Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Learning Points: Nutrition


This is to provide things I have learnt through experience and an avid interest in fitness and nutrition, aided by the fact i don't do anything half-heartedly and love researching the hell out of science-proven theories. 

- One of the most important facts that i was told time and time again, and really only grasped its importance until i followed through is that your nutrition is paramount to your results, both interms of the energy you have for your workout and the nutrients to grow muscle and lose fat (Fuel and Refuel). If you are under-eating, or your nutrition intake is inadequate then your results will either be short term or negligible, or - if you were as unlucky as me- result in weight gain and blaming it on "but exercise increases my appetite".

Lets take it back to school-days science:
Carbohydrates --> Glucose. 
Protein --> Amino Acids. 
Fats --> Fatty Acids. 

Glucose is required for energy and it's release into the blood following a meal leads to a surge of Insulin; Glucose will either be used as energy or, particularly in its excess, be stored as Glycogen. Amino Acids are the building blocks of Protein and Protein is the building block of Muscle. 
The 2 forms of Fatty Acids are Unsaturated and Saturated (bad) and are calorie dense so 1g of Fat provides 9 calories (as compared to Carb and Prot which provides 4calories). 
Calories are unit of energy.
Also, do not underestimate the importance of fibre. It is also a macronutrient you must be eating in adequate quantities. 
There are SO SO SO many diets out there, and so many guides to how you want to implement Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats into your diet. To name a few:

Ketogenic Diet: High Fat, Adequate Protein, Low Carbohydrate
IIFYM: Working out your macronutrient requirements according to BMI and activity level and dividing it, for example, 40/40/20
Clean Eating: Definition kind of unknown 
Paelo Diet: a diet aimed to mimic the diets of cavemen (meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts)
Eating Small Frequent meals e.g. 5 or 6


I personally do not have time to analyse every single diet and i abide by the simple fact that If your calorie intake is more than your calorie output than it will lead to weight gain.

In order to build lean muscle you must have an adequate intake of protein (1- 1.5g per lbs weight). I have experimented in the past where i have probably consumed 2309482349234g per lbs weight, and it didn't get me "lean muscle", it got me fat. It is not as simple as "consume a whole load of protein and your muscle will use it ALL", and studies have shown this. There have also been studies to show that consuming a bolus of protein after a workout is not more beneficial to lean muscle growth as having it throughout the day.

What i personally do, and it works for me, is i have calculated the number of calories i need in a day, and i use the IIFYM calculator because i like to stay on track with how much macronutrient i need to consume. I combine this with a 'clean eating' plan, because i like to eat healthy- it is easy for me as i have been brought up on healthy foods, and so i am not/never tempted by fast food etc. Some days your calorie expenditure is more, other times it is less so there are obvious flaws, but as long as i know that my intake is sufficient to fuel my workout, and to grow lean muscle without storing fat, then i can deal with that. Now everyone is different, and your metabolism may be slower or faster than the IIFYM accounts for, but this is why you need to own a mirror, and asses your progress through pictures/clothes/reflection/weight WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOOOOOUUU - and adjust accordingly. 
I also split my meals into 5 per day, because i like the concept of eating regularly because i like food and i don't feel bloated. It is a personal preference. The theory behind splitting your meals is that it prevents a hormone (Ghrelin) being released which is responsible for your appetite. Also, it is supposed to help regulate your glucose levels. A lot of people will argue against this. A lot of people also can't find time to eat 5x a day. Hence why you need to find something that WORKS for you, because if it doesn't feel convenient/manageable then guess what, 5 weeks down the line I BET YOU you wont be sticking to it. 

So i have breakfast around 10am, meal 2 around 12.30, meal 3 around 2.30, meal 4 5.30, Exercise, and then meal 5 straight after. 

PWO: Protein shake and banana

I ensure i have sufficient protein in meal 5, along with a fast-acting carbohydrate such as brown rice; there has been research done to prove protein uptake is faster and more effective if eaten with a fast acting carbohydrate. I also do not eat fats (my source is usually avacado) in meal 5 because it is believed that consumption of fats slows the uptake of protein, which your muscles require STAT after a workout. Remember, when you workout you are "damaging" the muscle, but thereafter the muscle hypertrophies (increases), providing there is sufficient amino acids. 

There is also a belief that fruit (-->fructose) is not regulated by insulin i.e. there is no insulin surge after you eat it, and thus many in the industry avoid fruit. Insulin is considered a pro-synthesis (anabolic) hormone for muscle. Also fructose must be broken down in the liver to be converted into glycogen first, and this delay means a greater chance of it being stored as fat. 

My Top Food Sources
Carbohydrates: Brown rice, Basmati Rice, Oats, Rice Cake
                          Quinoa, Mixed Grains
Protein: Tuna in spring water/brine, Chicken, Turkey, Egg [whites], Cottage cheese, Quark (if on the go: Protein bars, Protein shakes- will review in a later blog)
Fats: Avocado, egg Yolk
FibreBroccoli, Cauliflower, Pepper, Carrots, cherry tomatoes 

I enjoy green tea, fruit teas, normal tea, coffee which i have with skimmed milk and almond milk.

Water is your friend.

I do not use sugar, i rely on sweetener without Aspartame as there is a lot of bad press about it (my sources include Stevia, Splenda, Truvia, and i believe Candarel have a new one also)

Over summer, I sat and went through the whole process of working out calories, grams of macronutrients in all my favourite/usual foods and i have set meal plans for me that fit my requirements. Some may be able to pay a nutritionist for them to do this, but I didn't feel i needed to, being all Miss Independent and all. I did this because i had a really poor concept of portion-control and i knew something wasn't quite right in my portions because i had odd cravings and low energy at times (which lead to over-eating at naughty times). This, by the way, took a whole days work, and you will feel a little ridiculous googling the information/looking through packets and the back of tins etc, but once its all calculated ITS DONE. It eliminated a lot of guilt and guess-work i had, and it helped me 'trust the process' a lot more, because i knew i wasn't under-providing for my body or over-indulging (when you calculate things, you realise it is extremely easy to do). It also helped put food in perspective as a nutrient-provider, and some things did shock me like how much carbs are in one thing, and how much protein in another ETC. I also prepare some of my meals in advance, like if i know i'm going to get home after my gym workout and want food THEN AND THERE. 

I found this site particularly useful for my calculations:

--> If you want something extra-ordinary you've got to do something that other people aren't willing to do
--> If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
--> 100% effort put into training, 100% put into your diet
--> Abs are made in the gym, but exposed in the kitchen.
--> It is a lifestyle.

NB: Source of science papers:

A good read by someone i respect greatly in the industry:

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