You’ve probably gathered this already, but the world of nutrition can be overwhelming. It truly is a crying shame as if people understood how easy it COULD be, then so many more of you could be where you want to be today. There are SO many variables to nutrition that most people don’t know where to start. Look at it as an equation, if the equation equals body composition then some of the variables within will contribute more, some less.
Straight up, when you’re participating ni an Intense a sport as CrossFit, or even just looking for simple body composition goals (weight loss/gain), the most weighted priorities need some attention before ever focussing on more advanced nutrition techniques!
Hang in there though, there’s hardly any maths involved, just words… 😉 We’re keeping this simple.
Forget the maths
I’m just going to prove a point by using maths as an analogy. Remember BODMAS at school? No neither did I, I had to google what the ‘O’ meant!! 😀
The acronym to make us to remember how to break down a complex calculation. Brackets, Orders, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction.
We could encounter a significantly complex equation and finally understand where to start, turning gobbledygook into logic. It’s just the same with nutrition, doing things out of order won’t work for you, and neither will it in the maths.
The rough maths for body change
Nutrition is in no way an exact science, that’s why it’s difficult. If it were so clear cut we’d all know the magic pill to swallow or the ONE thing to do to make nutrition work. We do know that it is REAL SCIENCE, however. We know how our bodies work and more and more everyday we understand what can aid in our favour for nutrition, as well as knowing enough to make some broad statements about exercise nutrition. The main variables dictating your results look, broadly like, this:
- Nutrition (51%)
- Training (29%)
- Recovery (10%)
- Lifestyle (9%)
- Supplementation (1%)
As found from a range of sources, the weighting of each variable is only rough, but in my opinion and many others, is a pretty accurate weighting. Nutrition is HANDS DOWN the number one factor towards body composition goals – you can’t out-train bad nutrition. Likewise, it would be bad to go all out in the supplementation department if you have none of the above down to a point. There are circumstances where supplementation can really impact your goals, acting as a bit of a force multiplier when some of the precursors are met, however.
Like I said, these weighting aren’t exact and they all intertwine with each other to a degree. For instance, if you’re out getting smashed 5 nights a week you’re probably not going to recover well…
Nutrition and the changes we can make
So is it right that if nutrition is the route towards our success of body composition, then would it be right to say it’s important to get nutrition dialled in for our goals..? Of course! Glad we agree on that 🙂
And so just to remove the blasphemy around the word, can we also agree that the word ‘dieting’ is just another word that describes making changes to nutrition in an attempt to alter our body composition? It’s not a dirty word, but it has it’s place!
Within dieting and nutrition though, there are so many variables that dictate our end results.
Did you know there’s been a study where subjects were given a daily caloric intake purely of McDonalds food and another group the exact same caloric intake of whole foods. Both parties sat in a calorie deficit and both lost weight. We know that if the calories eaten are less than those burnt, then this will influence our weight loss.
However, there’s more to it than just sitting in a calorie deficit. You may lose weight eating mcdonalds all day, but I can show, and guarantee that diet will result in a poor physique as opposed to a more whole foods approach.
My point is, there are obviously a lot more variables than just energy (calorie) intake, so we’ll go into those below.
It is very frustrating that there’s no clear cut path to our end goal through nutrition, but there is a very general order of things we can do in order to influence them. This is all information that a lot of people may know so it’s going to be basic and again, like everything nutrition-wise, it’s not an exact science. The variables we can control are below:
ENERGY INTAKE:- This is about the total number of calories you consume daily. It’s a very clear cut scale. As calories are a measure of energy used to power the body, and influence weight dramatically, it’s a very clear cut scale of sitting in a calorie deficit or sitting in a surplus. Both lead to different goals.
DIET DEFINITION:- Your chosen diet may be described as vegetarian, paleo, vegan, normal diet, etc. All these diets offer a range of benefits as well as some being situationally detrimental to our goals, if you check out a previous post of mine I discuss how diets like ‘Paleo’ are beneficial, but hold zero place in some intense sport such as CrossFit or intense exercise. Check it out here
MACRO-NUTRIENTS:- My best friends! 🙂 Here we’re talking about the fat, carbohydrate and protein content in our foods. These dictate our goals dramatically in specific combinations but for the terms of an example of ti being variable, take ‘low-carb’ or ‘low-fat’ as diets varied in macro-nutrients.
FOOD TIMING:- Food timing, also known as nutrient timing, impacts our end goals. We eat to perform and we also eat to influence weight loss. Eating at the right time before a workout can influence that workout massively, in terms of performance and range of calories burnt, so nutrient timing plays an important role.
FOOD COMBINATION:- Certain macronutrients are digested at different rates. And so, eating a high fat food will be slower than a pure carb-based portion. Combine fats in there however and digestion will be slowed, as well as our goals influenced.
We’ve outlined some of the variables but how can you use these to influence your body composition?
This is a fairly simple conversation. If you’re active or partaking in intense sport, you will generally want to focus on making sure your caloric intake is supporting your goals. The first step with all of my clients is to focus on making sure they’re eating enough. Weight loss can completely stall if you starve your body for long enough and the minute you start looking at weight loss requiring fuel to even start, that’s when you’ll relax about eating a bit more than you think you need to.
