Anything can be made complicated, no matter how simple it may initially seem. It’s easy to get lost in minutia and ultimately miss the point of what you set out to achieve.
This is a common mistake in the fitness community. 53 or 54g of carbs post-workout?!?! Decisions, decisions.
I think anyone serious about training or diet has fallen victim to this before, it’s commonly the result of seeking to optimise your efforts and its only human nature to try and improve something to speed up the process, even if it already works.
However, consider this:
Do you look/perform like you want to right now?
If not, do you think its because you’re not aware of some new training or diet concept? Or simply because you need to persevere with the basics for longer?
I’ll give you a tip, it’s probably the latter.
It’s normal to think that as soon as you become aware of a new way to train/eat then you will suddenly reach your goals and until then you’d better damn well trawl every dark and dingy corner of the internet until someone agrees to let you in on the mystical secret.
The simple fact is that, aside from a few variations, everyone who looks how you want to look or moves how you want to move sticks to a few principles and sticks to them for a long time, years, decades.
So, if you want to try intermittent fasting, carb backloading, german volume training, ADF, paleo, westside (the list goes on) then go for it, but without certain foundations you’ll scupper your gains and ultimately reach inaccurate conclusions on the efficacy of these methods.
So, what are these basics:
1.Eat sufficient protein: past 2g per pound of bodyweight there seems to be no real benefit, 1g/pound would be a good choice, it allows for sufficient intake of other nutrients.
Propane’s supercharged version: Only count the protein from whole sources, not incidental grams. So chicken breast would contain protein, oats and rice wouldn’t. Do the same for the other macros.
2.Establish your energy needs and calculate your intake accordingly: Use a good calorie calculator that factors activity (http://www.1percentedge.com/ifcalc/), if you seek weight gain, eat more than your required amount, if you seek fat loss, eat under it. Also cover mineral, vitamin and micro-nutrient requirements by eating a portion of veg with each meal, and a piece of fruit or two when you introduce carbs in your day, a multivitamin will help prevent deficiencies.
Propane’s supercharged version: Don’t be a slave to counting calories, decide on a diet that respects your overall requirement and adjust food quantities based on results. Not gaining weight? Add an extra few handfuls of rice to your post-workout meal and an extra scoop of whey during the day. Don’t get lost in calories and numbers, use real amounts and change quantities based on the outcome.
3.Ensure sufficient essential fatty acid intake: Easy to over-complicate but in general, get a fish oil supplement, supplement with GLA and cook with coconut oil.
Propane’s supercharged version: Have 1 tbsp of coconut oil in your morning coffee, 2-3g of EPA/DHA from a liquid fish oil and take a GLA supplement. Additionally, don’t shy away from animal fats in meat or egg yolks but try to avoid fat that is solid at room temperature (trimmings on beef or fat on bacon). Limit trans-fats in most fried and heavily processed foods.
4.Skip breakfast, eat most of your food in the afternoon and evening (ideally after training), eat until your calorie goal is met and favour nutrient dense foods but include foods that you enjoy.
Propane’s supercharged version: Choose foods based on how you respond, if you get bloated after a certain food, try dropping it for a few days. Experiment with removing gluten and dairy. Don’t limit yourself with dogma, if you want a cookie, eat a cookie but if it makes you feel sluggish and bloated maybe limit the days you eat them to once per week.
5.Drink enough water: between 0.5 to 1 multiplied by bodyweight in pounds give the range of suggested ounces of water per day. So a 200lb trainee would need to drink between 3-6 litres per day. See the lower bound as your baseline and drink to satisfaction beyond that.
Propane’s supercharged version: Add squeezed lemon or lime to your water in the morning. During the early hours of the day the body attempts to clear the toxins. Lemon contains a phytochemical, d-limonene, that acts as a liver tonic and assists in digestion and detoxification, helping the liver produce more bile. Equally, the citric acid in both fruits will help the gallbladder clear toxins.
6.Get enough sleep: despite recent research suggesting that monophasic sleep is unnatural, we still need to be getting between 7-9 hours of quality sleep to ensure that we can recover correctly, much less than this and you’ll start to accumulate fatigue if it isn’t rectified.
Propane’s supercharged version: Make the room pitch black, turn off electronics, listen to white noise and make the room cool and breezy. Your room should be your cave.
7. Follow a solid training program and don’t neglect pre-hab and soft tissue work: It goes without saying that a training plan is the backbone of any fitness or health pursuit. Don’t design your own, follow something written by a respected coach or hire someone to manage your training for you. Foam roll sore spots 2-3 times per week and get a good stretching and flexibility routine.
Propane’s supercharged version: Pick up a copy of Ming Chew’s book, the permanent pain cure (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Permanent-Pain-Cure-Ming-Chew/dp/007149863X) and follow his recommendations. A great companion to a hard training regime.
So, that’s the basics, now how to implement them. Well, some of you will have them covered already, some all and some of you will never heard of a macro-nutrient. The important thing is not to introduce everything at once.
Enter “single tasking”
It’s simple, pick one of the above. Do everything you need to do to allow you to stick to it (buy what you need, research what you don’t know) then do that ONE thing for 5 days. If you slip up on day 3, start again at day 1. Keep going until you can honestly say that you stuck with it for 5 days. After that, maintain the initial habit and add a new one for 5 days. Continue until you have all the above mastered. By this point, you’ll have a solid foundation with which to build on and will have made decent progress in the mean time.