2. Macronutrient Targets, Fibre & Alcohol
When people in fitness talk about “macros” we are talking about the three macronutrients: Carbohydrates (4kcal per gram), Proteins (4kcal per gram) and Fats (9kcal per gram).
This layer is important because although calories determine weight lost or weight gain macronutrients largely determine what is lost or gained. We are, quite literally, what we eat.
When it comes to your Macro Nutrient ratios everyone varies greatly but the one unifying factor is Protein, 30-40% of your daily calorie intake should come from Proteins, regardless of your goals. Protein is satiating, it encourages the body to spare muscle tissue and is actually used by the body to repair muscles damaged in training.
The rest of your daily intake varies greatly from person to person but if you have struggled to lose weight in the past I would go with no higher than 25% Carbohydrates and the rest of your diet made up of Fats. If you have struggled to put weight on in the past I would go with 20-30% fats and the rest from Carbohydrates.
Though that is a gross oversimplification, macros play an important role and do need consideration. Get them right and you’ll reach your physique goals quicker and more painlessly than if you ignore them.
3. Micronutrients & Water
Vitamins, Minerals and Water play a huge role in your health and composition, but once again they become invalid if you haven’t fixed the two tiers below this one on the Pyramid. Whilst the Micronutrients you consume can have an effect on helping you to gain muscle or lose fat, you can’t lose weight, by munching on veggies alone, if you are eating too much and you won’t gain muscle by choking down vitamin tablets if you don’t have enough Protein and Carbohydrates in your diet.
Water is however very important, if food is the Petrol to you body, water is the oil, brake fluid, windscreen wash and the little cloth you use to demist the windows. Your body cannot do anything without water, most of us get our water from our food but you should always try to drink 2-3 litres per day. Increasing your intake of water however can reduce subcutaneous (under the skin) water storage making those who are already lean, look even leaner.
4. Nutrient Timing & Frequency
We have now reached a Tier in the Pyramid which only becomes important as you really progress in your training.
I hear talk all the time from people about how you can eat “Whatever you want” after you’ve trained and get away with it…
Whilst it is true that to some extent your body will process what you eat differently when you’ve had a hard training session or at certain times of the day, it is all irrelevant if the other Tiers in the Pyramid aren’t covered. Eating 5 bananas after a “Big Session” isn’t going to help if you’re not hydrated and eating enough calories and Protein to fuel muscle growth and it definitely isn’t going to help if your aim is to lose weight.
The only Meal timing strategy I have ever used effectively is the 16/8 Protocol of intermittent fasting (Again this was used with all other tiers of the Pyramid in place first). The explanation of 16/8 is beyond the scope of this article but I am happy to give you some information if you get in touch!
Easily the most over sold and misused Tier in the Pyramid bar none. Whilst supplements can help with your goals, the clue is in the name, Supplements are designed to SUPPLEMENT your diet to help you fill in any gaps that you may be experiencing.
Nothing can be a substitute for good nutritious food and you can get amazing results just from eating correctly.
This tier is where people who want visible Abs or Performance athletes should look to maybe help improve their results. Your average trainee doesn’t need any supplements. There are a few useful (but not essential) supplements, such as BCAA’s, Creatine and some Protein shakes, but again that is beyond the scope of this article, feel free to get in touch if you’d like some more information about this.
So there you have it. A basic Nutrition guide in a nutshell. The majority of people will be able to achieve great results just by focusing on the first 3 tiers of the Pyramid.
If you would like more information on Nutrition and exercise get in touch!