Beginners Guide to Nutrition

Understanding nutrition is the key to longevity and a healthy life, however, with SO much information out there it can, at times, seem a little daunting.

To quote Robert Urich

“A healthy outside starts with a healthy inside”

In this blog post we aim to give you the stepping stones towards your optimal health.

Calories are king!

As a quick overview understanding calories consists of:

Knowing your current consumption
Knowing your required consumption
Calculating your macros
Observing and tweaking.

So let’s get into a little more detail.

In its simplest form calories in (consumed) and calories out (burnt) dictates your weight, in other words

Eat excess calories = gain weight
Eat a deficit of calories = lose weight
Eat your daily required calories = maintain weight.

As a general rule of thumb, to maintain weight, women should consume roughly 2000 calories and men 2600 calories., but of course we are all different, so, if you are serious about controlling your weight, it is best to find out what your actual requirement is!

How do I know how many calories I burn throughout the day?

To calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE consider the following equation.

TDEE* = BMR + TEF + EEE + NEAT .
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
TEF (Thermic Effect of Eating)
EEE (Exercise Energy Expenditure)
NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)

Luckily, there are plenty of online calorie calculators that do the job for you, just bear in mind, they are still only an approximate.

Calories Calculator 

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Calorie Calculator

How many calories should you consume

Now that you know how many calories are required to gain, lose or maintain your current weight, you will need to track what you consume on a daily/weekly basis.

Simply track every meal / snack by writing in a notepad or spreadsheet.

Once you know your actual daily intake, you can start to make your way to the required amount*

*Please note, you should either increase or decrease your calories in small amounts, plus or minus (5%-10%)

Make sure you track your weight each week, this will give you a good indication of whether you are heading in the right direction.

Apps to check out include:

MyFitnessPal

Sparkpeople

FatSecret

Realistic rates of body fat loss per week

Progress
% Bodyweight
Men
 Women
Extreme
1.15% 2 - 3lb 1.6 - 2lb
Reasonable
0.5% 1 - 2lb 0.8 - 1.6lb
Comfortable
<0.5% <1lb <0.8lb

Realistic rates of muscle gain per month

Progress
% Bodyweight
Men
Women
Extreme
1.15%
2-3lbs 1.6lb - 2lb
Reasonable
0.5 - 1%
1 - 2lb 0.8 - 1.6lb
Comfortable
<0.5%
<1lb <0.8lb

One of our favourites Mike Thurston gives a great explanation of calories in the video below:

What should my Macro split be?

So now you have a better understanding of calories, let's take a quick look at macros, fats, carbs & protein.

First it’s important to understand how many calories in each:

 

  • Protein contains 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
  • Fats contain 9 calories per gram

Please note, some diets will dictate your ‘macro split’ for example, someone on the Ketogenic diet, will need to limit the amount of carbs consumed.

As a general rule of thumb, macros can be split into 20/40/40, that being, 20% fat, 40% carbs and 40% protein.

Watch this brilliant video by John Meadows aka MountainDog and his breakdown of macros, the macro split and adjusting to suit the individuals goals, circumstances and goals!

Overview of diets

So now you have a better understanding of your calories / macro requirements, let's look at some of the most popular diets out there.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is currently one of the world's most popular diet trends. With a good reason! It’s easy to follow and the health benefits are way beyond getting in shape. IF affects your cells and hormones and it’s proven to be effective in improving insulin sensitivity, cellular repair and gene expression.

How does it work? It’s super easy! The basic idea is to set a time frame when you let your body stay in a fasted state and another usually shorter period when you consume food as you normally would. There are several ways you can go about it, probably the most popular one is the 16:8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8 hours “eating window”.

Since this diet doesn’t specify WHAT to eat only WHEN you can eat, it is very easy to follow and incorporate in your routine.

If you prefer to have some guidance, there are several free apps that you can use to track your fasting journey and document how you feel.

Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic is a high fat, low carb and moderate protein diet. The goal is to reach a “ketosis” where your body starts turning fat into fuel instead of carbs. This state is achieved by radically reducing carbohydrates.

The most amazing thing about Keto is that you can still eat the food you love, feel full and lose weight, all at the same time. Getting started is tough since it’s likely a radical departure from how you’re eating now but once you survive the “Keto Flu” you can fully enjoy the health and weight-loss benefits Keto has to offer.

