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Nutrition for Life

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(with a lot of help from Dr. Mike T. Nelson)

The most common goals in any gym are to lose a few pounds, gain some muscle, and look/feel better.

There are seemingly endless resources and “get ripped quick” schemes. I recently sat down with one of the leading minds in the Exercise Physiology world, Dr. Mike T. Nelson,  to wade through the madness and figure out what actually works. This post outlines an easy to follow (and very effective plan) to shed those unwanted pounds without losing any of those hard fought for #gainz.

First off, you must know what goes into your body. All food is made up of 3 macronutrients: Protein, Carbs, and Fat.

Any successful weight loss effort begins with understanding how much of each macronutrient we consume on a daily basis.

The best app for tracking macro consumption is MyFitnessPal. It’s a free app you can download and has a HUGE database of pretty much every food.

For 1 week, put everything you eat into this app and look at the “macronutrient” breakdown of what you’re eating.

The app will generate a report that looks like this:

Now that you have a way of knowing what goes into your body, it’s time to create macronutrient targets:

Protein:

Protein is the only macronutrient that will vary depending on your body weight. Simply put, protein is the building block of most things in your body – if you have more “body” you need more protein.

Take your body weight (in pounds) and multiply it by 0.7. This will give you the total number of protein grams per day that you should be consuming.

If you’re a larger, stronger, or more active person, then use your body weight in grams as your macro target for protein.

For example, if you weight 200 lbs, your protein target will be between 140 and 200 grams of protein per day.

Examples of good protein: steak, pork, chicken, fish, and eggs. A decent vegetarian option for protein is fermented tofu.

Fat: 

Fat is a vital energy source that your body cannot live without. Fat is vital for hormone creation

Everyone (regardless of weight, activity level, muscle mass, etc…) should set their fat macro target between 50 – 70 grams of fat per day.

Good sources of fat: animal fat (lard, tallow, etc…), olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, avocados, butter, cream, and ghee.

Avoid all Trans-fats (i.e. vegetable oil, corn oil, vegetable shortening, margarine, etc..)

Carbs:

Carbs are a vital source of energy and micronutrients. They’re delicious and important, but can easily be overeaten. Carbs are the main fuel source for CrossFit/HIIT types of workouts.

Set your carb target to 120 grams per day on your non-weight training/CrossFit days. The bulk of these carbs should be veggies with some fruit.

On days when you workout, add in an additional 50 g of carbs before and after your workout. Your pre/post workout “bonus” carbs should be more starchy (i.e. potatoes, rice, etc…) if possible. This should bring your total carb intake to 200-220 grams per day on your CrossFit/weight lifting days.

That’s it! (In order to get started moving in the right direction.)

That’s the secret to weight loss. Here’s a recap:

Step #1: Track your macros with MyFitnessPal

Step #2: Set your macro targets as follows:

Protein (in grams) = Body weight (in lbs) * 0.7.

Fat = 50 – 70 grams.

Carbs = 120 grams on non-workout days + 50 grams extra before and after your workout.

Step #3: Assess and tweak.

This is the most important step. It’s vitally important to realize that food is the fuel for your life. No “diet” is sustainable if it causes you to be lethargic, makes you feel like crap, and doesn’t properly fuel your workouts.

Each day and week you should set aside some time to look through your food log and see how you did. Are you consistently undereating protein? Are you overeating fat or carbs? Are you performing well in the gym? Does your brain feel foggy?

After assessing your trends, make corrections for the following day and week. Add in more protein for breakfast, adjust your fat intake, then monitor how that affects how you feel and perform.

Every week or so, jump on the scale and see if you’re making progress towards weight loss.

If you’re hitting your macro targets every day, but you’re not seeing the body composition results you’re after, there might be issues with your stress or sleep. Talk to your coach and stay tuned for more information about that…

Happy tracking.