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Nutrition in a Nutshell


I've talked about Nutrition before on here, but I want to get a nice big post dedicated to it, maybe even turn it into a reference page on it's own in the future, so here it goes...


Food Philosophies

Online Calculators

I think online calorie calculators are inaccurate; they can get you close, but I used 7 different ones and found almost a 1500 calorie difference between them, so don't expect it to get your needs perfectly right.

I'm going to give you some solid places to start, and save you the trouble of using one.

I'm also going to show you how to adjust your calories and macros alongside your goals.

3 General Guidelines

First, there's 3 General Guidelines I try to follow that help me feel healthiest (yes, you can look good naked and still feel bad, and you can look bad and feel healthy, but why not look good and feel healthy?):

  1. Eat Real Food

  2. Not food-like substances.

  3. Food your Great Great Grandma would instantly recognize.

  4. Things with less than 5 ingredients, no additives or sciency words like "hydrogenated" - real foods ARE ingredients.

  5. Not Too Much

  6. No going back for seconds.

  7. No snacking - only eat full meals.

  8. Eat till you're about 80% full.

  9. Eat slower, chew more, and enjoy your food.

  10. Mostly Plants

  11. Organic fruits and veggies are great, but non-organic is good, too.

  12. Maybe Veganism is the answer, maybe it's not, but either way plants are nutrient-packed powerhouses.

  13. We're talking like 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day.

Sometimes I don't follow those Guidelines, because maybe I got too busy with work and have to eat all my food at night cause I didn't eat all day.

But MOST of the time I follow those 3 Guidelines.

Phases

There's 3 Phases of eating, each have their unique characteristics, and it's worthwhile to spend time in each Phase.

  1. Bulking- Caloric Surplus, High Carb, Low Fat

  2. Recalibrating- Caloric Balance, Moderate Carb, Moderate Fat

  3. Shredding- Caloric Deficit, Low Carb, High Fat

I love pendulum cycling, rather than the trendy drastic change cycling, but again that's my preference.

With pendulum cycling, you start on one end of the spectrum, let's say Bulking, then move towards Recalibrating, then towards Shredding, then back to Recalibrating, then towards Bulking, and you swing back and forth like a pendulum.

Drastic change cycling would be starting at Bulking, then towards Recalibrating (typically though, when people go for drastic change they skip this stage at their own detriment), then towards Shredding, then back to Bulking.

Either way you decide to cycle will be better than if you don't. Your body yearns reasons to adapt.

Oftentimes, losing 5 pounds of body fat will show deeper cuts, and make your muscles look even bigger than if you gained 5 pounds of muscle.

How long you stay in each of the Phases is up to you and your goals; you can either make gradual changes (50-100calories a day either way) until you hit your goal and then adjust the other way, or, you can run each Phase more aggressively.

If you're running each Phase aggressively, I'd suggest to Bulk for 8-12 weeks, Recalibrate for 4-8 weeks, and Shred for 4-8 weeks.

Macros

I don't strictly count my Macros, yet, because I like to leave a few tricks up my sleeve when progress slows down, and honing in Macros is a great trick.

I think Macro tracking is extremely powerful, and recommend you doing it, but I also believe you should work towards intuitive eating IF you aren't going to compete - unless you're neurotic as hell and love total control, then keep tracking.

I've weighed, measured, and counted the macros of my meals for extended periods in the past, so my eyeballing is pretty accurate - if you haven't weighed and measured your food before, it's worth doing for at least a month to really learn portion sizes of different foods.

Practical Guide

But First, Let's Talk Protein

All you need is 0.7-1.0g/lb of bodyweight (I shoot for 0.8g/lb of bodyweight).

Regardless of what Phase you're in, your Protein needs don't really change - your Protein wants might change, but your needs don't.

There's enough Protein for optimal protein synthesis - anything more isn't necessarily going to help build muscle, and can become an expensive way to eat for energy.

Protein is satiating though, so running on the higher end may be helpful in the Shredding Phase.

Bulking

Start Bulking with:

Fat at 0.35g/lb of bodyweight

Carbs at 2g/lb of bodyweight

There's enough Fat for optimal hormone management and vitamin absorption. There's plenty of Carbs to replenish glycogen, and aid recovery.

