Have you every started out on a health kick, only to find yourself falling off the bandwagon a few short weeks later?
Let me guess, for the first few weeks your motivation levels were sky high, your diet was on point and you probably saw some promising results from all the work you were putting into the gym… but as time went on and other commitments got in the way, you began to fall off track with your diet.
Chances are the diet protocol you were following eliminated your favourite foods, set unrealistic standards, and compromised your social life.
Admittedly, these highly restrictive diet protocols can be pretty bland. Furthermore, they give you very little flexibility or freedom to enjoy other (tastier!) foods.
Inevitably over time you become torn between the body you want and the lifestyle you enjoy… it’s either all or nothing… and the easier option is to avoid all the stress associated with ‘clean eating’ and give up.
…but it doesn’t have to be that way…
The reality is that real people in the real world don’t have the same amount of time as a professional fitness model or bodybuilder.
At WM360 we believe that fitness should be one facet of your life, but not the all-consuming focus.
Consequently, we are advocates of a more flexible approach to dieting which allows real people to get real results whilst they get on with their real lives eating real food that tastes good.
Unfortunately, the fitness industry is awash with an extensive range of highly confusing and highly restrictive diet protocols that are unrealistic for a real person to follow if they want to achieve sustainable results.
Furthermore, it can be difficult at times to determine what aspects of your diet are of most importance relative to others to achieve great results.
Should you cut carbs out from your diet all together?
Should you be fasting for half the day to lose weight?
Should you only be eating ‘clean’ foods if you want to drop fat?
If you’ve asked these sorts of questions at one point or another on your fitness journey, then today’s article is for YOU!
This week are going to be breaking through the ambiguity and focusing on the basic Principles of Nutrition and The Pyramid of Nutrition Priorities.
Whether you want to build muscle and bulk up or drop body fat and cut down you need to get your priorities straight from the outset. The Pyramid of Nutrition Priorities by Eric Helms outlines the key factors that you should consider when looking to manipulate your body composition in ascending order (from the bottom to the top) from most importance to least importance.
The Pyramid Of Nutrition Priorities
We are going to cover off which each level of The Pyramid means and the role that it plays in you getting the results that you want.
#1 - Calories: Energy Balance
Your Energy Balance forms the foundation of The Pyramid and should be your highest priority above all other factors.
The fundamental way in which you can gain weight, drop weight, or maintain weight is by adjusting your ENERGY BALANCE. It’ a simple case of Calories In vs Calories Out.
Calories are units of energy found in food which our body uses to fuel itself and survive. Irrespective of your goal, whether you are trying to ‘bulk up’, ‘tone up’, ‘get lean’ or ‘get shredded’ unless you are accounting for your caloric intake you are essentially flying blind.
To make it easier for you to understand you can imagine your Energy Balance is like a seesaw.
Choose Your Fitness Goal
#2 - MacroNutrients
Once you have accounted for your energy balance (daily caloric intake) it is important to determine how you distribute your calories based on your specific macro-nutritional requirements. There are 3 major macronutrients that can be derived from the food that you eat which you must account for:
Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.
We will cover these macros in greater depth in the coming weeks, but this is a very basic breakdown of what each macronutrient does…
PROTEIN: 1g of Protein = 4 kCals - Protein helps build and repair muscle.
CARBOHYDRATES: 1g of Carb’s = 4 kCals – Carb’s are the body’s preferred fuel source for energy.
FATS: 1g of Fats = 9 kCal’s – Fats help to regulate hormones and ensure good overall general health and wellbeing.
#3 - Micronutrients & Fibre
The quality of the food that you eat is also an important factor to consider but when it comes to manipulating your body composition it’s not as important as Calories and Macros.
To ensure long- term sustainability with your dietary protocol you should exercise flexibility with your food choices. At Workout Meals we are advocates of the 80:20 Principle.
- 80% of your daily calories should be derived from minimally processed, micro-nutrient dense food sources (e.g., lean meats, fresh fruit, and vegetables, etc.).
- 20% of your daily calories should be derived from foods you enjoy eating but might not necessarily fit under the “clean eating” category.
As a rule of thumb, you should aim to eat at least 3-4 servings of fruit and 3-4 servings of vegetables each day to account for the vitamins and minerals which your body needs to be healthy and function properly.
It’s also important at this level to focus on the Fibre
Fibre The main role of fibre is to keep the digestive system healthy
#4 - Meal Frequency & Timing
The number of meals you have throughout the day and the time at which you have these meals can come down to personal preference and what works in with your lifestyle. Provided you are hitting your daily calorie and macronutritional requirements the number of meals you consume is at your discretion.
A dietary protocol which outlines an onerous expectation to eat every hour or two can be problematic and unsustainable for many individuals. However, as a rule of thumb, you should ideally aim to have anywhere between 3-6 meals/ day spaced out evenly every 3-4 hours or so.
