Need-to-Know Nutrition Basics
While the average woman might base her eating plan on trying to lose weight, if you compete in bodybuilding or figure competition, your diet focus will often be on gaining weight. In many people, the thirst mechanism is not a reliable measure of when water is needed. Everyone understands the rule of thumb that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that is simply because it is. When I go to the contest I take a MP3 player with my posing music. With proper nutrient timing, muscle mass can often be built with less. Why don't these diets work?
Invite Your Friends
This is ridiculous, and is like saying that because some people can score decent grades on tests without studying, that studying is not important for doing well. As mentioned before, the amount of food consumed at any particular time is an important concept. Similar to calorie needs at any given moment, the body has specific needs for certain macronutrients at any given movement. There are times when carbohydrates are more ideal, and there are times when fats are more ideal. Protein is needed just about all the time, but there are times when even more of it is needed.
Not paying attention to this, and thinking that you are good to go just because you met your macro. Quotas, is another mistake. Consuming Too Few Carbohydrates: Very low carb , or ketogenic diets are a fairly popular method of weight loss.
While people do get results with these types of diets, they are neither necessary, nor ideal for fat loss. Again, something may 'work' for some people. A few people may even get better than average results. But that does not mean it is ideal, or without serious drawbacks. Carbohydrates are crucial for ideal performance in the gym. Having optimum performance is very important for losing fat. Having a certain level of carbohydrates in the body is also important for sparing muscle tissue from catabolism.
A slight reduction of carbs can be beneficial. Carb cycling can be an excellent method, if used intelligently. But drastically reducing carbs yields many more drawbacks than possible benefits. Not Consuming Enough Fats: Even people who understand the importance of fats in the diet sometimes unknowingly reduce fats way too much when cutting.
Therefore, it is important to pay special attention to fat intake to ensure that you are getting the optimal quantity and types of fat. Fats are essential for the production of nearly every hormone, including testosterone. They are important for metabolic function, skin health, immune health, and many other things. Essential fatty acids , especially omega-3 fatty acids, are largely responsible for many of these benefits.
Fish oil , which contains the omega-3 acids DHA and EPA, can provide some outstanding benefits for anyone trying to get the best possible body for summertime. More information on that will be given later. Not Drinking Enough Water: It would be hard to find a bodybuilder who did not know the importance of consuming sufficient amounts of water. However, it would be rather easy to find one who did not actually consume enough.
When effort is not made to drink enough water, it is easy to fall far short of the optimal amount. The biggest reason this happens comes from relying on thirst. In many people, the thirst mechanism is not a reliable measure of when water is needed.
I have had this happen to me in the past, and did not notice until my performance began to drastically drop, and I lost over 8 pounds. As a general rule, your urine should stay clear or a very light yellow. If it starts to significantly darken, it could be a sign of dehydration. Here we will briefly cover the macronutrients, their role in the body, and basic consumption guidelines. Proteins are made up of amino acids , and are used to build nearly every tissue in the body, including muscle.
There are 20 main amino acids, 10 of which are essential amino acids. Essential aminos are ones that cannot be synthesized from other amino acids, and must be supplied in the diet. Therefore, if you are lacking in just 1 essential amino acids, results can be hindered. To ensure that you get all necessary amino acids, consume a variety of protein sources, ideally with one of those being from meat.
Approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is plenty for nearly everyone. For a lb person, this is grams of protein. With proper nutrient timing, muscle mass can often be built with less.
However, slightly higher protein intake offers further benefits for fat loss, including hormonal benefits, increased thermic effect, and better maintenance of muscle mass while on a diet. Carbohydrates are the prime source of fuel for exercise, as well as for the brain and nervous system.
Carbohydrates are used to replenish glycogen stores, which is important for providing the body with a store of glucose. The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human. Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.
Optimally maintaining glycogen stores are important for sparing muscle proteins from breakdown, as well as optimizing performance in the gym. Fatty acids are an essential nutrient in the body. With regards to fat loss, they are especially important for hormonal production, including testosterone and thyroid hormones. They also play roles in protein synthesis, immune system health, skin health, joint health, and much more. Ideally, one should consume most of their fats from certain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources.
