Nutrition Essay, Research Paper
?Nutrition 101: Back to Basics
If you go into any gym in the world and randomly ask 100 people to pinpoint the most important thing for achieving success in bodybuilding and fitness, you’d probably get just as many different answers. Most replies, however, would involve various training programs or styles.
As important as training is, nutrition plays an equally large role — your diet is almost always responsible for either success or failure in bodybuilding and virtually any fitness program. Here I’ll present a basic nutrition program that includes some key tips on nutritional timing, metabolic enhancement and preferred food and supplement choices. This program can teach you how to determine your daily protein, carbohydrate, fat and caloric needs. So get your calculators and notebooks ready; back-to-basics Nutrition 101 is about to begin.
DAILY CALORIC INTAKE
Before we examine the various macronutrients, let’s look at the common denominator that links all types of foods: calories. This is a topic that has been used and abused a lot over the past several years. At one point, high-calorie diets were in, then low-calorie diets came back in fashion. The same holds true for protein, carbohydrate and fat. Opinions seem to change all the time.
The following formula, on the other hand, is tried and true. If you follow it and make adjustments as needed, you can’t help but achieve nutritional nirvana. Unlike many of the complex formulas for figuring daily caloric needs that have been introduced, my formula is a simple, effective method.
If your goal is to add muscle while not adding bodyfat, or even slowly eliminating bodyfat, multiply your weight (in pounds) by 13, 14 or 15 — 13 if you have a slow metabolism, 14 for a moderate metabolism and 15 for a fast metabolism. For hardgainers or those who simply want to gain weight, multiply your weight by 16, 17 or 18 according to the same metabolic progression. If your aim is to lose fat, multiply your current bodyweight by 10, 11 or 12 — again, 10 if you have a slow metabolism, 11 for a moderate metabolism and 12 for a fast metabolism
Use this as a starting point; you may need to adjust your caloric intake by 50–100 calories per day if you plateau and have trouble achieving your desired goals. This formula also works nicely as a starting point for bodybuilders who want to calculate their varying caloric needs over the course of a year. Precontest bodybuilders would multiply their desired bodyweight by 10, 11 or 12, according to their metabolism. Off-season bodybuilders would multiply their current or desired weight by any number from 13 to 18, depending on how fast their metabolism is and how lean they want to stay in the off-season. This formula works equally well for both men and women.
THE MACRONUTRIENT MIX
After figuring your daily caloric needs, you’ll want to figure out how many grams of protein, carbohydrate and fat you should take in per day. Roughly 30%–35% of your calories should come from protein, 50%–60% from carbohydrate and 10%–15% from fat. Each gram of protein or carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories, while each gram of fat has 9 calories. Ration your calories somewhat equally throughout 5–6 meals or more per day. Higher-calorie postworkout meals are a good idea.
Although I won’t discuss vitamins and minerals in detail, I do recommend that everyone take some type of multivitamin or mineral pack every day. This supplementation provides daily insurance and eliminates the worry of meeting required needs for general health and recovery.
Protein is essential for the repair and growth of muscle tissue. The amino acids derived from proteins form the building blocks of all cells in the human body. Without protein, your organs, hair, nails, immune system and every other bodily system wouldn’t survive.
Bodybuilders need to take in enough protein to carry out the body’s day-to-day functions and fuel muscle recovery. Daily requirements for active people have been disputed for years between sports-medicine professionals and those who set the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances. My personal opinion, supported and accepted by many sports nutritionists and bodybuilding experts, is 1–1 1/2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Any less and your recovery and growth will suffer; higher amounts don’t seem to offer any additional benefits.
Remember, your protein intake should be approximately 30%–35% of your total caloric intake. A 200-pound man who eats 2,600 calories per day, then, should consume about 215 grams of protein each day. This equals roughly 33% of his total calories. A 105-pound woman who eats 1,575 calories per day should consume roughly 130 grams of protein daily, or about 33% of her total calories.
