Nutrition is the biggest part of the equation when it comes to making progress in the gym.
You can be training hard and supplementing right but without a good eating plan and quality food sources you're efforts may be wasted.
Eating smart can dramatically enhance your progress and help you perform better in training for even greater benefits.
We've all heard the saying "you are what you eat" and this couldn't be more true when it comes to making changes in your body.
Let's break down the basics you'll need to put together a diet plan.
The Big Three:Macronutrients
There are three macronutrients:
That is also the order of their importance. Water should be a given and we all should drink a bare minimum of 2 litres a day but if you're exercising this number should be more like 3-6 litres.
This is the most important of the macronutrients as it cannot be stored in the body and needs to be taken in daily.
Our body is made from cells and the bulk of the cell is made up of amino acids which comes from protein.
Protein is responsible for the repair and generation of all cells in the body. This is not only muscle but other tissues such as your hair and skin.
Protein sources:We would recommend eating the majority of your protein intake from animal sources/by products (such as protein powder/dairy) as these are complete sources and contain all the essential amino acids.
- Lean meats:steak,pork kangaroo
- Poultry:chicken & turkey
- Seafood: fish,prawns,scallops etc
- Protein Powder: whey,egg,casein
- Plants: nuts,soy,lentils,beans
Research suggests the ideal amount of protein is 2-2.5gm/kg bodyweight per day.
Fats: Not as Bad as You May Think
There are a number of groups of fats: monounsaturated,polyunsaturated,saturated and trans fats.
Each of these play a vital role and are all essential for healthy bodily function.
Fatty acids form the remaining portion of cells along with protein and also play a vital role in hormone regulation.
The ones we look to limit the intake are of saturated and in particular trans fats.
These are present in animal protein sources which is why we like to choose primarily lean cuts of meat.
Mono/polyunsaturated fats are the ones we are looking for which are excellent for brain/heart health as well as metabolic health.
- Whole eggs/egg yolks
- Nuts (raw,uncooked)
- Fatty fish (salmon,tuna,sea bass etc.)
- Oils (olive oil,macadamia nut oil
Fats contain more than twice the calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates so it's important to keep them in check to avoid overloading calories.
These will be kept and 1gm/kg bodyweight during the program with the majority coming from healthy fats.
Carbohydrates: Fuel for Performance
Carbohydrates are the only non-essential macronutrient meaning your body can function just fine without any of them at all.
That being said some carbohydrates can be beneficial for performance and digestion.
These are the ideal energy source of the body as they're easy to digest and utilise as ATP (energy) to fuel activity and brain function.
To ensure we get enough micronutrients & fibre it's ideal to eat the bulk of your carbohydrates from low GI sources.
- Potatoes (white,red,sweet
- Rice (brown,basmati,jasmine,white)
- Breads (multi-grain,whole grain preferred)
Post-workout is the only time when fast-acting carbohydrate sources are ideal (this will be covered in a later article).
Tracking Your Numbers
The most important factor by far is not actually the quality of the sources, but the quantity. With this in mind we'd highly recommend downloading MyFitnessPal.
This is a free calorie/macro tracking app which takes the guess work out and makes it easy to track your food and hit your numbers daily.
Setting Up Your Plan
Protein will be set at 2.5gm/kg bodyweight. Let's take a 100kg male as an example. He will need to eat 250gm protein per day.
Fats will be set at 1gm/kg bodyweight so our model will need 100gm fat per day. This will be made up primarily of added,healthy fats but will also include some trace fats in the protein sources.
Carbohydrates: This can vary quite a bit dependent on your metabolic rate/activity level.
For those of you looking to lose body fat with slower metabolic rates 1-2gm/kg body weight is a great place to start.
For the harder gainers you would be best to start at 4gm/kg bodyweight and add as needed.
Check out the next instalment on supplements.