When we have identified a clients metabolic baseline,through a process of trial and error in their nutrition we can decide whether they want to maintain weight, lose or gain. And it’s a simple increase of calorie intake that will dictate. More calories will lead to weight gain (muslce/fat) and less calories will lead to weight loss.
Your diet methodology does have an impact on whether your goals become successful or even possible. If you follow a Paleo lifestyle you’re pretty much omitting any processed foods and only eating whole, organic ones. Now I’ve experienced this first hand, it’s very hard to eat 3000 calories of food when you’re omitting processed foods from the equation. You’ll find trying to get 3000 calories from meats and whole-food sources a lot more difficult when accepting foods like bread, refined oils, cereals and other processed sources.
When taking part in an energy intensive sport it’s important we’re eating enough carbohydrates to even recover, let alone function in your sport of choice. Sadly the choice of taking part in a diet that removes a huge variety of food sources from the equation will severely impact your food choices, as well as scope for eating enough food. When the self-automation of calorie restriction occurs from eating solely pure quality foods we can affect our end goal results directly.
You may find that you can lose a lot of weight with following the paleo diet, or even one such as vegan or vegetarian, but it’s all down to mainly self automation of calorie restriction. The truth is this is one of the variables but check out that previous post I mentioned for a more in-depth read. here
I can advise from pure experience alone, as well as throwing tonnes of scientific studies at you about how macro nutrient ratios influence our goals. That is, the specific ratio of Protein:Carbohydrates:Fat in our daily intake. For instance, 1g of fat contributes 9 calories, and protein and carbs contribute both 4 calories per gram. Therefore, if we increase fat in our diets whilst keeping the calories the same, we actually drive weight loss by restricting the amount of carbohydrates we have available for exercise. We end up driving fat loss this way.
Vice-versa. If we increase the amount of carbohydrates available in our nutrition we make carbs for readily avialalbe for or workouts. This way we perform better, possibly burning more calories for going harder or either to a degree dictating weight gain or muscle size. Either way, macro nutrients are a huge variable and it’s a way of fine tuning our end goals.
This is a more advanced variable and an option to alter. This could relate to the number of meals you eat a day or whether even you’re partaking in some type of intermittent fasting. In the end, food timing will come down to how you’re eating to recover from your chosen discipline as well as how you eat before, obviously this bit will dictate your workout performance.
Eat the perfect amount of carbs before a workout means optimum workout performance and energy output (calories burnt). More advanced techniques boil down to consuming the right amount of macros in your meals after a workout ir order to recover and go again sufficiently.
The last variable impacts your rate of digestion.
Quite simply, fats are complex molecules which require much longer to digest, typically going up to 8+ hours at times. And so consuming these at any point will delay digestion, as well as the digestion of other foods in your gut. If you consume fats before your workout they will ultimately sit in your stomach, making your workout much less efficient and sub-optimal energy levels. Where as a pre-workout snack resulting of protein or carbs will aid your workouts much more efficiently, improving energy for your workouts, as both macros are digested relatively fast.
The last two points are quite more advanced viewpoints in terms of variables but do have a place in nutrition.
Our priorities for nutrition
We”ve outlined some of the variables and how they may impact your nutrition and goals but let’s prioritize how important each variable is!
Big players in the health and fitness industry such as John Romaniello recommend a priority order list such as this, and I’m in complete agreement:
- Energy Intake – 33-43%
- Diet Definition – 25%
- Macronutrients – 25%
- Food Timing – 10%
- Food Combination – 2%
Energy intake is ALWAYS my first step in helping clients. If they’re eating too much, obviously their goal of weight loss isn’t going to happen. Vice versa, if they’re eating too little, their goals of performance or weight gain isn’t going to happen. Even if your goal is to lose weight, you’ll be shocked at how much weight people lose when we put them up to 2000 calories when they came to me with 1000 calorie daily intake. Metabolic adaptation is a wonderful thing, research it!
Personally the macro nutrients to me are more important than diet definition, but both hold true. You need to be able to consume the correct foods in order to sustain your goals. So diet definition will impact that. Animal protein is a huge influence of muscle growth and so a vegetarian diet will impact this, as well as impacting the ability to eat the right amount of macro nutrients in our diet.
As previously discussed food timing is a more advanced technique to coach over as well as food combination. I’ll always say that you need to give your body the right nutrition before trying to utilise the more advanced techniques such as supplementation or the aforementioned.
Personally I just wanted to write this article to show you girls and guys the main areas of nutrition I think you should be focusing on. Work down the list, if you tick them off in order you’re going to set yourself up for success. Eat the right amount, then drill down on your fine tuning using macros. When all that falls into place you can work on the advanced techniques to drive your desired goals!!
Where do you sit on this priority list?
Are you eating enough?
Are you over-consuming.
Are you eating a low-carb diet where your sport of choice is actually pretty intensive?
Just some food for thought… 😉
I offer monthly Macro-Nutrition plans for clients-to-be including weekly phone check-ins and adjustments of your macros to drive your (extremely, unique) personal goals! 🙂 Within this monthly plan you have full access to me as well as learning a TONNE of stuff about macros, nutrition and the priorities listed above.
I just wanted to make everyone aware of the service I offer but also offer loads of free advice if you just summon the courage to ask, if I can help anyway I can then my goal is complete!
Hit me a message over here: http://new.chargenutrition.co.uk/macro-nutrition-coaching/ or hit me a message on my facebook page >>>> 😀
Charge up, team!