In part one of the nutrition tips I discussed getting the right amount of food and getting the correct macronutrient breakdown. These are two extremely important nutrition factors if you are trying to change your body. The calorie you intake will determine whether you will be gaining or losing weight with your program. The amount of proteins carbohydrates and fats that you get will determine where that weight is coming from. In this part I will discuss the timing of you meals. While not as important as the total calories and the macronutrient breakdown, the timing of your meals also play an important role in your nutrition.
In elementary school we were taught to eat 3 meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was the norm for a most at that age but many newcomers I talk to only eat once or twice a day. People get busy with work and somewhere along the way they start skipping breakfast and their nutrition takes a back seat to their busy schedule. For someone trying to lose fat or gain muscle, skipping breakfast or other meals can have a detrimental effect on their results.
How many meals?
The most common recommendation I give to my most of my clients is to eat six meals a day. By this I mean breakfast, lunch, dinner and a few healthy snacks in between. The rationale behind this is that your body will start to speed up it’s metabolism because it knows it will get more calorie soon so it will burn the calories more quickly. My clients who eat at least six meals and get the right amount of calories and macronutrients get some good results.
With all that said, I also have clients who only eat only 3 meals but still get results as long as they also get their optimal calories and/or macronutrients. So eating infrequently does not seem to stop results as long as the calories and marcos are right.
The commonality with the results of the many-meal-approach and 3-meal-approach is breakfast. Ever since I was a kid I always heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the more I learn the more true it seems. While you are sleeping you are getting no calories. During this time your body is not getting any fuel from food so it Hopefully you ate enough protein before bed and your body didn’t break down your muscle too much. When you wake up you want to stop any muscle breakdown by giving your body fuel. You are literally breaking the fast, which is where the name for this meal comes from. The 30-30 rule is a good goal. This is 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up.
If breakfast if the most important meal, then the meal right after your workout is the second most important. Why? Because this is when your body need the nutrition the most. It needs to start repairing your body from the damage you created during the workout. For most people, the post- workout meal is something as simple as a whey protein shake, for others it’s a real meal. Either way, make sure you get some protein in the body after your workout. There are some schools of thought that say that waiting an hour or more is good for releasing growth hormones but I generally recommend getting some protein within about 30 minutes after you finish your workout.
If you are bulking up you should definitely eat as often as possible but one fat-loss strategy that has gained some popularity in the past few years is intermittent fasting. The results that people have been reporting have been very mixed. Of course some people will claim that you will just get shredded with it. Some people do and some people don’t .
I have not tried this personally but there are some people that see some great results. Like the other tips, all the other factors like your calories and macros are consistent, you can try it and see if it works for you. If you are in ketosis, intermittent fasting should help your body burn more fat. though.
As you can see there are a lot of strategies out there that people have seen results from, 6 meals, 3 meals, fasting between meals, and a whole bunch of others that I didn’t talk about. I think as long as your breakfast and post-workout meals are solid and, of course, are getting the right calories and macros, you should be OK and still see results.
What I did.
At the time of this writing all of my current clients are trying to lose a few pounds. I don’t currently have any clients that are training for size so a lot of the questions I get are related to cutting and the nutrition you need for it. One of the most frequent questions I get is what do I eat. Since I am not cutting currently, I have to think back to what I did when I was getting lean.
This is not necessarily the best plan, but it’s what I did and it worked for me.
Knowing what I know now, there are some things that I would change and others that I would keep the same.I would eliminate some of the foods like oatmeal and get more fats incorporated in my meals since looking back, my fats were pretty low.
I have also done ketogenic (high fat, low carb) diet for a short period and saw good results for the time I was on it, but the diet below is what I used for a longer time and it got me really shredded.
I am not going to include portion sizes because everyone needs a different amount of calories and what I did may be different from what you need. I was pretty consistent with my foods and pretty much ate the same thing every day at around the same time.
Breakfast: Oatmeal, peanut butter and whey protein powder. This was and still is my go to breakfast. The oatmeal is a good slow burning carb, the peanut butter is a good fat and the whey gives me some quick absorbing protein. The peanut butter I prefer is one that list peanuts as the only ingredient. I only cook the oatmeal for a minute in the microwave so it doesn’t overcook and break down the carbohydrate into something that is higher on the glycemic index.
Random Snack: Low carb protein bar. I had a ton of these because the gym I was working at was discontinuing their sales of certain brands. I bought their entire stock of these bars for dirt cheap. Normally I wouldn’t go for low carb bars but they had a decent amount of protein and the carbs were kept to a minimum.
Lunch: Chicken breast, broccoli, sweet potato and either almonds or peanut butter. I would cook a bunch of chicken breast every Sunday and just heat it up for my meals during the week. I made it easy for me and I only cooked once a week. I cut the sweet potato portions lower and lower as it got closer to my goal date. The nuts gave me some good fats. I would also put apple cider vinegar on all of it. Although there is little or no scientific evidence to support it, people have used it for years to help cutting. There are claims that it has a thermogenic effect and it suppresses our appetite. Not sure if any of it was true but the bodybuilders I knew did used it and I got used to the taste so I didn’t mind it. Plus if there was no risk and it could give me a benefit… what the heck. Why not?
Post workout: I would drink a whey protein shake and eat a banana. I still use this as my post workout meal. This combo gives me the quick absorbing protein for after my workout and a carb that will help with the absorption of the protein.
Dinner: Exactly the same as lunch. Yes I east exactly the same thing for lunch and dinner and that was 7 days a week. I did not get bored with it. If I did it now I would cut the sweet potato at night and eat more broccoli.
Random Snack 2: Cottage cheese, sometimes with yogurt. I would go through many big tubs of the stuff. Good slow burning protein from the cottage cheese. If I ate it as a snack during the day I would add some yogurt to it. I did not eat the yogurt by itself since it was too sweet for me and it didn’t have a lot of protein. The cottage cheese was a good boost of protein. There was not a lot if any Greek yogurt in the stores back then. I at night I still use cottage cheese since I would prefer to get more real foods rather than sups.
Oh yeah, and I did a crapload of cardio. I was working out like a beast. I did my workout and cardio 6 days a week. 3 days a week I was also training for speed with my friend who was getting ready for the Olympic trials. I also played and practiced rugby. Practices were 2 days a week for at least 2 hours. Since it was the offseason there we played touch rugby the whole time and I would be drenched afterwards.
So that’s it. Pretty boring. Pretty simple. I did not cheat with my foods, although I do recommend 1 cheat meal a week for my clients (that is a cheat MEAL per week not a cheat day.) I would do 2-4 snacks a day depending on my schedule and if I was hungry. I did drink once in a while, but no beer or wine. I only did straight vodka with ice and lime since the total calorie were less and there were no extra carbs.
I hope this 2-part article was informative for you. If you like this article or have any questions you can leave a comment in the space below or on the facebook group. Thanks for reading.