Nutrition Deep Dive With LIT
Hello and welcome back to another health and fitness blog. I have decided to create a fully loaded nutrition deep dive post that will cover everything from:
1. Calories & Protein for fat loss & muscle growth
2. Why you shouldn’t label your foods “good or bad”
3. Diet mindset Vs nutrition mindset
4. How to calculate your personalized calorie intake to suit your goals and then how to track your progress.
I hope you enjoy this post & gain some value from its content. Put the kettle on, sit back and enjoy the read.
So first up I’m going to talk a little bit about calories & protein & how they both work regarding body composition. For the body to function properly it needs to take in a certain number of calories each day. These calories are used for energy output, growth & repair of cells and simply for your heart to continue beating. The number of calories we consume daily will also have an impact on the overall size of our bodies. If we consume too little calories everyday over the course of weeks & months the body will drop body fat, if we eat too many calories the body will gain excess body fat and if we eat the correct number of calories the body will remain the same with no gain/loss. Therefore, calories allow us to manipulate the size of the body.
Protein, a key macro-nutrient can also play a part in manipulating the size of the body. When consumed along with a regular training program it can assist with muscle growth. The more fat we can replace in the body with lean muscle tissue the smaller and leaner the physique will appear. Some other ways protein can play a positive role in body composition includes:
Heightened Metabolism: Metabolism: (the process in which the body transfers foods & drinks into energy) is heightened when the body is breaking down protein which means you burn more calories.
Feeling fuller for longer: Food’s high in protein often tend to keep you satiated/fuller for longer which helps with consuming less calories through eating less.
Muscle Mass: Protein helps with the repair and building of muscle mass, when you lift weights what you are doing is breaking down the muscle (tearing muscle fibers) which then needs to be repaired. The role protein plays is that it helps to repair the tissues that have been damaged by exercise and enables them to grow back bigger & stronger. When the protein repairs these tiny muscles, your metabolism is once again heightened burning more calories, this is where the term “burn calories while you watch Tv comes from”. In order for the muscles to repair it is very important that you are consuming enough protein in your diet
A large part of food labelling “Good Vs Bad Foods” comes down to diet culture and how the media & advertisements have tried to manipulate how we view different food groups in order for us to buy into the newest quick fix & fad diet. There are absolutely no good and no bad foods when it comes to eating a balanced and healthy diet. Yes, there are foods that are going to be more nutrient dense (meaning they provide a purpose and high level of nutrients to the body) and then there are going to be foods that will be energy dense (empty calorie foods) that will provide little to no nutrients or value to the diet. It is important when trying to sustain a body compositional goal, be it fat loss/muscle gain that you consume a variety of foods from all over the food board including those empty calorie foods. Diet culture has made us believe that we need to cut out entire food groups such as carbs/fats in order to achieve a certain goal and that is not only a dangerous method to take but also one that is very unsustainable.
As I have stated above, if the physique goal is fat loss then the primary tool you will use is to be in a calorie deficit. If that calorie deficit has you consuming 3 balanced and nutritious meals with snacks everyday along with a chocolate bar in the evening then this is a much smarter and sustainable way to hit your goals. I always try to factor in a variety of snacks such as fruits, chocolate, ice cream, cheese, yoghurts, popcorn & crisps into all the meal plans I create so my clients have that choice and know that eating these foods in moderation will not have an impact on their goals. As a trainer I do not believe in restricting any one food or food group from the diet.
This brings me on nicely to my next topic of discussion, Diet Vs Nutrition Mindset when trying to hit your physique goals. It actually still baffles me to this day how many women and men looking to lose body fat buy into these ridiculous quick fix diets that spring up in the diet culture scene every year. The thing about these quick fix diets is that they prey on the weak and vulnerable and promise quick results. Yes, they might work in the short- term but they will never be sustainable or teach long-term healthy eating habits that will have the client reaching goals year-round. Eating foods that you enjoy and that work with you, your lifestyle and goals is key.
On the opposite side of the spectrum then is the nutrition mindset. Looking at food as fuel and a way of nourishing and rewarding your body is a much healthier and sustainable perspective to adopt when trying to reach your body physique goals. Choosing foods that play a purpose in the diet such as (protein to increase muscle growth, carbs to fuel your busy day & fats to optimize hormone health) will not only improve health but will increase your chances of either losing body fat, building some lean muscle and improving the overall quality of your life in the long run.
Everybody’s calorie intake will be different and individual to the person & their lifestyle. Those who have a very active lifestyle, spend a large part of their day on their feet and workout a 4-5 times per week will have a considerably higher calorie requirement in comparison to another who works a desk job and doesn’t take part in much physical activity.
Working with a trainer you know and trust online or 1:1 will of course cut your learning curve and time spent on reaching your goals. Most trainers will give you a set number of calories & macros to help reach your goals and work with you to monitor this as the weeks go on! However, if you are not in a position to work with a trainer then you can try and do this yourself.
In order to calculate your calorie maintenance requirement, which will be your starting point you can use a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculator online. This will ask for details such as bodyweight, age, height & activity level. If your goal is fat loss then you would minus 100 calories from maintenance and from there it’s all about trial and error. After a couple of weeks take measurements and see if they are decreasing. It’s also important to monitor how your energy levels are. If your body measurements are decreasing and your energy levels are good then stick with that number. If your measurements are not moving then minus another 50-100 calories from the maintenance number. It’s all about finding the number and sweet spot that works for you while reaching your goals. The opposite then would be if you were looking to gain weight, calculate your calorie maintenance number and increase your calories by 100. You can also just stay at calorie maintenance and change your physique though resistance style training and consuming adequate protein.
The best way then to track your progress is to take body measurements using a tape and photos. Take weekly photos from the back, side & front to see if body fat is either reducing or increasing. Also track your measurements in key areas such as waist, hips, thighs, glutes, bust and arms. If the numbers are gradually decreasing each week and your goal is fat loss then you know the calorie deficit is working.
Thanks for reading and I hope the above has helped deepen your understanding around nutrition, dieting and reaching your physique goals.
If you would like to work with an online coach that can help you with changing your body composition, then please get in touch about the programs I have available