Posts Tagged ‘health’

weight-scale1

“I’m gunna start working out because I want to lose X amount of pounds/kilos”. If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that. You might have said it yourself or have heard a friend say it. The reason I bring this up is because the general population believes that solely the scale can track progress. While losing weight will definitely bring you closer towards your target body, it won’t be of much use once you actually hit your target weight. I very rarely, if ever, look at the numbers on my scale. If I were to hop on a scale now I’d probably be sitting around 180-185 lbs. You may be wondering how I measure my progress if I don’t watch my weight. What I’m going to tell you might surprise you. Ready? Drum roll…..the secret to getting your perfect body is the mirror. Crazy right! It can’t get much simpler! Let me explain how I’ve come to this conclusion.

When I started working out I was skinny-fat and I weighed around 135 pounds. I needed to lose fat on my body but I was actually really light.  Typically when somebody has a higher amount of body fat they’ll immediately think losing weight will give them the body they want. I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily the answer. I’ve seen people that look like they’re 180 pounds of pure muscle, when in reality they weigh 160 pounds. After my phase with p90x, I weighed around 175 and had some good muscle definition but I wanted bigger more defined muscles. 3 months later, I looked like I gained 10 pounds of muscle and weighed myself and was 2 pounds heavier at 177 pounds. How is it possible that I looked a lot heavier when I actually only gained 2 pounds? Would I have been as successful if I only used scale to track my progress?! No way!! DO NOT TRACK PROGRESS SOLELY WITH THE SCALE, TRACK PROGRESS BASED ON HOW YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR VS. WHAT YOU WANT TO LOOK LIKE. That’s right, all caps, if you know what’s good for you, caps usually mean something important, so take it in again. MIRROR > Scale. 

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you how to track progress by using the mirror. The thing you’ll be focusing on changing is your body composition. Body composition is basically the amount of fat vs. the amount of muscle on your body. If you think you need to lose weight then you probably have a higher amount of body fat and want to convert that into muscle. I’ve found that my weight generally fluctuates 5 pounds,  give or take, from my starting weight. I like to eat just above my maintenance calories (to find yours click here)  with a macronutrient split of about 40% Protein 40% Carbs 20% Fats. This is generally my starting point when I start a program and I adjust the ratio based on how I look in the mirror. If a couple weeks down the road, I don’t see the definition I want, then I’ll replace a serving of complex carbs with a serving of fibrous carbs. I’ll eat this way for a week and then make any necessary adjustments again. I’ve found this method of measuring progress to be the best for me because instead of worrying about my weight, I can focus on how my body looks, which is, in essence, the main goal. We’re trying to shape and build a body that we want. You have to be able to visualize what you want your body to look like to get there. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of people with amazing bodies that you aspire to build. Use that as motivation. Recognize that the mirror will give you a better measure of your progress towards that dream body than the scale. You can see abs and muscles in the mirror but you can’t see those on the scale. How are you going to get closer to achieving that dream body if you’re only focused on the numbers on the scale?! You won’t, it’s as simple as that!

You can find everything you need to build your dream body on this blog. Use the nutrition articles to find out your maintenance calories and to create a meal plan, try my workout routines and continuously check progress in the mirror and adjust your nutrition accordingly. Results will follow and you may just be surprised of what you’re capable of looking like!!

Good luck and train hard friends!

Hey everyone, this is the third installment in my nutrition series. In this post I’ll be talking about the macro breakdowns in your meals and the importance of timing, so let’s get started.

The macro breakdown of your meal determines what you will be eating for that meal and when to time it. By eating certain macro’s at certain points of the day we can ensure optimal absorption of nutrients, resulting in prime muscle recovery and growth, as well as nutrient absorption. How do we capitalize on this? Let me show you!

In the original post, I explained how your body uses macronutrients. It just so happens that there are certain periods of time in which eating certain macro’s can aid in boosting recovery and metabolism. Now some may consider this “broscience”, but I’ve experimented with different timings and have found what works for me.

Let’s say your eating 6 meals a day, you’ll have breakfast, pre-workout meal, post-workout meal #1, post-workout meal #2, meal.

Now in each meal, you’ll want to get your recommended amount of protein, no ifs ands or buts. This is the one macro that you will be taking in with every meal.

The timing magic happens with the manipulation of carbs and fats.

