Nutritional needs and where to focus!!

Everyone has seen the traditional food pyramid showing what types of foods and general quantities of foods in relation to each other that we should be consuming on a daily basis. The traditional pyramid does very little to help people understand how to incorporate healthy eating into their daily lives. In following another pyramid, we can see the order of importance by which will provide the biggest impact on our health and longevity.

  1. Calories – This is the base of the pyramid for good reason. We want to have enough calories to support our energy needs but not so much that we retain excess body fat.
    1. How do we find out the number of calories we need?  This is the first step when working with someone that is trying to change their body composition, whether they are trying to gain muscle or lose body fat, the starting process is the same.
      1. Log all food consumed for 2 weeks.
      2. Figure out the daily average for calories consumed each day.
      3. If trying to lose body fat, reduce caloric intake by 500 calories per day.
      4. If trying to gain muscle mass, increase caloric intake by 500 calories per day. (also ensure proper protein intake)
      5. Remeasure 2 times per week, take average weight each week and make corrections of caloric intake based off the average.
  2. Food Composition – This matter less if we do not have the base figured out yet. Once we have an idea of the daily calories we need, we can then be more selective of the kinds of foods we consume. The majority of our food intake should be from fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
    1. This does not have to be an all or nothing approach. 
    2. A diet that is 75-80% of “healthy foods” and 20-25% of other foods one enjoys is fine.  So long as we maintain our caloric needs in mind.
  3. Macros – This is less important than total calorie intake and food composition. But once the first 2 are understood and in our control, we can focus on varying protein, carbohydrates, and fats intakes. Focusing here before total calorie intake and expenditure is less effective.
    1. Macro break down can help tweak a persons nutrition needs based on certain goals.
      1. A person that is looking to increase muscle may focus protein first, carbs second and then fats.
      2. A person that is looking to lose BF% may focus protein needs, fat levels at a certain percent, then fill in the remainder with carbohydrate calories.
      3. This works well for very specific body composition goals so long as the first 2 parts of the pyramid are adhered to.
  4. Meal Timing – This has shown to be of minimal importance in comparison to the first 3 in regards to living healthy and well.
    1. This can have a very marginal impact on those wishing to focus muscle gain. 
    2. Eating 4-6 meals per day with the appropriate amount of protein in each meal will make sure that a body has the required amino acids to build muscle throughout the day.
  5. Hydration – This is area in which we really do not have to focus, our bodies have evolved pretty well to tell us when we are thirsty the majority of the time.
    1. This is an area that needs little focus except for some extreme situations.
  6. Supplements – Focusing here is a waste of time and money for most. If eating a balanced diet, there is little need for supplementation. That being said, if other aspects of the food pyramid are mastered, or we are pushing the boundaries of human performance, getting with a nutritionist or doctor to have blood analyzed to find deficiencies would be the way to go here vice guessing.
    1. If eating a balanced diet and following the above to the best of one’s ability, there should be little need of supplementation.
    2. If someone feels that they need to supplement, visit a doctor or dietician.  Have blood work analyzed to look for deficiencies and make changes to diet or supplementation choices based off those results.

After working with many people who want to lose a little extra body fat, focusing on the pyramid in the stated order has produced the most benefits for people.

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