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Articles Tagged: macronutrients

Why the IIFYM Approach to Dieting Isn’t Enough

It’s human nature to appeal to labels and neat packaging of ideas. In the fitness and nutrition industry, this is readily apparent.

If you look at most workout programs, they have a name, a brand: Body Pump. Jazzercize. CrossFit. P90x.

The same thing is true with nutrition: the Paleo Diet. Atkins Diet. Clean Eating. IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros).

Labels are convenient because we can wrap said labels around a bunch of ideas and make the ideas appear more cohesive than if we had to track each idea individually. It allows us to understand relatively complex concepts more easily.

In competition prep, nutrition has primarily focused around two pre-packaged ideas: clean eating and IIFYM.

Let’s take a historical trip together down competition prep’s “memory lane.” Continue Reading Why the IIFYM Approach to Dieting Isn’t Enough »

4 Elements of Basic Nutrition

Before you can run, you must walk. Likewise, before you can optimize and perfect your diet, you must fully understand the basic elements of nutrition and how they affect your health and results.

The good news is that basic nutrition is both simple and effective. It’s true that the fitness industry has hopelessly over-complicated nutrition in an effort to justify product differentiation (e.g. “my nutrition system is SO effective because it covers these 3 ‘secret tricks’ that nobody else knows!!!”) that many people feel like they need a master’s degree just to take care of themselves at a basic level.

This is not the case. The fact is I can teach you everything you need to know to cover basic nutrition in about 10 minutes, which I am going to do with this very article. Continue Reading 4 Elements of Basic Nutrition »

3 Mass-Gain Recipes for the Alpha Athlete, Pt. 3

Intro by Coach B: Continuing our bulking recipe series from last week (see part 1 here and part 2 here), this week’s installment includes 3 all-new recipes for your mass-gaining pleasure.

Article Series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5

What’s up all… Coach Tracy here! How has being a passenger on the “gain train” been treating you so far? Here we are, already on part 3 of our bulking recipes series, and luckily for you, I’ve created three new amazing recipes that are easy to make—and even more importantly—easy to eat!

Remember, these recipes are designed to fuel you for growth without making you explode out of your pants if you know what I mean. Why sit down and eat almost 9 cups of green beans when you can have just 2 cups of hash browns for the same amount of carbs and calories? If you’re a hardgainer, you have a fast metabolism, which is a blessing, so let’s use that to our advantage.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me! OK, enough talk! Pick your fork back up and let the gainz begin. Continue Reading 3 Mass-Gain Recipes for the Alpha Athlete, Pt. 3 »

3 Mass-Gain Recipes for the Alpha Athlete, Pt. 2

Intro by Coach B: Continuing our bulking recipe series from last week (see part 1 here), this week’s installment includes 3 all-new recipes for your mass-gaining pleasure.

Remember, if you want to get big, all the weight lifting in the world won’t amount to anything if you’re not in a calorie surplus. Many guys spend so much effort trying to find that magical combination of exercises, sets, reps and/or weekly routine splits, while completely ignoring their calorie intake and falling short of a surplus each day (or at least, many times per week).

They then scratch their head wondering why they can’t grow. But if you think about it logically, it makes sense. Without excess calories, your body has nothing to make new tissue with. It can’t spontaneously appear from the ether… muscle gain (like fat loss) is a byproduct of energy balance and without the energy balance in your favor, you’re on the road to no gainz, baby.

So grab your fork, do a few jaw stretches and get ready to put away some serious calories.

Article Series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5
Continue Reading 3 Mass-Gain Recipes for the Alpha Athlete, Pt. 2 »

Do I Have to Eat a Low Fat Diet?

“I want to lose weight. Do I need to eat a low fat diet?”

This is a common question amongst folks who are looking to get to a healthy weight range.  On this note, I want to start this article off by mentioning that the message here is primarily geared towards the general population, not advanced athletes. Nutritional needs differ for special populations and what helps the average person get healthy can be quite different from what helps the athlete get into peak condition and to perform at the best of his/her ability.

The low-fat diet is one of many approaches taken over the past several decades to ending America’s ever growing obesity and cardiovascular disease epidemics. Because of the strong push by dietitians to lower dietary fat intake to allegedly lower the risk of arterial clogging, high blood pressure, diabetes and of course, to lower body weight, people have become almost afraid of fat and actively avoid foods that contain it–particularly saturated fat, which is demonized by the health industry.

