Nutrition cannot be overlooked. It is a deciding factor in what your body will look like. Without the proper nutrition you cannot build muscle, gain any strength, nor burn fat. Your body needs the fuel for the fire. In order to have energy you have to feed the furnace with good sound nutrition. Building and repairing the muscle requires proper protein and carb intake.
Without sufficient nutrition your body will not burn fat. You will go into starvation mode and you will retain more fat in your cells. Definitely not what we are intending. So what the heck do you do? Well its actually rather simple. Let me explain.
Getting the proper nutrition takes work just like your training and cardio. However this is the path you have chosen and these are your dreams you’re making a reality. Therefore you have to do what it takes to be a champion in any regard.
Making nutrition fun is the key
First things first, you want to always make sure you have a very healthy diet that consists of whole foods. Not Whole Foods the grocery store. Which I do like by the way, if you have one near you and budget allows, by all means shop away. But what I mean by whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and in their most natural state.
If you’re still unclear your best bet is to always avoid any type of a processed food. Instead of frozen chicken strips buy a package of whole chicken breasts, cut them and cook them yourself. Keep it natural. Keep it lean. Keep it healthy. Other examples of whole foods are fresh meat, fish, poultry, eggs, veggies, legumes, fruits, rice, oats, and quinoa.
Meal frequency is king. Eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day actually revs up your metabolism. This is good, you want to get the nutrients into your body so they can feed the muscles and allow for the naturals functions to exist without any interruptions.
Along with food staying hydrated is critical. Get down some water and plenty of it. Drinking water throughout the day is a sure fire way to make sure you get enough. For myself on training days I usually consume about 1.5 to 2 gallons depending on my intensity and how much water I loose working out. I am a big guy weighing in at 255 lbs so that has to be considered.
By eating whole food based diets and getting enough water you prime the engine for hefty horsepower (shameless car analogy). One thing, to consider is you can overfeed yourself and any excess will turn to fat. Keep an eye on your macronutrients and get the right amount of food.
Nutrition is a game of numbers
Basically what you need to do is determine what your daily caloric intake is in order to maintain your weight. What? By figuring out how much fuel your body needs to maintain its current weight will tell you how to gauge how many calories you need to either loose or build.
Building muscle and losing fat are quite simple. Once you know how much energy or your body needs you can then judge how much you either need to cut by creating a deficit or how much you need to add by creating a surplus.
How exactly do you calculate your caloric intake. By using math, our least favorite subject in school. All that stuff we never thought was practical comes in handy now. But incase your not a math wizard thats totally cool. Using a simple formula called the Harris-Benedict principle you can can assess your basal metabolic rate aka BMR.
BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to function. We use about 60% of the calories we consume each day for basic bodily functions such as breathing. Other factors that influence your BMR are height, weight, age and sex.
Step 1: Calculate your BMR with the following formula:
65 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
Please note that this formula applies only to adults.
Step 2: Incorporate activity into your daily caloric needs, with the following calculation:
- Sedentary : BMR x 20 percent
- Lightly active: BMR x 30 percent
- Moderately active (You exercise most days a week.): BMR x 40 percent
- Very active (exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods.): BMR x 50 percent
- Extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training.): BMR x 60 percent
Add this number to your BMR.
The result of this formula will be the number of calories you can eat every day and maintain your current weight.
Protein and carb intake are important also. They will make up a good portion of your daily calories. A rule of thumb for calculating your protein intake is to take your bodyweight and divide it by 2.2 to get weight in kilograms.
Take your weight and multiply it by anywhere between 1.8 to 2.3 grams of protein per kilogram. The same will apply for carbohydrates except multiply anywhere from 3 to 5 grams per body weight which will be determined by your activity level as well as fitness goals.
Supplementation is secondary to sound nutrition
I’m not going to cover a lot about supplements in this section. Just a basic rundown and a few things I suggest looking into for yourself.
Supplementation is just that, an addition to your diet. Not always necessary but a good way to get a little extra pep in your step. Supplementing with sports supplements or vitamins can also fill in some holes that you have in your diet.
If you’re not getting enough fish in your weekly meals you may be short on necessary omega 3’s which is essential to torching fat. The idea is to get the most you can from foods and then add on any extras.
One of the most common supplements is protein. Protein powders are a great way to make sure you hit your mark each day. They come in a variety of types and flavors. Try some out for yourself and see what you like. Protein powders are best for a quick meal replacement shake a couple times a day. Don’t get crazy and think you can just drink your meals.
Creatine is by far one of the most researched sports supplements. And with good reason. Studies have found that creatine does work and helps build muscle and increase strength. Creatine allows you to push your intensity a little bit further and get the most out of your workout. There are a ton of creatine supplements and one better than the other (so the labels claim). I have found that any brand of creatine made with Creapure creatine is great.
Pre-workout supplements are great if you’re not a morning person and you have to get up and workout in the morning. They give you a little extra drive and motivation to get out of the sheets and onto the streets heading towards the gym. I find that a lot of pre-workout drinks get me jittery and shaky, usually due to cheap manufacturing products. Best bet is to go to your supplement store and see what kind of samples they have and find one that works for you.
Many bodybuilders and fitness experts recommend getting in your BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) as well as glutamine. They both are excellent in helping with recovery. Most BCAA powders have glutamine in it but you can get it separately.
Like I stated before food is your best source of energy and supplements are not always necessary. You can get everything you need and more by keeping a close eye on what your eating and how your eating. A natural boost in the morning before the gym could be a cup of coffee or an apple. Both excellent sources of caffeine.
Analyze your diet and focus on that first. Then look into further supplement research.