories. If you consume foods with more calories than your body needs it keeps it for later as fat. If you use more calories than you consume, your body burns the fat you have stored away. You can calculate the amount of calories you need (Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE) based on your activity using the formula below:
TDEE = BMR X Activity Multiplier
Activity Multiplier = There are lots of variations out there, but from experience they are too high or too simple. I use the following based on the amount of exercise (moderate to vigorous):
Thus someone who weighs 175 pounds with 10% body fat who exercises 1-3 hours a week would have the following numbers:
For most healthy individuals without metabolic disorders like thyroid disease, losing weight is as simple as putting your body in a caloric deficit by either consuming less calories than your burn or moving (exercising) more to burn what you have already consumed. On the flip side, gaining weight is just the opposite.
These numbers are just a start as everyone burns food differently. Play around with them. If you are only losing ½ pound a week, lower your TDEE. If you are losing 4 pounds a week, raise your TDEE.
Just remember (and there is a lot of science and research behind this), the more weight (hopefully fat and not muscle) you lose the harder it is to lose more and the slower your metabolism will slow down. This is why the age old recommendation of losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week is a good guide. Obviously the more you need to lose the more you can lose per week without slowing your metabolism too much.
Again for simplicity sake, all foods are made up of either protein, carbohydrates, and/or fats. And yes, they are related to calories. Each macronutrient is consumed by the body at different rates (basically they contain different amounts of calories). I’m not talking about how the body digests or absorbs each of these (that is for another post), just how many calories each contain which I state below:
Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories per gram. Now this still has variation as some proteins for example, like whey, are easier to digest and burn less calories. Fats have the most caloric load with 9 calories per gram.
Now don’t run out and toss out all your foods with fat. Your body needs fat to survive including the production of hormones and tissues. However, yes fat is more caloric which is why you should consume them in moderation and in balance with proteins and carbohydrates.
Next time you read a label on a packaged food in your kitchen, take the grams of protein and carbohydrates (less fiber) and multiply by 4 and add that to the grams of fat multiplied by 9 and you should come close to the total calories the label says.
Now having said all of that, we can now discuss how meal planning and putting all this together can foster fat loss and/or muscle gain. Let’s see…
As mentioned earlier, to lose fat you must burn more energy than your body uses or consumes. This is a caloric deficit. Although some people may have a harder time losing fat than others, it truly comes down to science; you have to burn more than you have. The true reason most people fail at losing fat is because they are not committed or they are following a plan that is too rigorous and difficult to maintain with a normal lifestyle that includes work, children, friends, etc.
Now, a caloric deficit is a good thing for fat loss but can turn quickly into a bad thing that causes fat loos frustration and giving up on your goals.
You see your caloric deficit must be a moderate to conservative deficit. Anything less and your fat loss journey will be too slow and you may call it quits. Anything too aggressive and your body will fight you by slowing down your metabolism, burning muscle along with fat (catabolic state), emotional changes, and more.
So how large a deficit should you strive for?
I recommend a deficit somewhere between 15% to 25% of your TDEE. For those who need to lose more weight, shoot for 25% to start. Those with little to lose, who might be looking to tone, shoot for 15% (20% max). This should allow you to loose easily between ½ and 2 pounds a week. Without the side effects I mentioned above.
Now fat loss is great, but what about muscle loss? That is not so great. In fact, it is a very bad thing if you want to maintain your fat loss levels.
The more muscle you have, the more calories your body needs to burn to fuel those muscles; even when you are not working out. So the more muscle you have the more you burn even at rest or sleeping. So naturally you want to maintain the muscle you have or even build more muscle.
The problem is, it is a delicate balance. You see your body wants to remain in a balanced state. Thus the less calories you are consuming the more it fights you to preserve or build new muscle. So how then, you ask, do I prevent or minimize muscle loss or even gain muscle while in a caloric deficit? Simple…sort of.
The best way to hold on to that muscle is to do the following:
- Eat more protein! This is important for several reasons.
- Train Heavy! Even if you have your calories and macronutrients spot on, if you don’t perform resistance training, you will NOT build muscle! Period! Heavy resistance training, especially heavy compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, and the like will help you build solid, lean muscle and accelerate your fat loss.
- Eat more healthy fats! Yes they have more calories, but they are critical to maintaining your hormonal balance that allows your body to properly and efficiently burn fat and build muscle. Plus eating more healthy fats keeps you motivated by improving your emotional state! (No, Twinkies do not contain healthy fats)!!!
- Sleep 7 Hours! Sleep if vital to recharging your body both physically and mentally. The stress of operating in a caloric deficit along with heavy exercise will hinder your goals if you do not let it recovery properly. New research has shown that 7 hours a night is the sweet spot for sleep. Anything MORE or LESS is not optimal and has been shown to result in lowered cognitive function and memory.