Some of the fats can come from saturated sources, but ideally limit this to one-third or less of total fat intake. It can be hard to consume all of your fats from these sources.
Hormones That Influence Fat Loss: You can help to maintain ideal levels by consuming sufficient fats, getting enough rest, and by using certain nutritional supplements which will be discussed later. Insulin is a double-edged sword. It is essential for protein synthesis and facilitating the uptake up nutrients into muscle cells, among many other things.
High levels at certain times are desirable. On the other hand, high levels at the wrong times can lead to increased fat storage. Nutrient timing is key to having optimal levels of insulin at the right times. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which helps to break down fat and muscle into glucose. High levels trigger muscle breakdown much more than fat. High levels can be triggered by physical stress after intense exercise , or by psychological stress.
Glucagon is a catabolic hormone which triggers liver glycogen breakdown, and in come cases, protein breakdown. It can also stimulate the breakdown of lipolysis fat breakdown.
The regular consumption of protein can raise glucagon levels. Maintaining glycogen stores is an important part of minimizing protein conversion into glucose. The body has greater needs for certain nutrients at certain times. In a nutshell, carbs are most beneficial after exercise, while fats are best consumed well before exercise, or several hours after.
Protein is important throughout the entire day, but there is an increased need for it after a workout, certain amino acids in particular. When carbohydrates are consumed, they can either be stored as glycogen or as fat, or burned as energy. The majority of them will either be stored as glycogen or fat. Obviously, we want them to be stored as glycogen, and not as fat.
The timing of carb consumption can make a huge difference. After a workout, muscle sensitivity to carbohydrates is greatly increased. During other times of the day, the muscle cells are less sensitive to carbs, and the fat cells are more sensitive.
Therefore, the optimal time to consume carbohydrates is immediately afterwards, all the way up to 6 hours after. Fast absorbing carbohydrates mixed with a little bit of protein taken minutes before a workout can also help to boost performance and reduce the amount of muscle protein that is broken down.
During the rest of the day, it is best to eat starchy vegetables sweet potatoes, spinach, etc. Do not eliminate them, though. You still need them, just not as much. It is important to consume protein regularly throughout the day. However, there is increased need for it after a workout. Glutamine , and branched chain amino acids leucine, iso-leucine, and valine are particularly important. These amino acids are the most commonly burned during exercise, and as such, are the most depleted.
Leucine in particular, when taken after a workout, can further boost protein synthesis. Fats are very important, but it is also important to eat them at the right time. As a general rule, avoid fats close to the workout period, both before and after.
Avoid them 1 hour or so before exercise, and for 2 hours after exercise. Post workout nutrition is perhaps the most important meal of the day. The timing of it is very important as well. Delaying post workout nutrition by even 30 minutes can significantly reduce its benefits.
It is important to consume both carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible after a workout. After a workout, muscle sensitivity to insulin is greatly heightened. If post workout nutrition is delayed, the muscles can start to become resistant in as little as minutes. However, if post workout nutrition is taken immediately, sensitivity can be maintained for several hours afterwards. Although high levels of insulin can trigger more fat storage, moderate levels to not impede fat oxidation due to an increased metabolic rate.
Protein Synthesis is greatly increased by immediate post workout nutrition. In fact, it can be increased immensely vs. This is not only important for bulking, but also for maintaining muscle mass while cutting. This goes hand in hand with insulin sensitivity. Getting immediate post workout nutrition can increase glucose uptake by as much as 6 times compared to a meal eaten hours later. Efficiently re-synthesizing glycogen will effect recovery, as well as the next day's workout performance.
As you can see, it is important that the nutrient get to the muscle cells as soon as possible. For this reason, liquid meals are ideal. Fast absorbing carbohydrates are also ideal. Maltodextrin is probably the best source, as it is absorbed by the stomach faster than sucrose or dextrose. Whey is the ideal choice for a protein source. Aim to consume about 30 grams of protein, and grams of carbohydrate, or. While this is more important for building muscle, it is also important for a fat loss diet, as it will greatly help to reduce possible muscle loss.
