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

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

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.