Nutrition – Keeping It Simple
So you’ve started back at the gym, are training regularly but not seeing the results you want. One word – nutrition! Whether your goal is to gain weight or lose fat, supplementing training with correct nutrition is pertinent.
Calories In Vs. Calories Out
The first step is to decide whether your goal is:
- Weight loss – calorie deficit (reducing calories/’cutting’)
- Maintenance – no change in calories
- Weight gain – calories surplus (increasing calories/’bulking’)
If your goal is to lose or gain weight, the best place to start is to record your daily calories – an easy way to do this is using a mobile app such as MyFitnessPal. Be accurate with measurements (such as grams of rice, pasta etc.) and include everything consumed such as sauces, butter and drinks. From there increase/decrease calories for weight gain or weight loss accordingly.
Macronutrients are found in our main food sources and are called ‘macro’ as we need these in large amounts. There are 3 macronutrients – Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats, and how we consume these will generally depend on our fitness goals. What are the differences?
|Macronutrient||Calories/gram||Primary Function||Food Sources|
|Protein||4||Build and repair body tissue (including muscle repair)||Meat, Eggs, Fish, Chickpeas|
|Carbohydrates||4||Source of energy for high intensity activities||Bread, rice, pasta, vegetables|
|Fats||9||Protects vital organs and transportation of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K)||Avocado, nuts, seeds, fish|
For weight training, adequate amounts of protein are required for muscle repair. For those of you looking to gain weight, you can opt for food higher in fat to meet your daily calorie target. Alternatively, those with a weight loss goal should opt for smaller portions of fats to reduce calorie intake.
Micronutrients are made up of vitamins and minerals; and cover a multitude of functions including energy production, growth and immune function. Inverse to the above, they are called ‘micro’ as we need them in smaller amounts. Many micronutrients can be found in vegetables and due to the low-calorie content (with some exceptions such as potatoes) it allows us to eat these in larger portions. Below are some of the primary micronutrients, their sources and function in the body.
|Micronutrient||Primary Function||Food Sources|
|Vitamin B12||Formation/maintenance of healthy nerve cells, red bloods cells and DNA synthesis||Red meat, eggs|
|Vitamin C||Improves iron absorption||Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetable, peppers|
|Vitamin A||Immune system development||Carrots, broccoli, fish, meat, eggs, avocado|
|Vitamin D||Healthy bones||Dairy products, carrots, fish, broccoli, The Sun|
|Vitamin E||Antioxidant in the body||Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds|
|Vitamin K||Blood clotting||Leafy green vegetables|
|Iron||Transport and storage of oxygen||Red meat, spinach, broccoli|
|Calcium||Maintaining strong bones and teeth||Milk, broccoli, spinach, cheese, rhubarb|
|Magnesium||Energy production and glycolysis||Spinach, nuts, seeds, wholegrains|
All in all, nutrition is an important part of our health and incorporating adequate amounts of macro- and micronutrients in your daily calories will allow help in reaching your health and fitness goals.