Pre-bed meals should be mostly protein, with a very small amount of carbohydrate, and possibly a very small amount of fat. Whey powder mixed with casein and skim milk is perfect for a bedtime shake. This shake should be lower in overall calories than a post workout shake. Eat More To Burn More: When most people calculate their cutting diet, they subtract a certain amount from what they think is their maintenance level of calories. This is correct, however, choosing an arbitrary number as your 'maintenance level' can be a mistake.
The body's metabolic rate constantly changes. The body becomes more inefficient, and wastes more calories as heat with all of its metabolic processes. The thermic effect of food is also boosted.
This is a large part of a fairly new concept known as the 'metabolic flux'. This metabolic flux is discussed in many of Dr. John Berardi's books and articles. Eating a lot of low-calorie fruits and vegetables is a great way to boost this. By eating more, you burn more total calories, and more fat is burned as a result. All Calories Are Not Equal: You must eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. That is a basic rule. However, that little phrase, 'calories than you burn', is highly modifiable.
Most people make the mistake of setting a fixed number as their 'maintenance' point, and counting all calories towards a set number that a bit below it. As discussed before, when you eat more, you burn more total calories, largely to the metabolism becoming more inefficient.
There is also an increased thermic effect of food. Not all foods are equal when it comes to this important concept. In fact, the difference between some types of calories is huge. Most proteins have a very high thermogenic effect. This means that if you consume calories of protein, the body must burn calories just to digest that.
In an ideal case, those calories would then go to feed your muscle tissue, and you have burned an extra calories. Low-calorie fruits and vegetables such as citrus, watermelon, berries, carrots, etc.
In fact, some types may even cause the body to burn more calories in the digestion than the food itself contains! This is known as the "negative-calorie" effect. There is a bit of controversy on this, but it really does not matter. Combine that with the concept of increasing metabolic flux eat more to burn more , and you have an outstanding food to boost fat loss. Carbohydrates are the fuel for fat burning performance.
By eating more, and exercising more, you can burn more total fat. So before you say to yourself, "My maintenance levels are calories per day," ask yourself how you can make your body burn more overall calories. You still need to eat less than you take in, and you still need to make regular adjustments.
Many of the benefits of this have already been covered. Eat meals every hours. All meals should contain protein and some form of carbohydrate. The types of carbs which are best were covered in the previous section.
Meals that are not close to the workout period should contain small amounts of good fats. A cheat meal once per week is perfectly acceptable. It is important, though, to cheat with food types, rather than excess calories.
This means that you can have some chips, some sweets, or some beer. But you still need to stay within the same calorie ranges. Binging with extra calories of junk food can cancel out several days-worth of hard work.
However, if you do not feel the need, or do not want to eat cheat foods, then it is fine to stay on your diet 7 days per week. I am not going to list specific food types.
This diet plan will be based on a template, which you can fill in with the foods that are most preferable, or practical, as long as they meet the conditions listed. There is simply no need to create a different plan for every day of the week, or to list specific food types.
Except for a few cases, there really are no best foods. Naming specific foods will not increase the quality of the diet; it will just show which foods I would personally prefer. Workout days will require more carbohydrates, while non-workout days will require less.
The fruits and vegetables listed can, and should be eaten frequently barring pre and post workout. The ones listed do not need to be counted towards total calories or carbohydrates. I am sure some of you reading this are screaming "Of course they do!!! These lists are just to give you a general idea.
Choices which contain higher amounts of calories such as bananas or avocados need to be counted as part of the daily calories. Use the following formula: This gives us calories as our "BMR". These ratios are only a guideline, and are not set in stone. Nutrient timing is much more important than overall ratios.
A Basic Diet Template: Fish oil will support a healthy metabolism. It also provides a host of other health benefits. Get a good quality multivitamin , or a greens powder supplement.
