Nutrition has always been a weakness of mine so I decided to get together all of my textbooks from my fitness course and explore any resource I could find to create this guide. A lot of this is also taken from an assignment on nutrition I did last year. I thought I would post it here for all the newbies to give them a place to start.
Note: This is only a guide, I have made sure that all of the info provided here is safe but I am not a doctor so take it with a grain of salt. This guide is just to give you an idea about nutrition for weight loss and then you can research it further.
If anyone thinks any of the info provided below is wrong or should be altered please speak up and if needed I can edit the post (giving you credit of course). If there is anything of value you think should be added I would love to hear it. I think it would be great to build this up to be the ultimate guide that everyone agrees on. Iím confident most of this is correct but there are probably a few issues that are debatable because they come down to personal preference.
Its really long (about 4500 words) so some of you might want to skip over some parts because it might be too basic, but its all good info.
Nutrition For Weight Loss
I believe this is the most important factor in weight loss. The main principle is to lose weight you need to burn more energy than you consume. However this gap cant be to big because you body will go into starvation mode and you will start burning lean muscle mass. So, how do you know how many calories per day you should consume?
Estimating Your Daily Calorie Requirement
Its important to know how many calories you should consume per day to achieve the maximum amount of weight loss while maintaining your lean body mass. If you eat too few calories you lose muscle, if you eat too many you donít make progress or even go backwards. Previously when Iíve gone on a diet Iíve tried to eat healthy and eat less without actually recording what Iíve eaten. The problem is I eat too little because I am so anxious to achieve my goals and I end up losing muscle mass and not much fat because my body goes into starvation mode.
I think its important to note that calorie counting can be rather time consuming in the beginning and that I'm not saying you absolutely have to do it. Feel free to ignore this bit and continue on with the rest of the guide, because by roughly estimating how much to eat (and by constantly revising this amount based on your results) you can still achieve excellent results. However, although counting calories may seem pedantic, it is effective. You dont have to do it forever, only long enough for you to learn what works best for your body. It took me about 2 months to really pin point my needs and then down the track at certain intervals I have resumed counting calories for a couple of weeks to reevaluate my calculations. Once you get past the first week and work out the figures for most of your meals it becomes really easy. So to conclude, this part is not essential, but recommended.
Below Iíve listed the equations necessary to estimate (its impossible to be spot on) how many calories you should be eating per day. Your Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories your body uses when at rest to perform vital bodily functions. We start off by calculating your BMR and then you times it by an activity factor. Iíve used some of my stats to demonstrate.
If you need to convert any of your measurements, check out this site:
Height Ė 178cms
Weight Ė 77kg
Age Ė 21yrs
Harris Benedict BMR Formula For Men
BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kgs) + (5 X height in cms) Ė (6.8 X age in yrs).
Harris Benedict BMR Formula For Women
BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kgs) + (1.8 X height in cms) Ė (4.7 X age in years)
So to calculate my BMR I do the following: 66 + (13.7 X 77) + (5 X 178) Ė (6.8 X 21)
BMR = 66 + 1054.9 + 890 Ė 142.8
BMR = 1868
Now we need to take into account the amount of energy burned through activity.
1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) Ė BMR X 1.2
2. If your are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days a week) Ė BMR X 1.375
3. If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days a week) Ė BMR X 1.55
4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) Ė BMR X 1.725
5. If you are extra active (very hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or training twice daily Ė BMR X 1.9.
I fell into category number 3 therefore 1868 X 1.55 = 2895.4
Therefore 2895.4 is the number of calories I need per day to maintain my current weight. As you know to burn fat I eat less than I consume. So how many calories do I take off this figure without the risk of burning muscle.
They recommend that a person lose 1-2 lbs per week maximum. The example Iím going to use is for my aim to be to lose 1 lb per week. I believe this is fast enough and I wonít be losing any muscle. 1 lb of fat is 3500 calories. Therefore to lose 1 lb a week you do the following: 3500 divided by 7 = 500 cals. I then minus 500 from 2895.4 = 2395.4. So to burn 1 lb of fat per week I must consume no more and no less than 2395.4 calories per day.
