Monday, November 8, 2010

Breakin' it down.......

One of the first things you should do when it comes to nutrition is keep a log of what you are currently eating and get a baseline of how many calories you are taking in along with the percentages of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Once you do that you need to be honest with yourself and remove all the foods that aren't necessary. Some examples would be processed carbs, sugary drinks, pizza, chicken wings, and anything fried. Now you should add in foods that are necessary- lean protein, healthy sources of fat, and lots of veggies. Notice I didn't say fruit, that is because I once had a co-worker take that statement too literal and she was eating 1,000 calories of fruit for lunch, with no protein! If you are not eating at least 2-3 servings of fruit a day add that to your list and if you are extremely active eat around 3-4 servings of fruit a day (Fresh fruit, not the crap from a can).

Now that you corrected some things, its time to add your calories, fat, protein, and carbs back up and see what your break down looks like (protein has 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, and fat has 9 calories per gram). Without creating too much controversy , a beginning strategy for body fat loss that I recommend is 12 calories per pound of body weight. So if you are at 200lbs. a daily caloric total would be 2400. If you are at 112lbs. around 1350 calories will be a good starting point on your road to leanness. This should not be done forever, once you drop a little body fat, body weight, or can tighten your belt a little tighter its time to reevaluate your caloric needs. Hopefully this occurs within 4-6 weeks of clean eating.

To shock your system and create a metabolic change I would have a different caloric total for non-lifting (rest/cardio) days and lifting days. I would drop your calories by around 100-300 on non-lifting days. To take it a step further, if bigger changes are needed, I would alter the nutrient breakdowns on days with different activity levels. As far as carbs, fat, and protein, I recommend a 20% carbs/40%fat/40% protein split on non-lifting days and 40% carbs/20% fat/40% protein on lifting days. The percentages don't fluctuate a whole lot, and those extra carbs should be taken in during morning, pre, and post workout meals. Good carb sources would be sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and fruit. Make sure you know what size sweet potato you are eating and measure out your oatmeal.

Trying to put everything in perspective requires a calculator, a food scale, a measuring cup, and a system like fitday (which I mentioned before) would be helpful. Try to eat 5-6 times a day, some meals some and some snacks. If you look at our 112lb. individual taking in 1350 calories a day trying to shoot for snacks/meals in the 200-300 calorie range 5-6 times a day. If you look at the nutrient break down on workout days we have, 100-130 grams of protein/100-130 grams of carbs/and 30-40 grams of fat). That comes to around 20 grams of protein/20 grams of carbs/6grams of fat per meal at 6 meals a day. I don't think that is too much to ask anyone to eat a day, or too little. Obviously, non workout days would have more fat and less carbohydrates, you can figure out the breakdowns.......

This is just a starting point, an introduction on how to set up an eating plan that is realistic and doesn't neglect any food groups. If you look at the big picture keeping a food journal and documenting your caloric and nutrient intake is one of the most basic strategies you could take to improve your physique. When shopping for food try to buy mostly organic (a whole blog altogether), it's a little more expensive but tastes better and much healthier.

Sit down, begin looking at your current food intake, and decide what changes you need to make to achieve your goals with health and leanness. There are more specific and more drastic changes you can make to get rid of the stubborn body fat once you reach and acceptable level (around 18% for females and 10% for guys), those recommendations will come at a later date. Now get to the grocery store!

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