If you maintain the above components in your lifestyle, your will be on your way to fat loss and looking the way you dream of.
How About Some Carbs?
Carbs…ugh! Well not really.
Yes, I know there are a million diets out there toting how evil carbs are for you, especially when trying to lose weight. Well I’m here to tell you they are flat wrong!
Yes, eating carbs in the form of sugar is bad for you as it has no other benefits besides calories…empty calories. But eating whole grains like oatmeal, pasta, rice and the like are very beneficial to you especially during fat loss. They provide the energy you need to get through your work out and they work hand in hand with the body in the absorption and digestion of proteins.
Study after study has shown that carbohydrate increase during fat loss has no negative effects, especially when you are also eating a high protein diet.
Remember though, where people get into trouble is when they ignore calories, proteins, and fats and consume more carbohydrates than needed willy nilly…that leads to fat gain.
So Now What?
Well I hope the information I presented helps you on your fat loss / cutting nutrition journey. However, if you need help along the way, we can put together a Recomp Nutrition Plan tailored just to you!
What About Supplementation?
So what about it? Do our bodies really need supplements to survive? What about to thrive?
The answer to these questions is no and yes. If you eat a proper diet and get the right nutrients in your body through clean eating of lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, your body can survive. However, I’m sure you’re not reading this because you just want to be average and survive. You want to thrive and change your life and your body and have lots more energy. Thus supplementation.
As I mention on my website, fruits and vegetables grown today have much fewer nutrients then 40 years ago due to farming and production techniques that force pre-mature ripening and harvesting to so produce companies can sell more produce and gain more profits. This means that the apple you are eating today is less nutritious than one you would have eaten 40 years ago.
So yes, supplementation to thrive and supplementation to enhance your performance in the gym!
The following supplements help you burn fat quicker, retain the muscle you have worked hard to build, and allow you to thrive! You can find them in the Recomp Fat Loss Stack!
- HMB. Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methyl Butyrate is derived from Leucine and is a more readily used form by the muscle tissue. HMB has been proven to be more effective than BCAAs in maintaining an anabolic state especially when training fastest because it is a more easily used form. HMB is crucial for those cutting or seeking fat loss while training with heavy weights.
- Fat Burners. There are all sorts of fat burning compounds out there; however, some are more effective and natural than others. Those below are great aiding in burning that extra fat, increasing metabolic speed, and keeping you full longer when at a caloric deficit.
- Synephrine. This component increases your metabolism rate, increases the use and burning of fat for energy, increases fat mobilization, and increases the calories burned from your body digesting and absorbing foods you eat.
- Naringin.This component aids in the breakdown of fat cells and increases fat mobilization in the blood.
- EGCG. Epigallocatechin gallate aids in increasing the breakdown and burning of fat for energy and has also been shown to reduce abdominal fat.
- Forskolin.This component aids in starting a process by which the body will make more ATP, energy used by the muscles, by burning body fat.
- Carnitine. This amino acid aids in the production of ATP, or the energy used by muscle tissue, and the minimizing of fat buildup around the muscle.
- Garcina Cambogia: Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a substance isolated from the exotic fruit Garcinia Cambogia. Supplementation with HCA has been suggested to support appetite control, increases excretion of urinary fat metabolites (a biomarker of fat burning), and boosts fat burning during exercise and enhances glycogen synthesis in muscle that has been exercised. HCA also supports serotonin levels, also known as the pleasure hormone, and is thus especially beneficial for those with carb/sugar cravings, and as an adjunct to low-carb diets.
- Yohimbine: Yohimbine is a strong alpha adrenergic (αAR-2) receptor antagonist and a potent stimulant fat burner, mainly through inhibiting the regulatory process in fat cells, which normally suppresses fat burning. Yohimbine has strong effects on the central nervous system, and can exert a potent stimulant effect through increasing adrenaline levels in the body.
- CLA. Conjugated linoleic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid. CLA has been shown in studies to help in fighting cancer, decreasing body fat, increasing lean muscle tissue, lessen symptoms of asthma, fight high blood pressure and heart disease, enhancing bone density, improving insulin sensitivity, and boosting immunity. Another study also showed that CLA helps to decrease feelings of hunger and increase feelings of fullness.
- Protein. Protein is critical to both muscle building and fat loss but for slightly different reasons. For fat loss, you want to ensure you have enough protein to provide your body to ensure it use the protein you consume not the protein in your muscles when you are in a caloric deficit. You also want to consume more protein to ensure you remain in a positive nitrogen balance and thus an anabolic state. The types of protein and timing are also important, but for a great general fat loss stack protein, I go with a protein blend that offers a longer sustained amount of protein to be absorbed throughout the day and night. You can read more about the different types of protein and benefits here.
Now, a caloric surplus is necessary for muscle gain (unless you have a lot of fat to lose and then it becomes easier to lose fat and gain muscle); however, too large a surplus and you are asking to gain a large amount of fat as well.