Now that you know how may calories per day you should be eating, where do you get these calories? You canít just go down to McDonalds and eat your required amount of calories and think your job is done. You need to be eating the correct percentages of macronutrients and then you need to know the best foods with which to get these macronutrients.
So how do you know what percentage of carbohydrates, fats and proteins you should consume? You can either start of with a common ratio like 50% carbs, 30% Protein and 20% fat. A lot of people use the ratio 40 : 40: 20. In my opinion 40% protein is too much to consume on a weight loss program. It would be different if you were bulking but too much protein is wasteful (it goes to fat) and it can also be harmful (as explained later). Instead of using a preset ratio you can also work them out individually as explained below.
Lets look at protein. Its recommended that you consume no more than 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. I weigh 170 lbs so I should be getting 170g of protein per day. Because there are 4 calories per gram of protein I can do the following calculation: 170 X 4 = 680. So I should consume 680 calories of protein per day. To workout the percentage you need the number of calories you should consume daily. Therefore: 680 divided by 2395.4 = 0.28 X 100 = 28% protein. Note:
If after doing these calculations the percentage if over 40% then disregard and estimate. I reccommend 30% but if you think you need more, do not go over 40%. In some cases the 1g for every 1lb of bodyweight guideline can be too much. (Thanks for bringing this to my attention Ansett)
The recommended amount of fat intake should be around 20% Hence 0.20 X 2395.4 = 479 calories from fat. Because there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat I can say that 479/9 = 53.2g of fat should be consumed per day.
To work out the required amount of Carbohydrates I can use the following equation. 100% - 20% (fat) Ė 28% (protein) = 52% of Carbohydrates per day. Hence 0.52 X 2395.4 = 1245.6 calories of Carbohydrates per day. Because there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate I can say 1245.6/4 = 311.4g per day.
So the Macronutrient Percentages are:
52 : 28 : 20
Carbohydrates : Protein : Fats
Below is a diet plan I sourced from http://www.fatlosstips.com
it gives you an idea of how you can space your meals and what they might consist of. Of course your plan will be different depending on when you workout, what type of workout it is and what type of schedule you keep. Just use this as a guide and design your own plan using the information listed in this essay.
You should have 5-6 meals a day so simply divide 2395.4 by 6 = 399.2. Thatís how many calories you should be having at each meal. With regard to macronutrient ratios for each meal, consume more carbohydrates during the day until about 5pm when you should restrict carbo intake and increase protein intake. Fat intake should remain consistent throughout the day.
You can track what you eat and all of the numbers and ratios on a spreadsheet. Check out Johnís spreadsheet on the main page or check out Adi's excellent fitness log that really makes it easier for you to achieve your goals: http://forums.johnstonefitness.com/s...ead.php?t=5999
You can also use http://www.fitday.com/
to track your diet.
Because there is no way of accurately calculating how many calories you should for optimal fat loss you must track your progress and adjust the figures when needed. Keep track of your lean muscle mass and if its dropping quickly, you are probably eating too little calories. If you arenít losing any fat you may need to reduce the amount of calories.
8 am Whey protein powder, vitamin C (1,000mg)
9 am Workout
10:30 am Meal [egg white omlette] with Glutamine, and vitamin C
1:30 pm Meal 3 [5oz chicken breast, 1 cup of brown rice, small salad]
4:30 pm Meal 4 [snack]
7:30 pm Meal 5 [6oz of tuna, 1 cup of vegetables]
10:30 pm Whey protein powder, vitamin C and Glutamine
Its one thing eating the right amount of calories but if you eat all the wrong foods to achieve that calorie limit then your arenít going to lose weight. Iíve listed the macronutrients below and what type of foods they are to give you an idea of they type of foods you should be eating.