If you're weighing yourself every 5-7 days, and you're not gaining at least half a pound while Bulking, add some Carbs - just a little increase though, like 10g-25g a day, then run that for 5-7 days before assessing and adjusting again.

I firmly believe that even if your end goal is to lose 50+ pounds, that everybody should start with a Bulk - the increase of muscle will increase the calories you burn while working out and while you sleep, and besides, you're going to cycle through the phases anyway. (Now if you have 50-100+ pounds of body fat to lose, you're probably still going to magically lose weight during your Bulk, don't freak out.)

Typically, I'd like to see a Bulk last 3-8 weeks.

Recalibrating

Start Recalibrating by balancing out your Carbs and Fats;

  1. After a Bulk: if you're still gaining weight every 5-7 days, adjust by adding 1g of Fat and taking out 15g of Carbs,

  2. After a Shred: if you're still losing weight every 5-7 days, adjust by adding 15g of Carbs and taking out 1g of Fat.

This will keep you at a caloric balance - if you find you're still gaining or losing weight, reduce or increase your carbs a little faster.

You know how some people seem to stay the same weight without even trying?

Their body is happy there, because they're at homeostasis at that weight - they're "baseline" is calibrated there.

The purpose of this Phase is to help your body reset it's internal baseline to your current, post-Bulk or Shred weight.

Those that have gained a bunch of muscle, to only get sick for a week and seem to lose it all, will understand how useful a solid Recalibration can be, almost as much as those that have lost a bunch of weight, fallen off their plan, and rebounded heavier.

Typically, I'd like to see a Recalibration last 1-4 weeks - the longer your Bulk or Shred was, the longer the Recalibration should be.

Shredding

Start Shredding with:

Fat at 0.55g/lb of bodyweight

Carbs at 1g/lb of bodyweight

If you find you're losing more than 1 pound a week, add 5g of Fats a day, and re-evaluate every 5-7 days.

If you're not losing half a pound every week, drop your Carbs 10-25g a day, and re-evaluate every 5-7 days.

The slower and more gradual you can make adjustments from Bulking to Shredding, the better and more long-lasting your results are going to be.

If you give yourself 6 months to adjust instead of 6 weeks, you'll retain more muscle, feel better the whole time, and be more likely to sustain your lifestyle long term.

Typically, I'd like to see a Shred last 1-8 weeks.

Tools

Spreadsheets

I'm obsessed with spreadsheets, and think they will make your life a lil easier.


First, dedicate a cell for your Bodyweight.

Then, dedicate a cell for your Protein needs, and enter the formula in the picture (=(bodyweight cell) x 0.8).


Then you can use the same type of formula for Carbs and Fat in each of the Phases, getting you a table that looks like this image.

Meal Planning

Sometimes you get in a rut and eat the same foods till they're so repulsive you never eat a boiled chicken breast again - really though, who hasn't gotten tired of Chicken, Broccoli, Rice after eating it 5 times a day for a month?

But finding new meals on Pinterest can be a little time consuming, and maybe you'd rather just be spoon-fed meal ideas that you can thumbs up or down (like Pandora tailors music to your taste, your meal plans should evolve with your tastes).

I personally use Eat This Much when I get tired of having to track my macros myself, and would rather know they're being handled - I won't bore you by telling you they give you a grocery list and everything is incredibly customizable, but you should go check them out.

[They do have a FREE service, but their full service is much more useful, and if you use the gift code: WOMACK they'll let you have full access for a couple weeks]

If you use the gift code, I may receive a referral commission, but it doesn't change the price for you either way, and it's extremely appreciated by me and my lil family.

Tracker

When I do feel like tracking my own macros, I don't feel there's a better app than MyFitnessPal.

It's pretty straightforward to use, and even though they have their own calculator that gives me different macros than the formulas above, I can see how many I've eaten - they do have a premium version, but I don't really see the point because I know what my numbers are, and just use it to reference throughout the day how close I am.

Other Important Things

Water

There's an enormous amount of misinformation about water consumption, so let me keep it simple for you.

You should consume 1ml of water for every calorie you consume during the day - Gold Star if you match the water intake with the meal (have a 600cal meal and match it with 600ml of water after/during it).

If you don't know how many calories you're consuming, there's 4 calories in each gram of Protein and Carb, and there's 9 calories in each gram of Fat.


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