Breakfast is a heated topic of debate. Is eating  protein + carbs + fats for breakfast is more beneficial than only sticking to proteins+fats? In my opinion, no.   I’ve experimented with both and to tell you the truth I didn’t notice much of a difference, that’s just me. You can experiment and see what works for your body.

My general rule of thumb is to have meals consisting of only proteins + carbs before and immediately after the workout. I try to refrain from eating fats because they generally take longer to digest and I want my food digested by the time I’m at the gym so I don’t get any cramps from blood leaving my stomach and entering the muscles I’m working. I try to take in my pre-workout meal anywhere between 1.5-2 hours before I workout and I often opt for whole foods. It’s important to take in only complex (low-glycemic) carbohydrates at this time, because they take longer to digest then simple carbs and provide for a steady release of energy during the workout.

Immediately after you work out, I’m talking within 30 minutes, you have whats referred to as the “window of opportunity”. When you workout, your body uses carbs for energy. In doing so, the glycogen stores (which convert the carbs into sugar and release it into the blood) become depleted and your muscles literally become a vacuum. It’s important to jump on this opportunity and take in a whey protein shake sided with some simple carbs. I prefer to eat fruits, honey, and/or natural sugars such as 100% pure maple syrup or blue agave syrup, but it’s popular to use dextrose or maltodextrin to literally rush the protein to your muscles. Hence is why we do not consume fat directly after working out, because it slows the digestion. We want to feed our muscles as soon as possible and by combining a quickly digested protein (whey) with simple carbs (which almost immediately create an insulin spike and rush the protein into the body), we can optimize the nutrient absorption and help our muscles recover and grow.

So remember as a general rule of thumb, pre workout meal = protein + complex carbs , post-workout meal #1 = fast digesting protein + simple carb.

The other 3 meals of the day are fair game, they should be evenly split to ensure you’re taking in your required macros.

Now it’s generally recommended to eat every 2-3 hours as this will keep your metabolism burning, which we want because it shreds fat. You’ll find that this isn’t the end all be all approach and you might stumble across eating styles such as paleo, intermittent fasting, carb backloading, if it fits your macros, etc. I will cover these in the future, but this method is tried, tested and true. Its worked for me and my friends and it should serve as a functional base for your goals. Once you learn how your body responds to different eating styles over time you might find something might work better, but thats in due time, for now I recommend trying this out and seeing how it goes for you.

Many people wonder about eating at night and if it will make you fat. I, for one, call bullsh*t on this! My view and whats worked for me has been getting in all my macros and calories every day. Your metabolism doesn’t just shut off at 8pm and store food as fat. Calories in vs. calories out, if you’re hitting your cals and macros, it doesn’t matter what time of the day you are eating.

So that pretty much covers this topic, again if you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to get back as soon as possible.

If you’re here because you’ve already read my post Nutrition 101: Macronutrients, please read on, if you haven’t click here to check out the first lesson in Nutrition before returning to continue your learning.

So we know about macronutrients and you’re probably thinking holy sh*t, this must be really time-consuming and difficult to maintain. This is the point at which you decide how strict you want to go! If you’re looking to get into contest shape or planning to be a fitness model, you’ll want to have a plan of action with your macros and track each one so you can monitor progress and adjust based on how you look. That’s a different story, and I will be writing an article about specifics in another post shortly and linking it here. This post caters to the beginners, who haven’t followed anything specific and don’t know where to start. I’ll break this up really easily for you.

The good news is that there are many ways to achieve your nutrition goals. Some prefer to cook their meals for the day everyday, but in this day and age, it is much more practical, convenient, and efficient to prep are your meals once every 3 days. For me, Sunday and Wednesday nights work. I grill all of my proteins and prepare my carbs as well, all this alongside some salads and vegetables.

So what do I recommend? A visit to your local dollarstore, walmart, target, etc, to buy some Tupperware containers. Why? Because this will make your life SO much easier. Grab a small cooler as well, this will give you a place to store and carry around all your food so you can eat on a dime and you’re never left unprepared. This may seem like a weird order of events but bear with me. It just makes more sense to get the elephant out of the room right now. You’re going to have to be prepared, and failing to plan will lead to failure to execute.

Before you continue reading, please understand that I myself don’t count calories because I’m just maintaining my current physique. I’ve been eating like this for so long I can tell portions without weighing them and I know the nutritional profiles of what I usually eat, and if you’re a beginner you most likely wont, so make sure you track what you eat. This will help you greatly in making necessary adjustments based on your progress.