Check out the PROMiXX YouTube channel for further keto diet tips: 


Flexatarian

Flexitarian diet is a flexible vegetarian diet that suggests that you can still reap the benefits of a vegetarian diet while still enjoying meat in moderation.

This diet is a great choice for you if you love eating veggies and fruits and you considered going vegetarian before but you love to chow down on a burger or steak every now and again when the urge hits.

By eating more plants and less meat you will not only lose weight but you can also improve your overall health and decrease your risk of developing cancer and diabetes.

Paleo

The Paleo or caveman diet aims to mirror the eating habits of our ancestors in the Paleolithic era. It typically includes everything that could be obtained by hunting and gathering such as meats, nuts, vegetables or fish. The golden line is to avoid all processed food, sugar and trans fats. Since this diet is typically low in carbs and high in protein it can help you to get in shape and lose weights. Similar to Keto, the Paleo diet is a great way to lose weight while eating incredibly filling food.

Vegan

Increasing number of people decide to go vegan for ethical, environmental or health reasons. The vegan diet entails avoiding all foods of animal origin such as meat, dairy or eggs. When done right it has several health benefits such as weight loss , lower blood sugar level or improved kidney functioning. Nevertheless, going vegan without prior research can be risky as you have to strategically incorporate the supplements and the food that contain the vitamins that you would otherwise get from eating animal based products.

Experts to follow

Over the years we have worked with and followed many influencers. Below is a list of some of our favourites, great for training tips, but also diet and nutrition, be sure to check them out:

YouTube:

MattDoesFitness - Matt trains hard and eats an inordinate amount of calories, famous for his charm, humour, huge calorie challenges and son luke's intros, Matt follows the If It Fit Your Macros diet, be sure to follow him on both instagram and YouTube.

Mike Thurston - Mikes passion for health & fitness comes across in his YouTube videos, with a huge catalogue of training and diet videos, make sure you follow him on YouTube & Instagram for tips,

John Meadows - John is a former IFBB Pro, his years of training and coaching others is a clear passion of his, he discusses in depth nutrition and exercise routines, and has a wealth of videos on YouTube, go check him out.

Instagram



Oliver Anwar - @roanwar as he is known on Instagram is an online fitness & nutrition coach for professionals, his posts range from nutrition advice, workout tips to motivational and amusing, if you’re a busy professional trying to get a handle on your health, check him out!

Daniel Ventura - @danielventuramartin a long time friend of PROMiXX and WBFF and Keto pro! Daniel has years of experience sculpting people as both a 1to1 and online PT, his knowledge of Keto is second to none, so if you are looking for getting into shape on the Keto diet go check him out!

Supplements

Finally let’s dive a little bit into the supplements that are worth taking even with a balanced and healthy diet.

Protein

Protein is essential for our body to build bone and muscle strength and to enhance healing after exercise. For people who exercise regularly, protein is essential to boost recovery and build muscles. If you’re leading a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle protein supplements can offer an easy option for meeting your daily protein intake ( as a general rule people above the age of 19 need 46-56 grams of protein daily)

Whey / Plant protein

Whey protein is animal sourced protein derived from milk. It is high in BCAAs, which help muscle maintenance and growth. Plant protein is derived from plants such as soy, brown rice, pea, pumpkin, hemp or chia. This protein is for you if you’re vegan or dairy free. Both have incredible benefits, try experimenting and see which works best for you.

Creatine

Creatine is one of the most researched supplements in the fitness world. It is a derivative of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Daily supplementation with creatine can help to increase athletic performance, build lean muscles, increase brain functioning and prevent neurological diseases as you age.

Multi-Vit

Even though you can’t outrun a bad diet by taking multivitamins, it’s still important to support your nutrient levels, so they can help your body function. If you have a restrictive diet, taking multivitamins is key for maintaining your energies and making sure you receive all the vitamins your body needs.

EAA (Essential Amino Acid)

You may have heard about the importance of BCAAs for our brain, recovery and gut health but did you know that BCAAs only go so far without EAAs? You need all 8 essential amino acids to repair muscle, not just the three branched-chain amino acids. You may consider adding EAAs to your diet if you exercise regularly, if you’re fasting or vegan or if you have a particularly stressful life.

Bonus Video. 

So now you have a better understanding of calories, macros, diets and some supplements, let's finish with a short video by Ryan Humiston, if you don't follow him, check his YouTube channel out. 

Muscle building diet tips!