Common Nutrition FAQs
Over the years of coaching and training many people both in person and online I’ve found the same questions tend to come up over and over again. Particularly for people just starting out on their fitness journey, there are so many options, opinions, myths and bizarre rules out there that it can be hard to know which was to turn and even harder to separate fact from fiction. Add to that the, sometimes, misinterpreted information that the media puts out and it’s no surprise that your head can spin. For example, is dark chocolate killing you or is it the elixir of life? Did you hear about that new detox that Celebrity X used to drop 10 kilos?
So here is my best advice that I usually give to people when these Frequently Asked Questions come up. However it’s important for me to mention now that the right answer FOR YOU is an individual answer. The answers I suggest here are general guidelines that will fit most people. The advice I’d give to a young male athlete will differ from the suggestions I’d make for an older female looking to improve her health.
What is the best diet?
Annoyingly, there isn’t one. Do not try to put yourself into 1 dietary philosophy. Remember there are pros and cons to every type of diet out there. It’s also important to remember that something that has workout for you in the past may not be beneficial for you now. For example you had some success with a low carb type diet, but now your goals is to gain some lean mass. A low carb diet would not be ideal for you now, so you’ll need a new approach.
Find what is best for you NOW and keep an open mind. The best diets are the ones that are the most realistic, you can see yourself adhering to your nutrition plan for the foreseeable future, include the foods you enjoy most and matches your individual biology and goals! If you don’t know what works best or need some advice, drop me an email and let’s get you on the right path!
Do I have to cut carbs?
Short answer, No.
Carbohydrates themselves do not make you fat, they are not the devil and they are necessary when it comes to certain fitness goals. It’s much better to focus on you carbohydrate sources and portion sizes. Great options are:
fruits and veggies
Grains (if tolerated)
As well as selecting the right sources of carbs, be sure to moderate/track your portions. How big or small your portions are will depend on your activity levels and goals so take these into consideration when adding carbohydrates into your diet.
REMEMBER: Carbohydrate avoidance = quick initial weight loss (note, weight, not body fat) but will lead to stalls in progress further down then line and your lean mass will not be as easy to support. Avoiding carbs is also not easy to stick to and very impractical in the long term.
How effective/should I do a detox/juice cleanse?
I would refer you to my other blog post HERE regarding all kinds of fad diets and detoxes and why they should be avoided for long term success.
Where do I start? There are so many options
I agree that this is like standing at a crossroads and not knowing which way to turn. My usual recommendation is to use a systematic approach to fixing your nutrition and lifestyle habits.
The first step is to Eliminate Nutritional Deficiencies: many studies have shown that almost everyone, from weekend gym warriors to top level athletes have one or more things deficient in there diet. There is no need to do a total nutritional 360 and go from eating burgers and fries every day to now eating a kale salad. This will limit adherence in the long term. Usual Deficiencies include:
Low Protein Intake
Minimal Healthy Fat Intake
Lacking Many Important Vitamins and Minerals
Adequate Water Consumption
The best approach is to tackle these things one at a time. This my seem low and progress may not be a quick as you’d like but remember this is a systematic approach and when you addressed many of these problems you will find your fitness goal, whatever it may be, to be far easier to achieve because you will now have your body operating optimally, for the most part.
How should I structure my nutrition around my workouts?
This varies on the goal of your workouts but in general you want to have a well balanced meal 1-2 hours before and after your workout, this will give you plenty of fuel so you can perform your best in the gym while also giving you adequate nutrition to allow you to recover post workout.
For more advanced trainees like strength athletes and body builders, a drink containing some protein and carbohydrates can be beneficial during the workout.
For advanced fat loss clients I usually recommend a Branched Chain Amino Acid supplement to sip on during the workout to provide some energy and to preserve muscle tissue.
Is calorie counting necessary?
Yes and no. Weight loss/gain comes down to thermodynamic at the end of the day. Eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Burn more calories than you’re consuming and you’ll lose weight. We call this energy balance. For beginners I’d refer your back to FAQ number 4. Clear up any deficiencies in you diet first and you should see some results. However, when your goals become somewhat loftier and you really want to see the best version of you in the mirror. Tracking your intake through calorie/macronutrient count does become one of the best ways of reaching these goals.
Using apps like MyFitnessPal and a simple kitchen scale means you now know exactly what’s going into the fuel tank. Your activity level will be dictated from your workout schedule and lifestyle and from there it’s just a case of balancing the equation. Advanced tracking also means you’ll be confident you’re meeting you protein requirement for the day which is important when you’re looking to achieve more advanced levels of body composition.
These are just a few of the questions I get asked and while these are very general answers I hope some of you will find this helpful. If you need further guidance of have any questions, shoot me an EMAIL and let’s see how we can push you towards becoming the BEST version of YOU.