OK, so you’ve decided to make it your goal to get fit. You’ve gone out and bought yourself some nice workout clothes, and that year membership at the gym to show that you’re are committed. That’s awesome, just one question…what is your goal? No war or battle has ever been won without a strategy. Before you can take action, you need plan. You need to figure out what it is you want to, to burn fat or build muscle? Not only that, you’d probably also want to know how to burn fat and build muscle as quickly as possible. Whatever it is, plotting out a course of action will help make your goals attainable, and I’m going to help you. Let’s start by talking about nutrition and debunking the myth surrounding it.
When it comes to health and fitness, many people claim that we should “eat clean” and avoid junk food like ice cream, candy,pizza etc…Even though the information seemed sound and believable, I cried my eyes out at the thought of giving up pizza, but I believed it to be a necessary sacrifice at the time to achieve my goal. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and say to myself “Wow, you are one sexy beast”. So, I cut out pretty much all the junk food I would normally eat and just stuck to healthy foods. For a couple of months I was happy with what I saw, soon after however, things began to slow down and eventually came to a screeching halt. I just kept going because I figured that doing something was better than nothing. Finally, I became frustrated and went back to basics just like with my workouts. After my research, I discovered that when it comes to dieting, it’s more about how much you eat rather than what you eat. To show you that I’m not crazy or out of my mind, let me introduce you to Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University. He conducted a weight loss study where he limited his calorie intake to 1800 after calculating that his body burns about 2600 calories a day. Here’s the kicker though, the majority of his diet consisted of junk food. While he did eat some vegetables and drank a daily protein shake, Professor Mark mostly ate foods such as Twinkies, Doritos, and Oreo’s. You’re probably thinking that he contracted diabetes, or at least got bigger, however, you would be wrong. In 2 months, he lost 27 pounds and dropped to 24.9% body fat from 33.4%. Not only that, his LDL (bad cholesterol) decreased by 20% while his HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 20%. Now don’t think this means you can pile your shopping cart full of junk food during your next grocery run, however, be happy that can you still enjoy your favorite foods from time to time. When it comes to bulking, cutting or just simple weight loss, it all comes down this…
Calories Consumed – Calories Burned = Weight Loss/Gain
A calorie is defined as a unit of energy. Everyday we consume calories in the form of food and drinks to provide our bodies with the energy and nutrition they need to perform our daily tasks. To calculate the total number of calories our bodies burn, we need to calculate our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of energy your body uses while it’s in a resting state. Here, we can use Katch McArdle’s formula as followed: BMR = 370 + (21.6 * LBM). The LBM in this formula represents our Lean Body Mass which is the nonfat potions of our bodies. In the formula, lean body mass is in kg. To calculate LBM, we can use the following formula: LBM = (1 – Body Fat% in decimals) * Your Body Weight. Once you’ve figured out your BMR, you need to then calculate for Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). The more active you are, the higher your TDEE is. If you are active for 1 -3 hours a week, multiply your BMR by 1.2, for 4 – 6 hours, multiply by 1.35, and for over 6 hours multiply by 1.5. I work as a bank teller, however, I’m on my feet for the majority of the work day. I also go to the gym for about an hour and do 30 – 45 minutes of intense cardio 5 days a week. If you don’t want to take the long route of calculating your TDEE or if math just isn’t your strong suit, click here to get a rough estimate on your TDEE. From there, I highly recommend that you keep an eye on your meals and calorie intake to make sure you’re not eating too much or too little. You can use Microsoft Excel or the MyFitnessPal app (if you have a smartphone) to to plan and track your meals and your macro-nutrients
Get The Most Out of Your Macro-Nutrients
To reach your goals, it’s important take in the right amount of macro-nutrients: Protein, carbs and dietary fat. Protein and Carbs contain 4 calories per gram, while fat contains 9 calories per gram.