Carbos are the most readily available source of fuel for energy production. Digestion breaks down carbohydrates so they can be converted to glucose, which then leads to the production of ATP (what your muscles use for energy). When they are not required they are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles and then as fat.
Carbohydrates can be divided into two groups:
-Complex Carbohydrates (Starches made up of thousands of glucose molecules)
-Simple Carbohydrates (Sugars made up of one or two glucose molecules)
Complex carbohydrates can be found in a variety of foods including bread, rice, pasta, vegetables and some milk products. These foods are generally digested slower and release energy over a longer period of time which helps reduce fatigue and makes you feel fuller, longer. Many complex carbs are also rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
To increase your complex carbohydrate intake eat more of the following;
- Bread (especially wholemeal and wholegrain)
- Cereal products such as oats and whole wheat.
- Wholemeal pasta and brown rice.
-Legumes and vegetables.
Simple carbohydrates are high in calories and have little nutritional value. Sugar has no vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre or essential nutrients. Simple Carbohydrates are not good for people trying to lose fat as explained below in the Glycemic Index section.
To reduce sugar intake, cut down on sweets, cakes, pastries, soft drinks and fruit juice. I cup of orange juice contains as many calories as the same amount of coke.
The Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a means of assessing and clarifying the blood glucose response to carbohydrate foods. It compares the blood glucose levels and the rate of carbohydrate digestion into the system. Foods are given a rating of 1 (lowest) to 100 (highest). The lower the GI of the food, the slower but more sustained is the blood sugar response. Because of this slow release of energy Low GI foods keep you feeling full longer and you get fewer cravings. Foods that are digested rapidly (causing a rapid but short term release of energy) have a high GI rating which causes the dreaded insulin response (explained below).
The following info isnít really that essential but it explains why low GI foods are good for fat loss. If you want you can skip over this part.
When you consume high GI foods you experience a sudden increase in your blood glucose levels, which trigger the insulin response. The pancreas releases heaps of insulin with the aim of reducing the blood glucose levels. Before I go on there are two enzymes and their functions you must understand.
Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is an enzyme that takes free fatty acids from the blood and stores it in the fat cells as triglycerides. This is called lipogenesis, the making of fat. It expands the size of fat cells by filling them up.
Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL) is an enzyme responsible for the release of fat from the fat cells and back into the blood stream making it available to the body for energy. This process is known as lipolysis. It reduces the size of the fat cells as the fat is being released.
Now, when insulin is released into the blood stream it increases the action of LPL (lipogenesis) in the fat cells and suppresses the action of HSL (lipolysis). So when you eat foods high in sugar, your blood glucose levels rise and the pancreas releases insulin. The insulin increases the process of lipogenesis, which means more fat is being stored in fat cells instead of being used for energy. Its even worse eating high sugar and high fat foods at the same time because the sugar increases the insulin response and the fat in the blood stream goes straight to the fat cells.
So to lose fat we must increase the use of HSL (lipolysis), which will speed up the breakdown of fat in the cells and cause it to be used as energy. Adrenaline and Cortisol enhance HSL production and are produced in response to stress. Physical stress in the form of exercise increases the rate of fat breakdown and uses the resultant free fatty acids to power muscles. Emotional stress also increases the rate of fat breakdown, however, fat stays in the bloodstream putting you at risk for artery disease. Stimulant drugs like caffeine and amphetamines also increase the above hormone production.
So, successful fat loss is dependant on maintaining blood sugar levels during the day, thereby reducing the negative effects of the insulin response. This state is produced by eating Low GI foods, preventing peaks and troughs in blood glucose levels and therefore insulin levels.
Glycemic Index Values
A High GI Value is 70 or more.
A Medium GI value is 56 to 69.
A Low GI Value is 55 or less
Below are some links to lists of popular foods are their GI values:
For more info about the Glycemic Index and for a really good GI database check out this website.
Fats are very important in our diet as they provide a valuable source of stored energy, contain essential fatty acids, contain vitamins A, E, D and K and they are vital in many cell processes.
