Unfortunately, there is a whole lot of confusion and misconceptions over what actually matters when it comes to nutrition - specifically when talking about fat loss, muscle growth and overall physique goals. For a lot of people, lack of results (or ideal results) is nothing to do with a lack of effort, but instead comes down to prioritizing the wrong things and/or completely missing aspects that are absolutely critical towards success.
I get a ton of questions from clients and followers who ask me what supplements they should take or how many meals they should eat in a day. My first question is always "What are your goals and how many calories are you consuming daily/weekly?". In most cases, they'll have no answer to the second part of the question. I'll then tell them not to worry about anything else until they've determined their energy requirements and have been consistent with them for at least a month.
It's not the sexy answer but it's the no BS answer. Without taking care of the things that matter most first, everything else is completely irrelevant. So, lets get into the Pyramid of Importance, starting from the most important (bottom) and moving up to the less important (but still influential).
This is the most important aspect when it comes to any body composition goal and the base of the pyramid. Calories trump everything else.
If you want to lose weight, get lean and lose the belly, you must be in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you’re consuming or consuming less calories than your body requires to maintain its weight).
If you want to gain weight, add more muscle and get stronger, then you must be in a calorie surplus (consuming more calories than you’re burning or consuming more calories than your body requires to maintain its weight).
No matter which path you decide to go down, ensure you’re progressing slow. If you’re losing or gaining lots of weight fairly rapidly, it’s probably a good idea to slow things down a bit. Generally, I recommend aiming between 0.5-2.0lbs when in a fat loss phase (the leaner you are the lower you should be on that spectrum & vice versa), and between 0.3-1.0lbs gain when in a growth phase (aiming for the lower end if you're not in a rush and/or want to keep fat gain to a minimum).
For example, lets say you've determined your fat loss calories to be 2200 with 180g of protein and 60g of fat you'd have accounted for 1260 calories (refer to the table below if you're confused). That means you'd have 940 calories leftover. Therefore, your carb intake would be 235g.
When it comes to water, there is no universal amount that one should consume on a daily basis. Factors like gender, weight, training frequency/intensity, calorie intake, climate, etc all effect how much should be consumed. Nonetheless, water plays a big role in fat loss/leanness and performance.
Water is a transporter, meaning it helps shuttle important nutrients through our bodies. Inadequate amounts will make it hard for these nutrients to reach our desired destinations. Think about muscle growth - even with adequate protein intake, there's a strong likelihood that protein won't reach our muscles if water intake is insufficient.
In addition, if water intake is too low, there's a good chance you'll actually retain more water, leading to excess bloating and inflammation. Not a good look if you're wanting to impress with your tarp off.
I generally recommend males aiming between 4-6 litres per day and females between 3-5 litres (higher end if you're bigger and/or sweat a lot from training output or climate).
Check the color of your pee. If its clear, you're good. If it's yellow drink more. If its anything else, a doctor visit is in order..
People lose their minds for any shortcut to losing weight, building muscle or getting shredded; and marketers take advantage of this to sell us on something new. Meal timing and frequency is no different.
The truth: Getting the timing of things right has favorable effects on body composition, however, if you skip over the most impactful, foundation levels of your nutrition plan (calorie intake, the macro composition, and micronutrition) you are wasting your time, money and effort.
Any time someone presents you the nutritional importance pyramid upside-down, run for the hills.
Your goals, calorie intake, lifestyle and personal preference should all play a big role on the amount of meals you should consume on a daily basis. Generally, I suggest consuming no less than 3 protein based meals per day. Here are some points to consider:
Nutrient timing and macronutrient partitioning can also play a big role on body composition and performance (if the previous 3 points have been nailed down), especially when used around your training sessions.
As covered in Point #2, carbohydrates play important roles in energy and protein synthesis, while protein encourages muscle growth. Therefore, consuming a minimum amount of carbs and protein before/after our workouts will benefit both of those. Of course the amount will vary depending on the amount you have to work with on a daily basis. Here are some key points to consider:
Ahh good old supplements. As you can see from the pyramid diagram at the top, the supplement level takes up the very small point at the top. That's not a mistake. Contrary to popular belief from the general public or casual gym-goer, supplements are not required and do not make or break progress or performance. Here's the real, short & sweet low-down on suppies:
Unfortunately, supplement companies have done an incredible job in leading you to believe the only way you can get ripped and shredded is by taking their supplements. "Take this fat-burner and you'll shed 5lbs in the first week!".... Don't fall for this garbage. Do your research and decide whether or not you actually NEED it. Most times, the answer will be no.
However, there are a few supplements that are beneficial for those who have certain medical restraints and thus are unable to get enough of a specific nutrient, or advanced trainees looking for another inch.
Don't get fooled into buying unnecessary supplements thinking they're the one thing keeping you from your desired physique, especially if you haven't taken care of the previous 4 points in the pyramid. If you're just starting out, start from the very bottom and stay consistent with it. Only then should you move up into the next tier. Keep the focus as narrow as possible. This will increase adherence in the short and long term, while allowing you to get to where you want to be faster and much more efficiently.
If you have any questions or comments, pop them below.
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