I’ve created a pyramid of importance to show how you should work from the fundamentals of nutrition up to the optimisation of supplements. It’s important to note that a lot of people fail by focusing on the smaller picture (top of the pyramid) instead of managing the most pivotal aspects (bottom of the pyramid).
Hitting your calorie target - This is the number one thing you need to get right with your nutrition if you want to achieve your goal. This is the reason you successfully lose weight, maintain weight or successfully gain weight which is why this is at the bottom of the pyramid - the foundation of your plan. The number of calories you’re given may change at certain points, if you’re unsure why the number has changed or would like more information please just ask. This entire process is about you learning how to do things properly and more knowledge will help your understanding.
Protein and Fiber target - Protein is an essential macronutrient that your body uses for the growth and repair of lean body tissue. It’s responsible for hormonal responses and aids digestion amongst many other things. It also has a thermogenic effect which means compared to carbs and fats, protein costs the most energy to store (as lean tissue i.e. muscle itself is anabolic) and to breakdown and use (slower digestion time and harder to break down in the body). Fiber is alongside protein for its benefits in the body and its ability to help you consume healthier, more micronutrient dense foods. It will also aid your digestion, help you have regular bowel movements and increase satiety which is the feeling of fullness.
Carbohydrates and Fats targets - Unless you’re preparing for a physique competition or photoshoot this is where you can have a good amount of flexibility. Subtracting your calories used for protein from your overall calorie target should leave you with the remainder of your calories per day. These are to be consumed in the form or carbohydrates and fats. It’s useful for you to learn how to plan these into your day so you can enjoy meals whilst fully adhering. It’ll also help you understand how to prepare for an event or occasion that means going slightly off plan without spoiling your calorie goal. It’s worth saying now that no foods will make you lose weight or gain weight.
Nutrient timing – This is more of a tool we can use to optimise satiety, physical performance and muscle protein synthesis. 1. Satiety – when do you become most hungry? Do you prefer lots of small meals or a few bigger meals? If, like me and most of my clients, you’re most hungry in the evening then save a good amount of your calories for just then. Similarly if you’re ok missing breakfast and having a coffee instead then do this as to not waste calories unnecessarily. If you prefer bigger meals then have bigger meals – I prefer this as I dislike feeling hungry after eating a meal, whereas some people prefer to have more regular meals to stop them snacking. 2. Physical performance – I generally recommend more carbohydrates on training days and specifically around the workouts themselves. This can increase the amount of muscle protein synthesis (muscle rebuilding) and reduce the amount of protein (muscle) breakdown. This would mean having higher fats on non training days and/or meals away from training. 3. Muscle protein synthesis – it is optimal to spread out your protein amounts throughout the day, preferably with every meal. This allows as much protein as possible to be used to create an anabolic environment which allows lean body tissue to grow.
Supplements – These are used to make sure your body has a sufficient amount of micronutrients, good digestive and immune health, good sleep and, on occasion, optimal performance. Please check the list of recommended supplements.
Hit your calories, prioritising protein and ensuring you have enough fiber.
Use your carbohydrates and fats as you wish but consider the effects on satiety, physical performance and muscle protein synthesis which could affect body composition.
Use your carbohydrates and fats to be flexible and still enjoy food but be accountable for everything you eat and learn to make better decisions
Consider eating carbohydrates around 2 hours before and 2 hours after exercise, each with protein.
Consider eating more fats away from exercise and on non training days. This could include eating proteins with higher fats such as salmon and red meat on rest days and leaner proteins on training days.