So we now know about macronutrients and why they are important, but what role do they play in our plan? You’ll see, but for now it a good idea to find your Daily Caloric needs, which can be calculated by clicking here. This will give you the amount of calories that you need to maintain your current weight. Now for the plan, if you’re trying to gain weight/build muscle you’ll be adding anywhere between 250-500 calories/day to that amount. If you’re trying to lose weight you’ll be dropping about 250-500 calories/day. You should be dropping about a pound or gaining about a pound for every week. That’s what’s considered normal. Remember that these numbers aren’t exact! Everybody is different, take a week or two eating at a caloric increase/deficit and see how you weigh, if you’re not gaining or losing you’ve gotta adjust accordingly until you find out what works for your body. Just remember, if you’re focused on losing weight, during the first week, the healthy eating and exercise will shock your body and you may lose anywhere between 3-10 lbs. This is water weight, aside from the first week, you should be losing about a pound a week.

Almost done promise! Now that you’ve got your set amount of required calories, you’ll have to figure out how many meals you will have. I usually have anywhere between 5-7 meals a day, consisting of 3 larger meals and 2-4 snack meals, depending on whether I’m training that day or not.  So what you’ll want to do is divide the total calories by how many meals you plan to have. It’s generally recommended to eat in 2-3 hours intervals in order to keep the metabolism revved. Some live by this others are against it. Like I said earlier, it works for me and that’s what matters. Find what eating regime works for you and stick with it, just make sure you’re getting in all of your required calories!!

Ok so we’ve got our caloric requirements and we’ve determined how many meals we will eat each day, what’s next? Cooking your food and preparing the meals with the right macro’s. The general rule of thumb is to take in about 1-1.5 grams protein per lb. of bodyweight, 1-2 grams of carbs/ lb. of bodyweight and 0.5 grams of fat/lb. of bodyweight.

For example, at the time of this writing I weigh 186 pounds.  To fill my caloric requirements, I need to eat anywhere between 186 grams- 279 grams of protein, 186-375 grams of carbs and approx. 95 grams of fats. I know from personal experience that I need about 3000 calories to maintain my current size.  To get my required calories and macros, I would need to eat about 240 grams of protein (240×4=960 cals), 300 grams of carbs (300×4=1200) and around 95 grams of fats (95×9=855 cals), which adds up to 3015 calories. Knowing this, you can divide your macronutrients by the amount of meals you’ll be having and set goals for each meal (e.g. If I eat 6 meals in a day, for each meal I should aim for about 40 grams protein(240/6), 50 grams of carbs (300/6) and 16 grams of fats (95/6). Be sure to check out my post on macro meals breakdowns and meal timing, by clicking here, to see how to manipulate the macro’s in each meal to optimize nutrient absorption and recovery.

Here’s a quick guideline to recap our meal prep for dummies:

  1. Find your daily caloric needs and adjust them based on your goal.
  2. Divide these calories up by the amount of meals you’ll have and your macro requirements .
  3. Prepare your proteins, carbs, fats and veggies/greens on the same day, and have your Tupperware containers ready.
  4. Once finished making all the food, mix and match your protein, carb and fat sources into each of the containers and you’re set!

What’s worked for me is using my fist size to judge portion sizes. This makes it so easy to prepare meals and takes the hassle out of the meal planning. One fist size for me is about 5-6 oz of protein, 1 cup of carbs, 1 cup of veggies/greens and a tablespoon or two of fats. Using this method, when I prepare my foods, I toss in a chicken breast, 1 yam and a cup of broccoli into one Tupperware case and in the other I’ll change my protein source and throw in a fist size portion of extra lean ground beef with a cup of brown rice and a cup of mixed greens. Sounds easy right? It is.  Use this method to ease into the habits of healthy eating. If you’re just looking to lose weight or build mass this helps. If you’re not losing weight, switch one carb serving for an extra serving of veggies/greens. On the mass building plan, if you’re not gaining, increase your carbs to a fist and a half for a meal or two and see how that goes. It’s all played by ear, if it works keep it going, if not make simple changes, experiment and adjust based on the results. I’ll make some specific nutrition plans for weight loss and muscle gain in time, but for now remember to keep it simple and make small changes where necessary.

Remember I’m here for you during this journey, if you still find something confusing, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back with an answer as soon as I can!