You see your caloric surplus, like your caloric deficit for fat loss, must be a moderate surplus. Anything less and your muscle building journey will be too slow or non-existent and you may call it quits or try to exercise too much thinking you can gain more by working more (this will just lead to overtraining). Anything too aggressive and your body will simply add on slabs of fat to go with that muscle.
So how large a surplus should you strive for?
I recommend a surplus somewhere between 5% to 15% of your TDEE. For those with gain fat quickly or want to remain leaner throughout the process, 5% is adequate; however, your muscle building journey will be slower. For those hard gainer and those who build muscle easier than fat, go for 15% (just monitor your progress and cut back if you start gaining too much fat). This should allow you to gain easily between ½ and 1 pounds a week. Now of that, usually 50% is muscle and 50% is fat. This, of course, depends on how much fat you have already and your genetics.
How About Some Carbs?
Carbs again? Yep. This time, you can indulge a bit more.
Carbs help you when you are striving to build muscle in several ways…
- Rebuilds Energy Stores. When you train hard and heavy, you quickly deplete your glycogen stores. Now, you have plenty un reserved, especially if you are not cutting, but a small decrease can show in your lifts and performance in the gym. Proper glycogen stores, or the form of carbohydrates stored in your muscles, also helps you stay in an anabolic state and reduces muscle breakdown.
- Elevates Your Levels of Insulin. Carbohydrates also help you stay in an anabolic state by increasing insulin in your blood which further keeps you in an anabolic state.
The moral is…carbohydrates are need for any fitness plan, but they are especially important when trying to building muscle.
So Now What?
Well I hope the information I presented helps you on your muscle building nutrition journey. However, if you need help along the way, we can put together a Recomp Nutrition Plan tailored just to you!
What About Supplementation?
Just like I mentioned before under Fat Loss, supplementation is necessary for optimal performance and results. Similar to Fat Loss, the following supplements enhance your muscle building journey and allow you to thrive!
- Pre-Workout. Pre-workout supplements are great for preparing your body for the stresses of exercise and aids in giving you an extra edge to push yourself beyond where you thought you could and accelerate fat loss and helping to building muscle. Effective components can include Nitric Oxide Boosters, which naturally increase your body’s production of nitric oxide aiding in dilating your blood vessels allowing more oxygen and nutrients into the muscle cells to aid in performance, Caffeine, which great for boosting energy and aiding in increasing muscle endurance and strength, as well as mental focus, as well as other amino acids and energy and performance enhancers.
- Protein. Protein is critical to both muscle building and fat loss but for slightly different reasons. For muscle building, you want to ensure you have enough protein to provide your body to ensure it will build muscle. The types of protein and timing are also important, but for a great general muscle building stack protein, I go with Whey. You can also use casein protein before bed as it is slow digesting and offers a sustained amount of protein to be absorbed at night. You can read more about the different types of protein and benefits here.
- BCAAs. Branched Chain Amino Acids are comprised of three of the most vital amino acids in the formation and repair of muscle. Leucine, Iso-Leucine, and Valine work together in specific ratios which provide the greatest benefit from these amino acids. Although ratios of these BCAAs range from 2:1:2 to 12:1:1, the higher amount of Leucine has been proven to have the greatest benefit to muscle recovery and the prevention of muscle breakdown. BCAAs are beneficial intra-workout to help prevent muscle breakdown and reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soarness (DOMS).
- Creatine. Creatine is found naturally in your body and many meats (especially red meat). Creatine aids in the creation of ATP, adenosine triphosphate, which provides energy for muscle contractions. It also increases water absorption by cells and allows for more nutrients to enter your cells and helps to build muscle quicker. Creatine also aids in muscular endurance and reduced Delayed Onset Muscle Soarness (DOMS). Like proteins, creatine has been well researched and the claims that high protein intake or creatine damage kidneys has been disproven in study after study.
- Multivitamin: Multivitamins provide a balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that most people lack in some form. Produce grown today are genetically altered to yield larger fruits and vegetables, higher quantities, and quicker growth than in the past. This results in produce that is much less nutritionally dense than our ancestors ate. Because of this, even the most health conscience individual may not be getting all the nutrients they need to thrive. This leads to illnesses and other chronic diseases, not to mention poor athletic performance, slow gym gains, and difficulty in reaching fitness goals. Therefore, taking a multivitamin is important to a healthy life, especial for active individuals.
- Fish Oils: Essential Fatty Acids are essential to the human body but can only be found in a few species of fish. Research suggests fish oil’s fatty acids can assist with heart function, carbohydrate breakdown and joint health. Fish oils also support brain and vision health.
- Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 is the most bioavailable form of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 enhances calcium and phosphorous absorption, stimulates the synthesis of osteocalcin (an important structural protein in bone), supports bone health and supports a healthy immune response
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- Recomp Fitness and Nutrition