Fat can be classified as either:
are found mainly in animal foods (milk, cheese, meats etc). Saturated fats contain a substance called cholesterol (a solid waxy substance). If cholesterol levels become high, blood vessels may become narrowed which in turn may lead to cardio-vascular problems. There are two types of cholesterol found in the body:
High density lipoproteins (HDL) Ė The good cholesterol.
Low density lipoproteins (LDL) Ė The bad cholesterol.
Unsaturated Fats fall into two categories:
are found in most vegetable oils and fish (eg. corn, soybean, safflower and cottonseed oils) and contain essential fatty acids (explained later). They lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels, which is good.
are found in olive and canola oil along with some fruits and nuts. Eg. olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, cashews almonds, peanuts and avocados. They lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body and therefore must be obtained through the diet. They are not stored but saved for hormone like functions.
Omega 3 and Omega 6
are found in fish oils. Research on Eskimos has found a low incidence of heart disease even though their diets consist mainly of saturated fat in the form of seal and whale meat. By consuming fish, the effect of these essential fatty acids is a reduction in blood pressure, prevention of blood clot formation and decreased triglycerides in the blood.
You can also get essential fatty acids from flax oil and various supplements.
To conclude: for weight loss and optimal health, stay away from saturated fats and concentrate on mono-unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids. However even though these are good fats, excess consumption will still lead to fat gain.
Protein performs several very important functions for the body; it helps repair body cells and damaged tissue; it assists with the growth and reformation of new cells; it assists in the production of red and white blood cells, hormones and enzymes; it provides fuel reserve after all other energy reserves have been depleted.
Itís recommended that people undertaking fitness programs consume 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Any more than this can be harmful to your kidneys and other components of your digestive system. Also once your body has met its protein requirements the excess is stored as body fat.
Protein is broken down by the bodyís digestive system into amino acids. There are two types of amino acids:
Essential Amino Acids (cannot be produced by the body)
Non-Essential Amino Acids (These can be produced from other amino acids in the body)
Protein can be obtained from a variety of sources:
Animal Foods Ė meat, poultry, eggs and dairy foods. These are high in protein and contain all of the essential amino acids required by the body.
Plant Foods Ė breads, cereals, grains, beans etc. These foods supply the body with protein but lack the required amino acids.
You can also obtain protein from supplements like Whey Protein that are very useful because you can meet your daily protein requirements without consuming too many animal products.
Protein for Energy
You should make sure you have enough protein in your diet because even though it does not play a major role in energy production for the body, your muscles will be broken down if protein is the only fuel left when carbos and fats supplies have been depleted.
To get your protein requirements consume a mixture of whey protein, lean meats, skinless poultry, eggs, low fat dairy products and seafood.
Vitamins serve a variety of important functions in the body; tissue function and repair; energy metabolism; assisting with chemical reactions within the body; enabling more efficient nutrient uptake; immune function; red blood cell production and nervous system maintenance
If your diet is good you may not need extra vitamins but athletes and people on fitness programs burn more energy and hence may require supplements to ensure they meet their daily requirements
I wonít go into the different types of vitamins and their functions because it would take forever. To ensure you get enough vitamins try and consume fruits and vegetables with every meal and take vitamin supplements.
They assist the body in; muscle contraction; nerve control; fluid balance (sodium/potassium);
metabolism of enzymes in energy production (zinc/iodine); control the bodyís pH and in the transportation of oxygen.
The two most important minerals are:
Essential in the production of energy. Most iron in the body is absorbed into the blood and goes into the production of haemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen around in the blood. Iron is also used in muscle myoglobin to transport and store oxygen in the mitochondria. Iron is very important for athletes and can be obtained from the following sources; red meat; liver; kidney; eggs; green vegetables; fish; poultry; cereals/breads and dried fruit and nuts. You can also supplement iron with a general mineral supplement.