It will cause some water retention in the muscles, so discontinue using it weeks before you plan on going to the beach. Whey is a must for post workout shakes. It is also beneficial when taken occasionally throughout the day, as it can help boost protein synthesis due to its fast absorption. Would It Work For Everyone? The benefits of following the strategies I have listed in the start of the article are numerous.
They will help to increase performance, recovery , and fat loss. The nutrient timing strategies that the template uses will maximize the utilization of carbs, and minimize fat storage. All of these principles are based on solid scientific principles, and are practiced be experts such as Dr. These principles will work for everyone, and the diet template given will work for just anyone trying to achieve a better body.
Take what you have learned and use to get into lean shape for this coming summer! Ever spent an entire bulking or cutting cycle eating what you thought was the proper nutrition, only to look back six months and realize nothing much has changed? It happens to millions of people each year.
It's what causes people to lose motivation in their workout and diet plan. This affects more than bodybuilders, it affects overweight people just trying to lose weight and skinny people just trying to put on a few pounds of muscle.
It happens to men and women of all ages, race, cultures, and nationality. In the world's culture, it's nearly a unified opinion that a fit person is an attractive person.
So if being fit is such a positive accomplishment, then why is good dieting such a mystery? Furthermore, summer is approaching and we all want to look good for those times at the beach, pool, or just working around the house.
Whether you've began dieting for the summer or not, a change can always be made and yes, results can be seen before summer starts. That's where this article begins. With only eight weeks to spare before it's time sport that swimming suit, we want to shape up our diet. We want to form eating habits that will improve our looks for the summer and beyond.
Whether you are a man looking to walk down the beach with tight abs, a woman wanting to look good in a two-piece bathing suit, or a thin person looking to add a few pounds of muscle to their frame, all these dieting questions will be answered in this article. If you had to get in a swimming suit at this very moment, what about your body would make you most hesitant to do so? Do you carry more body fat than what you feel is comfortable?
Are you too skinny and wish you had a few pounds more muscle to look fuller? Maybe it's a bit of both; nevertheless choose one that makes you most hesitant to wear a swimming suit. If body fat makes you most insecure, you'd follow a cutting diet.
If muscle mass makes you most insecure, you'd follow a bulking diet. Although a bulking diet differs from a cutting diet, the fundamentals are the same Let's first start with a cutting diet and the bulking diet will follow. So you've decided to shed some body fat before the summer. Great, your body and mind will thank you for it. The first order of business is to determine how many calories you need to consume a day to lose weight.
To do this click on this link and enter your stats. Now the number you've gotten from the calculator is the approximate number of calories you need per day to maintain your current weight. So you're going to subtract a certain amount of calories from that number to get your weight loss amount. The number of calories subtracted will depend on your goal.
The more calories cut from your daily intake, the more weight you'll lose. Now this includes both body fat and muscle. Is this bad news?
You'll start losing less body fat and more muscle. I've added a chart below where you can choose your weight loss goal plus the approximate weight loss in eight weeks. It ranges from calories to calories cut per day. Note the approximate weight loss is calculated from being a deficit of calories and does not include water weight; something heavier people will lose faster than a lighter person. Note a substantial amount above a calorie deficit is inefficient and may cause your body to go into starvation mode, meaning it uses muscle as energy and stores fat.
We all want to lose weight fast, but starving yourself isn't the way to get it done, so stay at a maximum of a calorie deficit. After choosing which category best suits you, subtract that amount from the amount of your daily maintenance the amount calculated from the link above. The number you get is your target calorie consumption, the amount of calories you need to consume daily to lose weight.
Alright now it's time to learn how to use those calories per day. After all if calories per day is your target, you cannot wake up in the morning and consume calories and nothing else for the day. Your meals need to be evenly balanced throughout the day. Many people eat like birds in the morning and like wild beasts at night. This isn't the way to balance your meals; your body needs nutrition throughout the day.
