How scientific should your approach to nutrition be?

Here's an article I wrote a while back which seems to have vanished from the site I submitted it to. Whatever, screw those guys I'll just post it here instead!

I'm a recent convert to the IIFYM aka "If It Fits Your Macros" theory on nutrition, which basically says you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight, as long as you end up at the appropriate amount of calories from proteins, fats and carbohydrates. With that being said, here's the article... starting... NOW.

Depending on your goals, you may or may not require a very thorough and scientific approach to nutrition and calorie counting.

Nutrition plays a big part in any fitness program, whether you are trying to burn some fat and get into a healthy weight range, or trying to gain weight and lean muscle mass. How complicated it has to be depends a lot on how specific your goal is, and what sort of time frame or deadline you have set in which to reach it.

For people who simply want to get into better shape, be more lean and become healthier, you can expect some results just by cutting out junk food, drinking water instead of soda and starting a basic exercise program with walking and perhaps some bodyweight resistance exercises. For people with more specific or more ambitious goals, a more thorough approach will be required.

As an example, if you want to look like a bikini model you need to eat like a bikini model, and if you want to look like a competitive bodybuilder you will need to eat (and train!) like a competitive bodybuilder.

As a personal trainer I often tell my clients; if you want to look better than average, you need better than average nutrition. If you want to look like a fitness model, you need virtually flawless nutrition. For many people who have more ordinary goals, it's sufficient to have just "good" nutritional habits from day to day, with the occasional treat or cheat meal when they really feel like it. Combined with an effective training program and some patience this is enough for most people to progress towards their goal of improved health and fitness.

So before we continue I'll just reinforce the previous point, it is not always necessary for the average person to have highly strict and restrictive eating habits in order to achieve some results from a fitness program. However, those with more lofty ambitions or those who have reached a plateau where results seem to have become fewer and further between may need to look closer at their nutrition and develop a plan specific to their goal.

Whenever I am asked for advice from someone who feels like their progress has stalled, one of the first questions I ask will be "what is your daily calorie intake?". More often than not, they will not be able to answer this question, or even know what their daily target of calories should be. Most people feel that because they are working so hard in the gym or on the track they have earned the results that they desire, but without knowing your current intake of calories and being able to compare it to your required amounts, how can you really have any strong expectation of the specific results you should achieve? When you have a specific goal and time frame in mind, nutrition really is just as important, if not more important than exercise alone.

For these people it is not enough just to train hard - they need to take a very scientific and mathematical approach to nutrition. It is necessary to know the required amount of calories, and make sure their actual intake of calories is correct. This can be determined by calculating a maintenance level of calories and adding or subtracting depending on your goal (ie weight loss or weight gain). It's important to keep in mind, if the daily calorie intake is too low the body will attempt to store and conserve as much energy as possible, which makes it very difficult to achieve any fat loss regardless of how hard you might be training.

Having determined our maintenance and target levels of daily calories, we also need to ensure that the ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrates and fats is correct as well. Further to this, we should be concerned with the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats, sugars to other carbohydrates, and the amount of dietary fibre consumed daily.

Every person is a unique individual and will achieve their best results from a different ratio, but taking 40% of calories from protein and 30% each from carbohydrates and fats is a good place to start. If necessary, each individual can experiment with slightly higher or lower carbs than fats and decide on which ratio works best for them.

There are numerous calorie and macronutrient counters available online, including many free resources.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Popular Posts

VIP Access

Fill out my online form.