Nutrition 101: How to eat, what to eat, when to eat. The best method for weight loss, muscle growth and optimum health.

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Are you confused about what to eat?

Do you get frustrated with all of the jargon that is thrown around in the health and fitness industry?

Words like macros, protein, carbs, fats, HDL, LDL, ketones, paleo, vegan, no sugar and gluten free don’t really mean much to you except that you can’t eat certain things, and that’s frustrating.

It’s frustrating to me. I loathe wading through all of the non-value added BS that is constantly being shoved down the publics throat.

Nutrition is really simple once you understand it.

I aim to teach you exactly what that means in the most basic, fundamental way possible.

It took me a long time to learn, and I tried all sorts of things.

  • No sugar
  • Vegan
  • Paleo
  • Gluten Free

I did them all for at least 2-3 months so that I could fully appreciate them.

The craze right now seems to be macros and ketones.

Macros is not just another filthy 6 letter word, like asspan or buttfac… Dang.

It really stands for Macronutrients, which are the building blocks of nutrition.

In this article I want to teach you:

  • What macronutrients are
  • How to read a nutrition label
  • Other questions you might have

 Intro to “Macros”

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There are Four types of Macros, or Macronutrients:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • ***Alcohol

By Definition:

mac·ro·nu·tri·ent: a type of food (e.g., fat, protein, carbohydrate) required in large amounts in the human diet.


Protein

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How does this work?

Well, you just inject it through an IV…I jest

Protein is an important part of every cell in your body. Hair and fingernails are made from mostly protein. However, our body does not store protein like it does carbs and fats, there is no reserve so we have to ingest it.

That doesn’t mean that we should all just be raging carnivores, it just means you need to fit it into your diet.

It is a building block of muscle, bone, cartilage, blood and skin. A common misconception though is that drinking a protein shake without exercising will build muscle, unfortunately that is not true.

Protein takes more energy to digest, thus requiring your body to burn extra calories, that’s why higher protein diets like Paleo, or the Zone Diet are a great option for weight loss.

Exercise + Protein = Muscle Growth.

Where can I get protein?

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Protein Shakes
  • Dairy/Cottage Cheese
  • Vegetables

You can get protein from other sources, but they are not high in actual protein content. For example beans and nuts are a good source of “other” protein.

How much protein should I have in my diet?

It depends on how much you want to have, what you are trying to achieve, how much you weigh etc.…

It depends on your weight body fat%, and your goals. (Bodybuilder, runner, etc...). Most people will go with what Arnold Schwarzenegger says and have 1g per pound of body-weight. For a 200 pound man that would be 200g of protein a day.

However, if you are a 185 lb man who has 15% body fat, your lean body mass is 185-(185*15%). That equals roughly 157 lbs. So, if you take .5g of protein for every pound of lean body mass, you would need (157*.5) = 78.5 g of protein.


FAT

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What is fat?

Fat is an essential part of part of your diet. It provides energy, absorbs vitamins and nutrients, maintains your core body temperature, and more.

Where do I get it?

  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Oils
  • Peanut Butter
  • Other sources

How much do I need?

That depends on the same factors as what we talked about above. A good range is about 30% of your daily calories.


CARBOHYDRATES

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What are Carbs?

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system, energy for working muscles, and help brain function.

Where do I get them?

Fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, potatoes, cereal, oatmeal. You know, just about everything that you probably eat.

How much do I need?

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Once again, it depends, but a good starting point is about 35-40% of your daily intake.

You can actually live without eating carbs, I wouldn't want to try it. I already know, I would turn into the HULK.


What about Alcohol?

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Technically, Alcohol is a macronutrient.

Why?

Because it contains 7 calories per gram.

Yay!! Drunkenness!!

What does it do for you?

Besides making you invincible, pass-out and wake-up naked in a bathtub. It can help you make friends with coworkers during happy hour faster than Bruce Lee's one inch punch.

It can also make you depressed, crazy, and mean. It depends on who you are and how much you consume.

Where do I get it?

From hole in the wall bars, crappy parties, your parents liquor cabinet or you can make it yourself.

How much do I need?

Really, you can have as much as you want. Whatever it takes to drown your sorrows, swoon the girl at the end of the bar, or to sing Shania Twain's "Man I feel Like a Woman" during country karaoke night.

