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Nutrition Simplified!

It’s no wonder you’re confused about what nutritional changes are best for you. There is an abundance of diet information available around us; perhaps some guy at the gym recommends intermittent fasting, your friend swears by detox teas, meanwhile the internet is buzzing about the keto diet. But the good news is, it’s relatively simple! In order to change your body composition (increase muscle mass or decrease body fat), there are only a few basic principles that have the biggest impact.

*The following principles are over-simplified for the purpose of this article and should not be taken as medical advice. Ensure to visit your health care professional for your own specific dietary needs. *

  • Calories: No matter what the goal is, calories must be counted for in some way- sometimes indirectly. If an individual is on a weight loss plan, they must be in a calorie deficit; burn more calories than you eat. While those looking for muscle gain require a calorie surplus; eat more calories than you burn. If the balance isn’t considered, then you won’t be able to attain your goals regardless of which diet trend you are considering.

  • Macronutrients: The three essential nutrients which we consume in the shape of food are called macronutrients. These are protein, fats and carbohydrates. Your goals, lifestyle, physiology, and genetics all dictate the quantities needed from each macronutrient category. Most weight loss diets provide a high ratio of protein and fat with only moderate carbohydrates. This encourages the body to burn fat as fuel while mitigating any muscle losses. By contrast, an endurance athlete who is competing will have a larger percentage of their food coming from carbohydrates. The higher carb ratio allows the athlete to perform at full capacity. This example demonstrates how nutrition is not only important for aesthetics but is equally essential for performance.

  • Timing: There are specific time windows where the body is more sensitive to certain foods which will allow it to metabolize or be broken down more efficiently. For example, for those who are aiming to decreasing body fat, it is recommended to consume most of the daily carbohydrate intake up to 3-5 hours post workout. The chemical process that occurs from exercise ignites a response on the body. This allows us to store carbohydrates as glycogen in the muscles rather than being turned into fat.

  • Composition: The type and quality of macronutrients consumed refers to the composition. We should be striving for variety and/or specificity for our proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Different proteins such as eggs, poultry, and meat, have different amino acid breakdowns and having a variety of these will attain a wider amino acid profile. Their composition and micronutrients can benefit the body in complex ways. Meanwhile, some carbohydrates are more easily absorbed than others; an intra-workout sugar drink (e.g.- Gatorade) will differ in digestibility compared to potatoes, or pasta. We must also have a variety of carbohydrate sources to broaden our micronutrient intake, including colourful vegetables. When it comes to fats, monounsaturated fats are preferable. Sources such as olive oil, avocado oil, nut butters and seeds not only promote better health than other fat sources, but they also support leaner physiques.

  • Supplements: Lastly, there are supplements that are very useful and have many benefits, such as vitamin d, fish oils, multi vitamins, protein powder, creatine monohydrate and more. Even though some are recommended this should not be the priority of your diet and individuals needs will vary.

Above all, when it comes to body composition changes, your focus should be placed on consistency with your lifestyle. Develop healthy routines including exercise, drinking plenty of water, consuming good quality foods, getting adequate sleep and managing stress.

I hope this article has cleared some confusion for you! If you would like more information on how you can apply these principles to yourself, we encourage you to send us a message through our website or social media pages.

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