Today, there are aisles and aisles with low fat or fat free products in the supermarkets which only reassure us that all fat is evil and we mustn’t eat it. The thought goes: low fat products are healthy, and higher fat products aren’t. Seems pretty clear cut, right? Continue Reading Do I Have to Eat a Low Fat Diet? »

Avoid Anyone Who Preaches Nutritional Extremism

The fitness industry has been in an uproar the past year about not only whether strict dieting is the best approach to health and fitness, but if it’s an approach that has any advantages or relevance at all. This is in large part thanks to a series of video logs put out by Dr. Layne Norton last year, in which he lambasted “fitness gurus” who preach about “clean eating” and overly-oppressive, dogmatic diets.

The videos were mainly geared toward those prepping for fitness competitions and some of the voodoo-type myths that persist in that particular area of nutrition. As a side note, and somewhat ironically, his own concepts of “metabolic damage” and “metabolic capacity” that were one of the main subjects of these videos have been argued to potentially fall into the very category he was criticizing, which can be read about in this article.

A few months after Dr. Norton’s video series came out, another game-changing event took place in the form of a retrospective analysis of a large collection of prior studies that had supported the idea of a narrow “window of opportunity” post-workout. Essentially during this “window,” an athlete could allegedly maximize muscle gain by ingesting fast-absorbing protein (like whey protein supplements) as quickly as possible following their workout.

After controlling for important variables, such as the total daily volume of protein ingested (something that hadn’t previously been equated in the test and control groups, nor had been compared between individual studies), it was shown that the statistically-significant results that had previously been attributed to this narrow window of opportunity were in fact, related to total protein intake rather than the immediacy of ingestion post workout. In other words, eating MORE protein in general each day is much more important when it comes to muscle gain than how quickly after your workout you eat that protein. Continue Reading Avoid Anyone Who Preaches Nutritional Extremism »

The 5 Steps of the Nutrition Principle Pyramid, Pt. 3

So far we’ve discussed the first—and most important—two steps of the nutritional pyramid—habits and calories. These two steps must be implemented successfully before we can worry about steps 3, 4 and 5, so if you haven’t already implemented both of those successfully, I strongly recommend starting at Part 1 and going from there.

For those of you who are already caught up (both with the reading AND the implementation), today we’re going to talk about the 3rd step, macronutrient ratios.

Tip 3. Optimizing macronutrient ratios.

In a way, the term “ratio” is somewhat of a misnomer, only because we don’t really take that approach when initially determining what the macro amounts should be. A better term might be “grams of each macronutrient” but that doesn’t really seem to flow off the tongue quite as well, so “macro ratios” it is. Continue Reading The 5 Steps of the Nutrition Principle Pyramid, Pt. 3 »

Top Recommended Supplements and Their Uses

I’m not big on supplement use. I feel like most supplements are either utterly useless, supported only by hype-filled marketing tactics, or are misused, either in situations they’re not intended or useful in, or used as a crutch for poor nutritional habits.

As such, my general recommendation is to focus on diet and exercise first, and avoid getting drawn into the supplementation trap.

However, there are exceptions to that rule, and once someone DOES reach that point, I will admit that there are a few supplements that can help performance and/or results that you can take a look at. Just remember, all the extra-credit in the world won’t help your grade if you never do your homework. The analogy applies to diet/supplementation directly if you think about it.

So, which supplements do I recommend, and when? Continue Reading Top Recommended Supplements and Their Uses »

Carbohydrate Intake and Timing Strategies to Maximize Results

“Carbohydrates are the devil and will end your life early!” Obviously, this statement is nonsense, but in this day and age many people seem to take it as fact. Probably because a TON of people posing as nutrition experts insist that carbohydrates make people fat.

This is misinformation and needs to be cleared up for once and for all, so here we go. By the way, this is also habit #5 out of 6 we will be covering in this series, so read on and implement what you learn.

I’m going to keep this explanation fairly simple so it’s easy to read, but gets to the point.

When ingested, carbohydrates cause the body to respond by releasing insulin into the blood stream—a hormone responsible for shuttling the broken down carbohydrates (which break into molecules of sugar) into the cells to be used for energy production (immediate or stored energy depending on what the body needs at the time). Continue Reading Carbohydrate Intake and Timing Strategies to Maximize Results »

Healthy Fats are Critical to Optimal Health, Physique and Performance

The bad news is that you’ve been lied to all this time about what constitutes a healthy diet, by the very people you trust most.

The good news is today we’re going to destroy one of the biggest myths surrounding healthy nutrition that has likely resulted in MORE obesity, MORE heart disease and MORE hormonal issues than any other nutritional misinformation since the Dark Ages.

I’m talking about the role that dietary fat plays in our health.

“Don’t eat fat! It causes heart disease, high cholesterol and worst of all, it makes you FAT!”

How many times have you heard this? How many times have you gone down the aisles at the store, seeing row after row of “healthy” “low-fat” or “no-fat” options? If they say healthy on them, they must be, right? Continue Reading Healthy Fats are Critical to Optimal Health, Physique and Performance »