On a serious note though. Personally, I avoid alcohol. It can be consumed on special occasions but it really doesn't do much for you other than give you calories and moments of reckless abandon.


Putting it all together and reading food labels:

Now, that we have covered how we get all calories through macronutrients.

Remember:

  • One gram of protein yields 4 calories.
  • One gram of carbohydrate yields 4 calories.
  • One gram of fat yields 9 calories.
  • One gram of alcohol yields 7 calories

So how do I know how to use this information?

Let's take a look see at a nutrition label and put it all together.

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  • Protein = 3g
  • Carbohydrates = 37g
  • Fat = 8g

So now we multiply to get our total calorie count:

  • Protein---3g * 4 = 12 Calories
  • Carbohydrates ---37g * 4 = 148 Calories
  • Fat ---8g * 9 = 72 Calories
  • Total Calories = 232 Calories

Pretty Darn Close. We already know that most companies don't know how to do math, and since they are regulated by the FDA, we know to expect far less from them.

Also, you know that % Daily Value Column. It really means nothing.

I think it is just for someone to be able to keep their job and feel relevant. When the government starts having input, bad stuff happens. 


What's Next?

If you think of your meals as blocks like Dr. Barry Sears does in his book “Enter the Zone”.

Macro-nutrients in a "block" look like this:

  • Protein 7g = 1 block
  • Fat 1.5 g = 1 block (There is an assumption that 1.5g of fat are in 1 Block of Protein so, all together you are getting 3g of Fat.)
  • Carb 9 g = 1 block

This makes one Block. Meaning, a basic "one Block" meal requires something from each of these groups equal to 7g, 1.5g, and 9g.

An example 1 Block Meal (which would be considered a snack) is:

  • 1 oz. Chicken Breast (Protein) – 7g
  • 3 Almonds (Fat) – 1.5g
  • ½ cup cooked carrots (Carb) – 9g

If you wanted to make it a 5 Block Meal, which would be considered an entree. You would just multiply by 5. Now it would look more like:

  • 5 oz. Chicken breast (Protein) – 35g
  • 15 Almonds (Fat) – 7.5 g
  • 2 ½ cups cooked carrots (Carb) – 45g

Pretty Simple Right.

So how do you know if you should have a 1 Block, 3 Block or 5 Block Meal?

In Issue 21 of the CrossFit Journal, there is a system for everyone to use that shows you how to chunk your meals into blocks, how much of a food equals a certain amount, etc.…



Let's say you are a medium male:

Your meal breakdown would be:

  • Breakfast - 5 Block Meal
  • Lunch - 5 Block Meal
  • Snack - 1 Block Meal
  • Dinner - 5 Block Meal
  • Snack - 1 Block Meal

How do I know How much of everything is?

Pretty much every type of food you can think of is on this list, and it doesn't matter what your diet is.



What does a 5 Block Meal Look Like?


This Looks like a lot of work

It does, but it's not. After about one week of measuring and monitoring your intake, you will be like a Master of Spinjitzu in the Kitchen.

Also, you will start to enjoy making meals and making yourself better.

If this is too much work for you though, then get someone to help you or hold you accountable, because the alternative is not doing this, and you know what that gets you.


What about Sugar?

Oh man, this question.

Sugar is highly addictive, I would recommend avoiding it like the plague. It gives me massive headaches and turns me into a beast.

However, I understand that some people just can't live without it, and for you I would say. If you can control yourself then only have a little of it. If you can't control it, and you usually know if you can, then don't touch a lick of it.

For you, moderation doesn't work, because you have no self control.

Don't chug a mountain dew because you know how to read a label, it's still sugar, it's still addictive, and it is going to affect your body.

Sugar in fruits is good for you, so eat those.

 

Closing Notes

This is the best explanation of how to make meals that I have ever come across, and I really didn't understand all of this stuff until I read CrossFit Journal 21.

If you eat like this you will see results. It's inevitable.

It takes the guesswork out of how you should eat. This is the way to go whether you are cutting weight, gaining weight, paleo, vegan, zero sugar, gluten free etc.

Now you know how to count your calories.

 

- Stephen