Calcium is used in the body to assist in; muscle contraction; nerve transmission; enzyme activity; blood clotting. Calcium also along with the performance of weight bearing exercise assists in maintaining the strength of bones. Calcium can be found in; milk; cheese; eggs; green vegetables; tinned salmon; non-fat yogurt. You can also supplement with calcium with a general mineral supplement.
Dietary fibres are foods that are not broken down by the enzymes in the small intestine. They are found in plant foods such as cereals, breads, grains, fruits and vegetables. Dietary fibres also slow the release of sugar from the blood ensuring a sustained release of energy in the body. Populations who eat large amounts of dietary fibre have been found to experience a reduced incidence of; bowel cancer; diabetes; heart disease; obesity and constipation.
Dietary fibre can be broken down into two types:
Soluble fibre Ė This helps lower cholesterol and can be found in foods such as oat bran and certain fruits.
Insoluble fibre Ė This is found in foods such as wheat bran and beans. This helps in holding water, increasing bulk and eliminating wastes from the body.
The effects of dietary fibre can vary and depend upon the type, the amount and the source of that fibre. When bacteria in the large intestine are digesting dietary fibre, fatty acids are produced. These fatty acids nourish the bowel wall and help control muscular movement of the bowel. Soluble fibres are almost entirely digested by bacteria to produce more fatty acids while some fibres such as pectin (found in apples, jams and fruits) assist in controlling blood glucose levels and cholesterol. Lignin (a coarse fibre found in root vegetables and pairs) is hardly digested at all and therefore has little effect.
Coarse bran absorbs a large amount of water (resulting in soft faeces). These pass through the large intestine faster than finely ground bran (which absorbs little water and form small hard faeces). Constipation is the result of a diet that is low in fibre and water. Foods that are high in fat are usually low in fibre and vice versa.
Water makes up about 60-70% of our body weight. It serves a variety of vital functions within the body; regulating body temperature; carrying nutrients to the cells; diluting waste products; transporting energy, hormones and antibodies around the body and lubricating surfaces and membranes.
When the body becomes dehydrated it results in decreased performance and can be very dangerous. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include; fatigue; headaches; irritability; reduced performance; darkening of the urine. To prevent dehydration drink at least a gallon of water a day.
The Meltdown Man
I thought Iíd put this in because its and interesting story about what heat exhaustion and dehydration can do to your body.
Mark Dorrity and a group of his friends from Sydney decided to go to Wagga to compete in an 8km fun run. They were all reasonably fit, Mark being a champion runner during university and at the time of the race was training 5 times a day. On the day of the event the temperature rose to about 40 degrees Celsius and the fun run was cancelled. However Mark and his friends as competitive as they were decided to run it anyway. Before the race Mark had a couple of glasses of water but took nothing to drink during the race.
As the race progressed Mark became dehydrated and began suffering from heat exhaustion. Soon his body temperature had risen to 42.8 degrees. When someoneís temperature is this high they are delirious and they ignore the bodies warnings to stop. In less than an hour of running Markís thigh muscles overheated, liquefied and died. One leg has since been amputated at the buttock because of gangrene. Before he collapsed his kidneys failed because his dying muscles had released toxic proteins into his blood, which thickened to a molasses like consistency. Every organ in his body was affected. He suffered brain damage and his lungs could not function unaided. His buttock and hamstring muscles also liquefied but not as severely as his thigh muscles. Marks heart stopped once and after the race he was on a dialysis machine for eight weeks and in a coma for three months. Amazingly after a year Mark fully recovered and is back to normal with no lasting brain damage and only one leg missing.
I think itís an amazing story that makes us aware of the dangers of heat exhaustion and dehydration. After reading this, I never run on days hotter that 32 degrees Celsius.
Meals Before, During and After Exercise.
There has been a bit of debate about this on the forums lately and I thought I would try and add some clarity.
The aim of the pre-event meal is to top up glycogen and protein levels and maintain fluid levels.
