I can’t stress this enough, nutrition is one of the most important aspects of anyone’s training routine and is responsible for at least 50% of your MUSCLE BUILDING and STRENGTH TRAINING results! Nutrition is a crucial element to losing weight or gaining muscle.
Although I try to eat as healthy as I can, I’m not the type of person that puts food on a scale and makes sure I take precisely the amount of calories, protein, etc. I need throughout the day. However, if you’re looking to lose weight or gain muscle, there are a few simple things that everyone should know. If you have any fitness goals, it is very important for you to understand the difference between good and bad fats, between simple and complex carbohydrates, between good sources of protein and bad ones, and the difference between good food and bad food.
Nutrients are broken up into two main groups which are macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the ones that you need to take in large quantities: fats, carbohydrates and protein. You get your daily energy needs from macronutrients. Although a calorie you eat from a piece of fruit and piece of pizza will give you the same amount of energy, calories from good and bad foods have different effects on the body, which is why you need to consume better food.
Dietary fat gets a bad reputation because of the “fat” in the phrase. People automatically assume that because they’re eating fat, they’ll gain fat. However, this is simply a myth and is not the way it works. Fat doesn’t make you fat, excess calories make you fat! Fat can be categorized into three main groups: saturated, unsaturated and trans fatty acids. Saturated fats come from animals sources and are usually labeled as ‘bad fats’ because of their effects on the body, mainly increasing levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Sources include dairy products, meat and eggs.
Unsaturated fats come from vegetable sources and generally have a positive effect on your body which is why they’re known as ‘good fats’. They raise levels of good (HDL) cholesterol and certain types can protect against heart disease. Sources include vegetable oils (olive and canola are among the best), nuts and fish. If saturated fats are the ‘bad fats’ then Trans fatty acids are the ‘very bad fats’. These fats are found in any food that contains partially or hydrogenated vegetable oil and is a way that manufacturers can increase shelf life and improve flavor. Unfortunately that comes at a high cost of decreased nutritional value. Trans fatty acids have been shown to lower levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) while at the same time raising levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Any food that contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil contains trans fat and should be avoided at all costs!!
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Greatly reducing or even eliminating your intake of carbs as some diets suggest will severely decrease your energy levels which will make it difficult to raise your physical activity levels and even function correctly daily. So the key is eating healthy carbs while ridding your diet of the unhealthy carbs. In our ebook we give you the best complex carbs to include in your diet. Like fats, carbs have also gotten a bad reputation. Fortunately for carb lovers, not all carbs are the same. Carbohydrates can be split into two main groups: simple and complex. Simple carbs are the ones you should stay away from. The problem with simple carbs is that they’re digested very quickly which will leave you hungry which will start a vicious cycle of wanting more and more thereby increasing your calorie intake. These foods are packed with sugars but contain very little if any other nutrients, they’re know as empty calories. These sources include soda, fruit juices, potato chips, pastries, sports drinks, cookies, breakfast cereals, white breads and candy. If eaten at all, simple carbs should be set aside for during and after a hard workout.
Complex carbs are the ones you should be eating more of. These carbs are found in 100% whole wheat flour (bread and pasta), brown rice and vegetables. These foods are also high in vitamins, minerals and fiber which can lower cholesterol levels and prevent certain types of cancer. Foods that are high in complex carbs are digested a lot slower than simple carbs which means you’ll get a much more stable release of energy. This will help you cut down on your calorie intake and help you avoid sugar crashes.
Great Carb choices include…
- Brown rice
- All Nuts
- All Beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain pasta
- All fruit
- All green leafy vegetables
- Most vegetables (no potatoes)
Proteins are used as the construction materials for all body tissue. Protein is used to repair muscle tissue after a hard workout which is why you not only need an adequate amount, but also the right kind. Protein is also broken into two main categories: complete and incomplete. Proteins are made of amino acids. Some amino acids the body can make and others it cannot. The ones that it can make are non-essential because we don’t need to eat them since our body can make them. The ones that the body cannot make are called essential because we must get them through our diet. To build or repair tissue which of course includes muscle the body needs all of the essential amino acids. A complete protein is one that contains all the essential amino acids. These come mainly from animal sources. An incomplete protein is one that is lacking in one of the essential amino acids. These proteins are mainly found in non-animal sources such as bread, rice, beans, nuts and vegetables.
Great protein choices include…
- Any lean cuts of meats
- 100% Whey Protein Shakes
- White meat or Poultry
- Any Raw Nuts, Peas, Beans (not refried), Lentils or Legumes high protein foods for vegetarians
- Most fish
- Any seafood
- Raw Almonds -
- Lightly Cashews
- Lightly peanuts
- Bass (fresh water/sea)
- Steaks with fat trimmed off
- Oysters (half shell)
- Beef (range-fed or game)
- Lean Chicken breast (skinless)
- Turkey breast
- Skinless Turkey breast
- deli Turkey
- Egg whites
- Egg beaters
- Leanest cuts of Beef like Red round steaks and roasts, top loin, top sirloin and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
- Leanest cuts of pork like pork loin, tenderloin, center loin and ham.
- Well-trimmed Leg of lamb
- Top Round Leg cutlet or Chop cuts of Veal
- Cornish hen
- Pistachio nuts
- Natural peanut butter
- natural cashew butter
- natural almond butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
While macronutrients are the substances you need large quantities of, micronutrients are the ones you need small amounts of. They include vitamins and minerals. These nutrients don’t give you energy but instead help assist functions within the body. Without micronutrients, you wouldn’t be able to utilize the calories you take in or function properly. This is why it’s vital that you eat a wide variety of foods to include whole wheat, fruits and vegetables. These foods are very high in nutrients. Taking a multivitamin can also help plug any holes in your diet. Nutrition isn’t complicated but if you don’t understand it, you’ll build your diet around lies and misinformation. Eating the right foods will help you exercise and function better. You can go online and do a search for calorie calculators to estimate how many calories are needed daily to maintain, gain or lose weight. Most calorie calculators are based on your age, height, gender and your activity level. Calorie Calculators are not an exact science so you should give the number of calories given a two-week trial run and then assess your progress. If you are trying to gain weight (muscle) and not seeing any results increase your calories by 250 per day. Within a few weeks of experimenting and listening to your body, you will be able to determine what the right amount of calories per day for your fitness goals!!! However, if you are gaining weight to quickly and in this process you notice you are putting on more fat than desired subtract 250 calories per day. Again, within a few weeks of experimenting and listening to your body you will be able to determine what the right amount of calories per day for your fitness goals!
When trying to gain muscle you have to look at eating as if it is a job. Example, I hear people complain about not being able to gain weight, the reason is very simple; they are not eating anywhere near as much as they need to. Some people may even think they are eating a lot, but when they add it all up at the end of the day, they are usually only about halfway there. Putting on serious muscle requires dedication and you are going to have to get used to eating more than you ever thought you could if you want to be successful in building muscle and strength. However, just don’t eat anything to increase your daily consumption of calories.
You should BASE YOUR DIET AROUND NATURAL, WHOLE FOOD SOURCES!! You must EAT AN AMPLE AMOUNT OF GOOD CARBOHYDRATES!!!! Although it’s long been the hype among bodybuilders that you need to follow a high-protein diet to build muscle, you have to focus more on good carbs and good fats to get big.
Another great idea is to keep a diet journal so you can total up the amount of calories, protein, carbs, etc. that you have consumed throughout the day and find out exactly where you stand. Sometimes you’ll notice that you are hundreds if not thousands of grams short!