We are raised thinking we only need a meal three times a day, breakfast, lunch, and supper. This is not the case however, your body can and will use nutrients every hours. Your body receives this huge portion of food and starts breaking it down for nutrients. After the body has extracted and replenished what nutrients it needed or so calories , the remaining calories are excreted or stored as fat. This is why people gain weight so easily, they starve their body for 6 hours then load it up at once with more food than it can handle.
Thus you want to eat a meal every 2 to 3 hours, totaling meals a day. So divide your target calorie consumption by the amount of meals you will eat per day. If your target was and you plan on eating 6 meals a day, you'll get a total of calories per meal. Now you aren't expected to consume exactly calories per meal, that'd be overkill even for a hardcore bodybuilder. That's just the number you aim for each meal, eating over or under a bit is alright.
Now that you understand how to portion your meals to lose body fat, the next step is learning exactly what to eat. This will be discussed following the bulking diet. For now it's time to discuss how to form a diet for bulking. You've come to the conclusion that you're too thin and need to add a few pounds of muscle to your frame.
Ok great, let's go over how you need to eat to put some muscle mass on. The first thing to do is to determine how many calories you need to consume a day to gain weight. To do this click on this link and enter your stats:. So you're going to add a certain amount of calories to that number to get your weight gain amount. The number of calories added will depend on your goal.
The more calories added from your daily intake, the more weight you'll gain. Yes gaining only muscle would be nice; however the fat will tag along. It's your job to regulate how much fat you'll gain during these eight weeks of bulking though. If you bulk slowly, you'll gain less weight per week however you'll put on the least body fat. The faster you bulk the more muscle you'll gain however body fat gains will also raise, and they'll rise faster than muscle gains.
I've added a chart below where you can choose your weight gain goal. It ranges from calories to calories added per day. Note the approximate weight gain is calculated from a surplus of calories and does not include water weight gain, something which can be influenced from various factors such as sodium and creatine intake. Be sure not to over exceed calories added per day. You'll come to a point where you cannot gain any more muscle per week, only adding body fat.
After choosing which category best suits you, add that amount to the amount of your daily maintenance the amount calculated from the link above. The number you get is your target calorie consumption, the amount of calories you need to consume daily to gain weight. Now it's time to learn how to consume these calories per day. After all if calories per day is your target, you cannot go crazy at McDonald's and eat calories in one sitting and be done for the day.
Here's an example, say you only eat three times a day. By lunchtime you're pretty hungry and could consume a meal of calories about the amount of a burger, fries, and soft drink. Alright now you know how to separate these meals throughout the day, now I'm going to go over what actually to eat. I'll start with the three basic types of calorie: Even though this name may sound bad, it's really not.
Eating fat will not make you fat. It's the consuming of too many calories that makes you fat. The fat found in foods is used by your body to maintain healthy skin, hair, and to digest vitamins.
There are good and bad types of fat. For the most part saturated fats aren't good for you. These include animal fat, butter, and cooking oils such as peanut oil and coconut oil. On the other hand unsaturated fats are good for you in reasonable portions. Regardless of how carb heavy your diet is, your body can only store about two days of glycogen. And once they transformed to fat, they can never convert back to glycogen.
Easy, you can purchase these inexpensive Smackfat Ketone Strips to accurately measure the ketone levels in your urine. That depends on who you ask. There are certainly experts who think that a ketogenic diet is too extreme for the general population to follow without the guidance of a physician.
Some of them claim that various organs within the body prefer carb metabolism over fat metabolism. Others dispute that claim and go further to point out that we evolved as a species to rely primarily on fat metabolism for energy. And they point out that the organs that do require glycogen rather than ketones are able to metabolize protein for that energy.
Many of the vitamins and minerals needed to keep you healthy come from carb-containing foods. So finding the ones that maximize those nutrients and minimize net carbs is your new mission… should you chose to accept it. Switching to a ketogenic diet can come with several side effects. Fortunately, most of the commons ones are as minor as they are short lived. When you first cut off your carbs and enter dietary ketosis you are likely to experience flu-like symptoms: These symptoms should go away within a week.