Divide your protein intake fairly equally throughout all your meals. If our 200-pound man consumes six meals a day, he’d want to consume 30–40 grams of protein per meal. If our 105-pound female eats six meals daily, she’d want to consume 20–25 grams of protein per meal. Good sources of protein include lean turkey and chicken, white fish, lean red meat, egg whites and protein powders.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source. For the purpose of this article, we can break them down into two categories: simple and complex carbs. Complex carbs should represent the majority of your dietary carbohydrates, except in postworkout meals. Complex carbs break down slowly and elicit a mild blood-sugar response; they don’t result in a rapid release of insulin by the pancreas.
Eating simple carbs elicits a rapid rise in blood sugar, which can result in increased insulin secretion and a commensurate fall in your blood-sugar levels. This can make you feel sluggish and tired, but during the two-hour period following your workout — often considered the postworkout window of opportunity — your body and muscles are very receptive to simple sugars. Increasing your insulin levels at this time by consuming simple carbs can refill your depleted muscle glycogen stores and help you recover and feel revived from an intense workout.
Some experts believe that 60%–80% of your glycogen replenishment (carbohydrate storage and replacement) needs to take place within 1–3 hours after you finish training. In other words, the quicker you can get carbohydrates into those hungry muscles, the better your chances of having a great workout the next time. But remember, this is the only ideal time to eat simple carbs. At all other times, complex carbs will help you sustain energy levels that deliver a steady flow of glucose to the muscle.
Carbohydrates should make up 50%–60% of your daily calories. As with proteins, space your carbs evenly throughout the day’s meals. A good ratio is 2–3 grams of carbohydrate to 1 gram of protein in your two postworkout meals and 1–1 1/2 grams of carbohydrate to 1 gram of protein in your other meals. I mention two postworkout meals because one should be consumed immediately at the gym, usually in drink or bar form, while the other should come about 60–90 minutes later in the form of a meal. These two meals should represent 30%–45% of your total calories and carbohydrates for the day.
Beginners can benefit from this tip used by many advanced bodybuilders: Try consuming approximately half a gram of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight in each postworkout meal. If you eat a higher-carb preworkout meal (60–90 minutes before training), adjust your other meals’ ratios to balance out your daily percentages. Some great sources of complex carbohydrate include whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, beans, corn, green and yellow vegetables, shredded wheat, yams, sweet potatoes and whole-grain, pumpernickel or rye breads. Good simple-carbohydrate choices for your postworkout meal include sports drinks, apples, bananas or oranges.
Most of the fat you need should be provided naturally in your daily diet. If your fat intake is extremely low (below 10%), however, you may be putting your health at risk. Take one tablespoon of flaxseed, olive or safflower oil or even eat a handful of peanuts just to make sure you get some essential fatty acids, which play a role in growth, recovery and day-to-day well-being. One tablespoon per day of a combination oil that contains omega-3, omega-6 and gamma-linolenic acid would probably benefit most anyone. More and more research continues to prove the importance of essential fatty acids in our diets. My recommendation is that your daily caloric intake consist of 10%–15% fat.
At one time or another you’ve probably been warned not to eat anything right before going to bed or in the middle of the night because it will turn immediately to fat. I don’t think this is true, particularly if you limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat.
One of the biggest mistakes a bodybuilder can make is to go 10 or more hours without eating. If you eat every 2–4 hours during the day to prevent catabolism, what logic could convince you to fast every night for 10–12 hours while you sleep? This may be the easiest way to interrupt recovery and growth on a daily basis. Instead, eat a small, protein-based meal 1–2 times during the course of the evening.
Although carbs aren’t all that important during the night, small amounts should be consumed with your meals to aid in protein digestion. Protein will help prevent catabolism and promote anabolism during sleep, when the all-important growth hormone is released.
Drink a protein shake, eat 3–4 egg whites (pasteurized or cooked) or have a cup of cottage cheese just before bed and then once again in the middle of the night when you get up to go to the bathroom. If you can’t convince yourself to eat, at the very least you should consume a handful of amino acids or branched-chain amino acids. All you need is about 75–125 calories in each meal, and don’t forget to include them in your daily counts.
Start eating in the middle of the night and you’ll grow around the clock.