I had a conversation with a friend a while back. Really intelligent guy. He stated, “Nutrition is about getting enough nutrients to meet your goals without getting you fat.” Pretty simple but not always to apply. Today, we are gonna talk about your time in the kitchen and how this is the biggest component of your life process.
The best training schemes in the world will be ineffective without the correct nutrients. Think about cars for a second. If you put cheap fuel into a high performance race car what is going to happen? Well the car might run but not even close to what is optimal. That is the key word today: optimal.
I do think that most of your nutrients should come from whole foods. I know some think organic is the way to go. I am not TOTALLY sold on that but I do see the perspective on why someone might go organic. Always by what you can afford first. If you feel you are not able to get enough nutrients in with just food (AND NOT EXCUSES) then you supplement with sources that are available and sensible.
Protein is something that I think is too high in the competitive athletes diet. Carbs are something that CAN be too low. And essential fats are often totally ignored. I plan on going into some detail to give you some points to consider for living a healthy, active life whether a pilates pro or wannabe bodybuilder.
Protein should start for everyone at 1 gram per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 180 lbs you should start with 180 grams of protein a day. This is the starting point for everyone. I do think that regardless of the person you should have this ration AT LEAST. Next to water, protein is the most abundant compound in the body. Egg protein is my favorite for the quality. A whey isolate digests quickly so its great for the first meal of the day and right after training. The rest of the day can be varied sources.
Carbs are something that can be a little complicated. Some people think they are evil but really they are just misused. Carbs can digest really fast to really slow. Normally you want something that is slow in digestion to keep from roller coaster energy levels and sugar spikes that can make you fat. Learn about the glycemic index and how that can impact your health. I suggest that most get at least half their body weight in carbs. That is a starting point to add or subtract based on your goals. Be sure to add a lot of alkaline foods to your diet as well.
Fats are an essential resource as well. Really if anything is the enemy it would be carbs over fats. Obviously if you ate things loaded with saturated fats it would be a little different. I am talking about fish oils, all natural peanut butter, flax and avocados. Fats can be a great snack and energy source but they are really dense in calories so it doesn't take much to overdo it. The suggested amounts are specific to the total calories. I think 20-30% of your calories should come from fats.
Don't forget your water! Drinking plenty of water aids in the digestion of nutrients, how efficiently those nutrients are transported to the cells, and how well the cells absorb them. One of water’s most important roles is to flush the dangerous toxins out of our bodies. Every function of the human body will be compromised on a systemic level when you don’t drink enough water.
Water helps you get the most value from your supplements as well. Water helps with the utilization of all the water-soluble vitamins and minerals your body needs to survive. If a person is not getting significant results from creatine, which in my opinion is one the most effective legal supplements of the market, I would surmise they are not drinking enough water to take advantage of the hydration effect that occurs (for most of us).
Now let's put it together....
Before calculating the percentages of each of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) make up of your total food intake, you must know the calorie conversion of each of them. A calorie is a unit to state the heat content of food. In simple terms, what energy is needed to “burn up” that type of food.
One gram of protein is equal to 4 calories.
One gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories.
One gram of fat is equal to 9 calories.
FYI: One gram of alcohol is equal to 7 calories.
If you want 55 percent of the 2,500 calories you've allowed yourself for the day to come from protein, simply multiply 2,500 by .55. That means 1,375 of your 2,500 calories would come from protein. If you divide those 1,375 calories by 4 (the amount of grams one calorie of protein is equal to), you'll determine that you need 343.75 grams of protein every day.
If you eat eight meals a day and feel you should distribute protein evenly throughout the day, each of those eight meals would consist of about 43 grams.
If you want 30 percent of the 2,500 calories you've allowed yourself for the day to come from carbohydrates, multiply 2,500 by .30. Which means 750 of your 2,500 calories would come from carbohydrates. If you divide those 750 calories by 4 (the amount of grams one calorie of carbohydrate is equal to), you'll determine that you need 187.5 grams of carbohydrates every day.
If you eat eight meals a day and feel you should distribute your carbohydrates evenly throughout the day, each of those eight meals would consist of about 25 grams.
If you want 15 percent of the 2,500 calories you've allowed yourself for the day to come from fat, multiply 2,500 by .15. Which means 375 of your 2,500 calories would come from fat. If you divide those 375 calories by 9 (the amount of grams one calorie of fat is equal to), you’ll determine that you need about 42 grams of fat every day.
If you eat eight meals a day and feel you should distribute your fat evenly throughout the day, each of those eight meals would consist of about 5 grams.
Notice the totals of 42 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of fat that we determined each meal will consist of are very close to the nutritional breakdown of a typical meal replacement.
You can check your work by adding the amount of calories you have determined for each of the macronutrients are equal to the daily total of calories for the day in this manner:
Total protein (55%) = 1,375 Total carbohydrates (30%) = 750 Total fat (15%) = 375 Total calories for the day = 2,500
Finally, reward yourself! Putting together a structured plan is worth it when you plan for cheat meals. Always schedule in advance the days that you’ll stray or “cheat” from your well-planned and structured bodybuilding diet—instead of arbitrarily doing so. You’ll feel more successful, in control, and dedicated. You’ll become more determined to make it to the “finish line” after you've put together a stretch of days exhibiting outstanding discipline. You will enjoy the “not-so-healthy” meal (or meals) even more and with less guilt because you know you've earned that indulgence.