If you are doing Continuous Training (eg 20 mins at 70%) then it is fine and more effective to train on an empty stomach before breakfast. If you are performing HIIT (or any other type of interval training) and weights then you should eat before the workout. The question is though, how soon before the workout and what to eat? A general rule is you should not eat within an hour before exercise because as you need to allow for the digestion of food. If you ate a big meal 5 mins before your workout, you would feel extremely tired because the digestive system would be taking all of the blood and energy from your muscles and using it to digest your food.
So the guidelines are donít eat within an hour of your workout. Eat foods that are; high in complex carbs; low fat; have fibre; and will give you adequate fluid intake.
If you must eat within an hour of your workout, have something like Sustagen or Milo because it digests quickly and easily, it empties quickly from the stomach and provides instant energy.
Food and Fluid Intake During Exercise
Because performance is impaired by dehydration the main thing you have to worry about are fluid levels. For exercise under 1 hour water is sufficient. However if you exercise for over an hour carbohydrate replacement may be required in the form of sports drinks like Gatorade. For fat loss goals orientated people, just stick with the water, you donít need the extra calories in sports drinks.
As a general guideline you should consume 150-250ml of fluids for every 15 minutes during exercise.
After any physical activity the body must have a chance to recover. This can be achieved through; replacing muscle glycogen stores, replacing fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat and providing the initial ingredients lost through tissue and muscle repair.
For glycogen replacement it depends on the intensity and duration of exercise but you can speed up the recovery process by consuming carbohydrate rich foods immediately after exercise. High GI foods are effective but people trying to achieve weight loss should stick to low GI foods, which will also be effective.
If you performed weights you will need to repair damaged muscle tissue by consuming foods both high in the Protein and Carbohydrates like a whey protein shake.
For fluid replacement you can tell how much you lost by weighing yourself. If you lost 1kg of weight you need to drink 1-2 litres of water. If you lost 2kg you should drink 2-3 litres. What I usually do is drink 1 litre straight after the workout and in the next hour drink another litre.
What supplements you take is purely a matter of preference and personal needs. If you maintain a healthy, balanced diet you could get away without using any supplements. However if you have the money there are some supplements that taken with a balanced diet can help you reach your goals. In my opinion there are three main supplements that people should take when trying to lose weight.
Whey Protein- Helps you get your daily requirements of protein without eating large amounts of fatty animal products.
L-Glutamine Ė Prevents catabolism of the muscles. In other words it helps you retain muscle mass while cutting. It also boosts your immune system and nourishes your digestive tract.
A Vitamin and Mineral supplement is also useful to ensure you are getting your daily requirements.
Any other supplements you take on top of these is up to you. I also take a fibre supplement to keep me regular and help keep my blood glucose levels stable. This just one that I like to take, many you probably wouldnít need it. Just ensure that before taking any other supplements you have researched them to ensure they are safe and always take the prescribed amount.
Why Alcohol and Weight Loss Donít Mix
Obviously you should not drink alcohol when trying to lose fat. Muscles are unable to use alcohol directly because it must first be metabolised by the liver. Carbohydrates may be displaced from the diet by large amounts of alcohol, as alcohol does not contribute to the formation of muscle glycogen leaving your body short of fuel. Alcohol also increases blood insulin, increasing the action of LPL; the fat storing enzyme and it reduces the action of HSL an enzyme that helps in the breakdown of fat. Alcohol is also a diuretic causing dehydration, which lowers your metabolism.
This has just been a primer, so you should definitely seek out other sources of information in order to increase your knowledge and hence, your chance of success.
A good place to start is the links sticky, which contains a list of the most useful health and fitness related links on the web: http://forums.johnstonefitness.com/s...ad.php?t=12811
JSF member Gravityhomer has also wirtten an excellent little guide to fat loss. He not only touches nutrition, but also cardio, weight training and other components essential to a successful fat loss program: http://forums.johnstonefitness.com/s...ad.php?t=19229
Finally, when using the forum, don't forget to make good use of the search function
. You can be certain than almost any topic relating to health and fitness has already been discussed at length by JSF members.