Good Nutrition: Beyond the Numbers…
Food is more than just fuel, so calorie counting can only give part of the story. It is now undeniably clear that controlling calories is the key factor is weight loss, weight maintenance and weight gain. Beyond that, as a society, it seems we’re growing into the realisation that calories alone aren’t the key factor in “getting in shape”, and macronutrient counting (protein, carbs and fats) is now common practice for any health and fitness enthusiasts working towards body composition goals. GREAT! So now, we know the perfect approach to get the body composition we want:
- Calculate the numbers (how much energy do I need to meet my goals)
- Work out the Macronutrient split
- Download My Fitness Pal or similar calorie tracking software
- Achieve the health, body and lifestyle of your dreams!
DONE. That easy. See you next time…..BUT WAIT! We know it, so why the hell do we STILL struggle to make sustainable change?! Sit back, relax, and read on to find some of THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT NUTRITION AND DIET FOR MAKING A CHANGE.
What do we know about How we change body composition? Weight loss, muscle gain, and THE PERFECT DIET!
First off, let me clear up the facts. This paragraph alone should save you a huge amount of money on trying to find the magic miracle diet, shakes, weight loss pills, or any other super product that FALSLEY claims to be the reason why you are succeeding (which you may choose to re-invest in yourself with FX Fitness Experience PT and performance, or your Yoga Experience- just an option).
So the golden question: what’s the best diet?
Its called the SUPERFOOD SHAKE AND BAKE. Not really, truth is, there isn’t one. At any one time, there’s a huge amount of “diets” that would help you get to your goals, some good, some bad, but the reason why these diets are working (or not) is actually pretty clear. So if you’re getting these basics right, can you guess what the main factor is in success? Actually doing it, consistently.
So what does my diet need to do for me to lose weight? You’re asking the wrong question. But for you to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner that will positively impact fitness, there’s a few key considerations:
- You must create an energy deficit (eg. you must burn off more than you take in).
- You should look to focus on resistance training as a priority, as higher muscle development/ maintenance will have a positive impact on body composition, metabolism, strength, fitness and more.
- You should look to increase protein intake, for the reasons stated above, in addition to the high levels of satiety and TEF.
- You must consider ALL of the factors in part 2 of this article if you want to do it in a healthy manner!
We can make it as simple or as complex as we want, but the key factors are stated above. We know this, and these are the REASONS why diets work. We create an energy deficit in a sustainable manner (the higher the bodyfat, the more aggressively we can implement this deficit), and we look to maintain as much muscle mass as possible whilst doing it. We can do this by intermittent fasting, low carb, low fat, keto, paleo, shakes, and a lot of other diet methods- whatever works for you in a sustainable manner.
So what’s the problem!?
The problems with the current number tracking mentality
We like to think that one we do the maths, complete the formula, and input our goals, the numbers that are generated are the absolute numbers we need to be at. But they’re not, and here are a few reasons why:
- We don’t measure body composition accurately (think about this effecting the formula calculations, and the difficulty in monitoring results).
- The formulas are not absolute numbers, even for resting metabolic rate, they’re estimations based on means.
- When we factor in activity, it’s almost impossible to put a number to it…. Active day= more energy used, stressed= more energy used, training session= more energy used (but maybe not in terms of the daily total), Fidgeting= more energy used… you get the idea.
- Hormonal issues, medical issues, reduced metabolism, energy system preference etc.
But at least we measure intake accurately…… Oh ***t:
- Numbers on the app are wrong
- Weighing/ measuring is wrong
- Food labels are wrong
- Actual calorie content of foods vary
- Lots more
Ok, so the tracking numbers aren’t as accurate as we thought. Anything else?
Yes. Two main points.
Firstly, it’s difficult to do. To track accurately, weighing and measuring food is difficult, it takes time and effort. Not to mention the near impossibility of tracking accurately with a social life? It’s not yet generally acceptable to go out for a meal with family and friends, avoid ordering, drink only water, and pull out the pre-made chicken, broccoli and rice from a food prep backpack. And I for one, hope it never will be.
Secondly, it encourages plain, simple, bland foods, or worse. Tracking difficult to prep meals makes them even more difficult, and we avoid them. This itself isn’t the issue, the issue is a lack of consideration for good nutrition beyond calories and macros. Micronutrients are key to our health and how our body processes energy, yet tracking bland, plain and poor-quality foods can lead to deficiencies. The same goes for prebiotics/ probiotics- there’s no mention of gut bacteria in your macro numbers (you may get a fibre target, that’s generally ignored). That’s not all, but in terms of key considerations to open your mind, it’s a start.
So tracking is useless? No, I’m not saying that. Tracking has some real benefits:
- It gives you an idea on food portion sizes
- It gives an idea on macronutrient and calorie content of foods
- It creates a more mindful approach to eating
- It’s easy to see what’s right/ wrong when you keep a food diary!
The real way we change is to look at what we are doing (the activity log, sleep log, training log and diet log), we look at the results (weight, body comp, photos, other) and make an educated guess on what needs to change (or not!) to get the best results going forward. Tracking food can play a key role in this. But working to exact numbers, long term, less so.
There is another way. Read part 2 to find out how to easily make sustainable change to your nutrition, get great results, look after your health and save time, effort and stress in the process. If the article is live, the link will be below…
Josh Kennedy, MSc, ASCC, Pn1
Read Part 2 now!