When building and preserving muscle, a high protein diet is necessary. The body breaks down protein into amino acids which are used to build muscle tissue. Those who workout regularly, like myself, need a higher amount protein, especially if you do weightlifting. In exercising, we damage our muscle fibers, and we need the amino acids from protein to repair them. This study states that eating up to 0.8 grams of protein per body weight should be optimal for the majority of the population. However, for athletes and those who do high-intensity training on a regular basis, a higher protein intake is recommended. According to this study, when dieting to lose fat, it’s recommended that athletes and those who workout on a regular should consume about 1 gram or more of protein per body weight . So any Great sources of protein are eggs, chicken and protein powders (such as whey and casein).
Another common piece of information we’ve all heard is that we should cut out carbohydrates in order to get ripped. However, carbs are important for the body and muscle growth. When we eat carbs, our bodies either break it down into glucose which is energy for the body. Some of the glucose turns into glycogen and is stored in the muscles. When we lift weights, the glycogen in our muscles gets depleted. By eating carbs, not only do we refill our muscles with glycogen, but we improve our performance in the gym and everywhere else and we greatly reduce muscle breakdown from exercise. Now carbs can be found in everything that we eat, but they’re not all the same. The glycemic index is a numeric system that ranks on a scale from 0 – 100 how fast the body converts carbs into glucose. A GI (Glycemic Index) rank of 55 and under is considered low, a rank of 56 – 69 is medium, and a rank of 70 and above are high. Simple carbs (such as, sucrose, white bread, candy bars and other junk foods) are converted into glucose rapidly and therefore have a high GI rating, while complex carbs ( such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, brown rice and other healthy foods) are converted into glucose slowly and have low GI ratings. I’m pretty sure you know where I’m going with this. While it’s OK to eat some simple carbs, we should get most of our nutrition from complex carbs. In terms of how much carbs you should eat, a study shows that as long as protein intake was high, their was no major difference in weight loss between low-carb and high-carb diets. However I’m taking the road of the high-carb diet because according to the study conducted at the University of North Carolina, the men who combined exercising with a low-carb diet showed an increase cortisol levels and decreased testosterone levels. Cortisol is considered the stress hormone and it breaks down muscle tissue. If you’re physically active and lift weights on a regular basis, then a high (good) carb diet would be good for you. However, if your body is more still, then a low carb plan would be better.
Dietary fat is another important macro-nutrient that we need to have in our diets. Even though it gets a bad reputation, fats provide many benefits to the body such as supporting brain function, boosting immune system and regulating hormone levels. We should already be aware of the different types of fat that’s found in food: trans, saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the good fats that we need to consume more off. According to the American Heart Association, both of these fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Foods high in polyunsaturated fats are soy bean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil and fish oil, and foods high in monounsaturated fat are olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sesame oil. Trans fat intake should be as low as possible or taken out of your diet completely. According to research, intake of trans fat increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fat. And last but not least is saturated fat. Saturated fat was also believed to be a cause of heart disease, but research shows there’s no correlation between the two. There’s no set amount of how much saturated fat we can intake. However, it is recommended that we get about 20% – 30% our calorie intake from dietary fat, and that only 10% should come from saturated fat.
Do HIIT Cardio
HIIT ( high intensity interval training) is training where you do quick bursts of intense workouts followed by a short period of rest. HIIT cardio greatly boosts metabolism which allows you to burn more calories and fat quicker. High intensity interval training also triggers the “afterburn effect” which is when you’re still burning calories even after the workout because of your elevated resting metabolic rate. A study conducted at Laval University had one group follow a 15- week HIIT program while the other followed a 20 week steady-state cardio program. The group that did HIIT lost more body fat than the steady-state group.
Finally, whether you are bulking or cutting, it’s absolutely important to weight lift. I’ve talked about the benefits of lifting heavy weights and the lifts you need to incorporate into your routine. So instead of repeating myself, read it here.
There you have it. Have any questions or thoughts you’d like to add, drop a comment below. Looking forward to hear from you…