And increasing your water intake above the normally recommended eight cups a day may help speed things up. But you and those around you may notice your breath smelling like overly ripe apples as you adjust to ketosis. Early on in your transition to a keto diet most of the weight you lose is water weight.
As this happens you also lose electrolytes and this can lead to a few choice words in the middle of the night as you jump out of bed in pain! If you find it difficult to get them in the foods you eat on a keto diet, not to worry. To get back to regular you, drink lots of water and get plenty of high fiber, low net carb foods.
One cup of cooked collard greens, for example, has 11 grams of carbs, but 8 of them are fiber grams. So the 3 grams of net carbs will fit nicely into your daily carb limit.
Some people experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of their heart beat when becoming keto adapted.
Like the other common side effects, this one is normally short lived and subsides on its own, but there are things you can do to help. First, this particular side effect has multiple causes. One, like with so many of the others, is dehydration that results in an electrolyte imbalance.
To fix, take in more calcium, magnesium, and potassium. However, you may have a more general nutrient deficiency due to becoming too reliant on too few foods. A good multivitamin can help with that as you increase your knowledge of what you can eat on a keto diet.
Finally, some people find that ingesting too many medium chain triglyceride MCT foods such as coconut oil or palm kernel oil can cause their heart to race. General studies on the long term effectiveness and problems associated with a keto diet have been favorable. But most have been 12 to week studies. And longer term ketogenic diet studies have been aimed at special populations, such as epilepsy patients.
So it may be some time before we have large, general-population long-term studies to guide us. So you tell us! The differences between them mainly have to do with the timing and amount of carb intake, based on your activity type and level as well as your individual weight loss goals.
TKD is for those who care equally about burning fat and gaining muscle mass. It tends to work well for those who engage in intense exercise where fast-burning carbs are needed to supply the necessary energy for sprinting, intense strength training, and high intensity interval training. The Goldilocks of the keto diets.
It allows you to stay in a state of ketosis most of the time, reaping its fat burning benefits, with brief periods of carb loading prior to exercise to get the most out of your training. Most people take in up to 50 grams of highly digestible carbs 30 minutes before they exercise. The idea is to take in only the carbs you need to fuel your high intensity energy needs, and no more since those leftover carbs only delay your return to ketosis.
CKD is for serious bodybuilders. A version of the keto diet where you are following a high fat, high protein, low carb diet days a week and a low fat, high protein, high carb diet days a week. This refeeding of carbs enables you to work out more intensely to maximize muscle gains. And for those who find it hard to cut carbs out of their lives, it provides a real break from their carb restriction that may help them stick with the diet longer.
Like with TKD, it takes trial and error to get the timing and amount of carbs right. A keto diet is definitel low in carbohydrates… extremely low. But the distinctions go beyond carb intake.
With a low-carb diet, the goal is a less ambitious one to take your carbs down to a level required to fuel your energy needs, and no more. You can lose weight under both diets. Fewer carbs without increases in your protein and fat intake equals fewer calories, and that leads to weight loss.
Because just like with carbs, your body can break down protein into glucose. And even if your carb levels are low enough to otherwise induce ketosis, your body will first look for protein it can metabolize into glucose before switching its metabolism pathway. The point is they have very different goals. A keto diet is all about maintaining precise control over the specific macro percentages for the carbs, fat, and protein in the foods you eat.
However, the following infographic gives you a general comparison between the two diets in terms of where they overlap and where the differ:. The premise is a simple one: Much more likely to die from starvation than obesity.
So we should just eat what they ate… lots of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The ketogenic diet, on the other hand, acknowledges the technology of our times and encourages people to use it to precisely adhere to the macronutrient ratios proven to maximize fat loss in a carb-laden world.
Or maybe waistland is more appropriate. You just need a plan. And that plan starts with looking at your local grocery store through the lens of a ketogenic diet.
Below is a color-coded chart that simplifies looking at common foods in terms of both their fat and carb content.