Tuesday, October 08, 2013 • Port Washington, NY 11050
It goes without saying that the best way to eat is to have 'meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.' Trust me, I've experimented with every fad diet there is, as well as the recommendations from the FDA, and ultimately my results went up exponentially when I subscribed to the above. However, there's an emphasis today on what quantity of each macronutrient one should ingest on a daily basis. But first, to answer your two main questions from above.. 1) The introductory quote from above was coined by Greg Glassman, creator and CEO of the most popular current fitness craze: CrossFit. CrossFitters subscribe to one of either the Paleo or Zone Diets. While these do have some distinct differences, overall the key is to eat natural foods that you'd find at the edges of your grocery store. The notion behind this is if the product you're selecting has a nutritional label, it's not considered 'real food,' as it has been processed to some degree. When I began adopting the above as my primary source of eating and nutrition, I saw immediate results regarding building muscle, strength, recovery and energy day-to-day. There's a reason the Ancient Greeks looked the way they did; eat what we should be eating, and you're taking a giant step towards getting to where you want to be. Eat crap (like most Americans do), then that's what you'll look like. 2) What is a macronutrient? Macronutrients are the three primary nutrients that human beings ingest on a regular basis through food and food supplements. These include: carbs, proteins and fats. We'll get into what types of macronutrients should make up your diet, as well as how much of each, below... Carbs - These should primarily be made up of vegetables and some fruits. While no vegetable or fruit is particularly bad for you, some are more 'high-glycemic' than 'low-glycemic,' and should be ingested at varied times throughout the week. For example, you might have heard that you should ingest some fruit about 30 minutes prior to exercise. The key is to get some sugar and carbs into your bloodstream to help sustain energy throughout the course of your workout. But why is one type of fruit worse than the other when both will initially accomplish the same thing? The answer lies in the high-and-low glycemic qualities of the fruit. According to Dr. Jim Stoppani, a highly respected scientist in the world of fitness and nutrition, the best fruit to eat 30 minutes prior to a workout is an apple. Apples are low-glycemic fruits, and tend to have a slower release rate of sugar into your bloodstream. This enables your body to sustain its sugar and energy levels during exercise without the risk of a crash. High-glycemic fruits like bananas may help initially, but may set you up for burnout and a sugar high/crash while still in the process of exercise. However, bananas can be useful carbs when ingested at the appropriate times. Due to bananas' high-glycemic properties, these are great to include as a post-workout snack. The sugar will go directly to your bloodstream, aiding in muscle recovery immediately after a workout. Pick your battles with these different types of fruits, and you should be ok. But what about whole grains that can be found in 'healthy' breads and pastas? Why aren't these included in the above? This is because whole grains are processed to some degree, and aren't considered 'real' or 'natural.' Now, I'll admit, I eat whole grain bread on a fairly regular basis, but I saw my best results when I laid off the grains altogether. Minimize whole grains, and you'll see far superior results than when you keep these out of your diet. Proteins - This section should be much shorter than carbs, as this is easier to follow. You want to eat LEAN cuts of meat like chicken, steak, ground beef, turkey and fish. Typically, your grocery store will show the 'lean content,' so try to stay as lean as possible (I recommend 90% lean or more). Tuna (preferably albacore) is a great snack at minimal calories from a protein perspective. It's important that you use the right protein supplements to aid your body in recovery and muscle growth. Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein that's great to have both pre-and-post workout. Whey prepares your muscles to do work, build muscle and aid in recovery. Another great protein source is casein protein. This is best taken post-workout and before bed, as this is a slow-digesting protein. By taking these two proteins (whey and casein) during training days, your body will be in the best possible position to do work, build muscle and recover from the stresses you've placed on it. I recommend (at minimum) two protein supplements: one 100% whey pre-workout and one combining whey and casein post-workout. To maximize results, you may also want to purchase a 100% casein supplement to ingest before bed. However, fat free milk has a great deal of casein, so a glass of milk before bed can have very similar benefits. Fats - These should come primarily from nuts and seeds, as well as fatty fish. Things like mayonnaise should be avoided, as this is a processed and high-glycemic form of fat that doesn't provide any real health benefit to you. Fatty fish and fish oils are great sources of Omega-3 fats, which have been scientifically proven to aid in muscle and joint recovery, as well as improved cognition over the course of a work day. The Daily Breakdown of Your Macros: I recommend a 40% carb/30% protein/30% fat breakdown of your diet. An easy way to track this is to use a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal. When you find you're a little off-track from a macronutrient-perspective, you should now have a better idea of what types of foods to eat to get you closer to balance.