#5 - Supplements
The fifth and final priority to consider is Supplements. It is important to appreciate and understand that Supplements are designed to do just that, ‘supplement’ a diet which should already be made up of minimally processed, micronutrient-dense foods. Supplements are the icing on the cake. Remember that whilst supplements have their their place as part of your dietary protocol, they are designed specifically to support a diet not replace one.
Unless you have your priorities in check before you start your fitness journey there is a higher likelihood that you will struggle to reach your fitness goals.
- If you’re eating “clean foods” (Level 3 – Micronutrients) but you’re not accounting for the portion sizes, you are eating them in and their associated caloric value (Level 1 – Calories) you’ve got to get your priorities in order.
- If you’ve invested in the latest ‘fat burner’ supplement (Level 5 – Supplements) but you’re not hitting your macros consistently each day (Level 2 – Macronutrients) you’ve got to get your priorities in order.
- If you’re fasting until 12pm (Level 4 – Meal Frequency & Timing) but you’re not sure what your daily budget of calories are to remain in a calorie deficit (Level 1 – Calories) you’ve got to get your priorities in order.
We will be covering all levels of The Pyramid in greater depth over the coming weeks but take the opportunity this week to read up on The Pyramid of Nutrition Priorities because it forms the foundation of our dieting principles at WM360. As you read more you may discover some of the reasons why you’ve struggled to reach your fitness goals up until this point in time.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR DIETING SUCCESS
Do you want to maximise your results and fast-track your progress so you can reach your fitness goals more efficiently? Try these top five tips that will springboard you towards dieting success.
TIP #1: Plan
Schedule in a time at the start of each week (Saturday/ Sunday) to plan out your week of eating in advance using My Fitness Pal.
At WM360 we have provided you with a personalised meal plan that provides with a suggested guide on how you might like to organise and plan out your day of eating in line with your daily calorie and macronutritional requirements. However, one of the goals of this program is to get you to a stage where you are designing your own meal plans autonomously.
Follow this step-by-step process to get started:
STEP 1: Review your personalised meal plan and begin the process of entering the foods in each meal into My Fitness Pal.
STEP 2: Adjust the portion sizes of each food source until your daily totals are within 5-10g of each macro target set for you (see the WM360 App for your Daily Nutrition Goal).
STEP 3: Repeat this process until you have the next 7 days of eating planned out and logged in My Fitness Pal.
STEP 4: If circumstances change and you are forced to eat differently on a particular day all you need to do is remove/ delete that meal and search for the alternative foods that you consumed instead.
IMPORTANT: Even if you can’t weigh things out accurately when you’re ‘on the go’, take a photo of the meal and then do your best to guesstimate portion sizes later when you’re making amendments in My Fitness Pal.
Tip #2: Prep
Schedule in a time to shop and prep the customer-made meals and snacks that you’ll be eating to complement your Workout Meals.
At WM360 we have prepared and delivered a range of ready-made meals to your door, but you’ll still need to fill the gaps to hit your daily macro targets. In your personalised meal plan we have provided you with several easy-to-make snacks and meals that you’ll need to prepare yourself. Don’t worry! We know that time is of the essence, so every effort has been made to keep these snacks and meals quick and efficient.
Feel free to make your own snacks! Simply log the foods you intend on eating into My Fitness Pal and adjust the portion sizes until you hit within 5-10g of your daily macro targets.
IMPORTANT: Purchase a set of digital food scales so that you can accurately weigh out the portion sizes of your customer-made snacks and meals.
Tip #3: Track
Track your macros using My Fitness Pal each day.
You should have already planned out your week of eating in advance (see Tip #1), but should things change on the day (you have a client lunch, a family dinner, an impromptu brunch with your bestie, etc.) all you need to do is make some adjustments where appropriate. Even if you can’t weigh things out accurately when you’re ‘on the go’, take a photo of the meal and then do your best to guesstimate portion sizes later when you’re making amendments in My Fitness Pal.
Tip #4: Consistency
Strive for CONSISTENCY over perfection.
If you slip up or fall off track at any point don’t make the mistake of rolling down the hill! Life’s not perfect and you’re not perfect (we’re not expecting you to be perfect either 😉). So, if you do overindulge don’t judge yourself and dwell on things for too long. The best thing you can do is dust yourself off and get back on track as efficiently as possible.
Tip #5: Patience & Process
Be patient with your progress and channel your energies into the process.
Your rate of progression can be impacted and influenced by a wide range of factors. In a perfect world your progress would move in a linear fashion in a downward trajectory from the very first moment you started your fitness journey… but life isn’t perfect… and you may find that your progress will plateau from time-to-time. When this happens you need to exercise patience and focus on the variables that are within your control that will have an impact on the final outcome. These include the healthy habits, behaviours, and routines inherent in the process required to elicit further fat loss.
Examples of The Process:
- Tracking your macros accurately using MyFitnessPal each day so you are compliant to your dietary goals.
- Hitting your daily water target to keep your body well hydrated and suppress hunger levels.
- Hitting your daily step count to increase your daily energy expenditure.
- Scheduling in a set bedtime each night and sticking to it so your body can recover and make body composition changes.