CategoryNutrition


Macros / IIFYM


I get a lot of emails from people who want to know more about macros and whether or not tracking them is pivotal for body transformation. The simple answer to this is NO, not initially, but eventually, it is something you will benefit from hugely, yes.

I want to talk you through macros step by step so you can understand what they are, why they are important and whether or not you need to be tracking them yet:

  • WHAT ARE MACRONUTRIENTS? 

Macronutrients  are the nutrients our bodies need in order to function and stay healthy. Technically there are 2 – complete proteins and essential fatty acids – but carbohydrates are so important and so full of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, fibre etc) that we count them too.

So there are 3 macros: complete proteins (not things like veg and nuts which are incomplete proteins our bodies already make in spades, think more dead animals, sorry), essential fatty acids (omegas) and carbohydrates (fruit, veg and starches).

  • DO I NEED TO TRACK MACROS IN ORDER TO CHANGE MY BODY?

First and foremost, clean up your diet. If you cut out refined sugars (chocolate, pastries, sweets, sodas etc) and trans fats (processed foods, junk food, takeaways etc) your body is going to be able to use your food intake as FUEL instead of storing it as FAT. Not to mention how much healthier you are going to be, look and feel.

After you’ve gotten used to a clean and healthy diet, and it does take some getting used to, you need to get your calorie count right. Any kind of aesthetic transformation comes down to energy input (calories from food) VS energy output (movement and exercise). IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

Everybody has  basal metabolic rate, this is the amount of calories your body needs to survive and function in day to day life. If you train, you obviously need to add to this count if you want to maintain your aesthetic physique. If you want to lose, you obviously need to make sure you are hitting your BMR number but that you are not in a calorie surplus so training has the desired effect. If you want to gain, you need to make sure you hit your BMR number and are in a calorie surplus so your muscles are fed and up to the task of growing. TO FIND OUT YOUR BMR NUMBER USE THE HARRIS BENEDICT EQUATION.

Once your calorie count is where you need to be, you can start thinking about your macronutrients: so do you have a BALANCED diet of fats, proteins and carbs? And do you know when and why to eat the above?

  • My Fitness Pal, HOW, AND WHY PEOPLE TRACK THEIR MACROS:

Mr Smith wants to gain some muscle, so he gets his BMR sorted and adds enough calories to fuel his training and ensure muscle growth. He will then download My Fitness Pal (as there really is no better way to track macros) and split his calorie count into the 3 macro %s. For example 40% protein, 50% carbohydrates, 10% fats.

There are ways of determining EXACTLY how many grams of each macro your body needs daily, according to each 1lb of your bodyweight. To be honest I have never had to do this, but if your goal is to compete, I suggest you do.

At the end of the day how you split your %s is completely up to you and dependent on your goals, but it will take some time and trial and error to figure out what works best for your body. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.

You MUST ALWAYS have a % of all 3, so please don’t think you’re being clever by cutting out fats or carbs, that really is NOT the point and you’ve got it all wrong if you thing that’s what tracking macros is all about.

Remember that complete protein aids the repair of torn muscle tissue, so it’s a good idea to fuel up on it pre and post training.

Remember that starchy carbs convert to glycogen in the muscle, fuelling it, so again it is a good idea to have them pre and post training.

Remember that fats regulate our hormones and aid the break down of adipose (fatty) tissue, but they are high in calories, so have eggs, avocado or nuts in moderation, somewhere in your daily diet.

Be patient. My Fitness Pal is a schlog initially but it does become second nature eventually. I promise.


The One Ingredient Rule


For those of you who are new to eating clean, losing weight with a HEALTHY diet and confused about proteins, fats and carbs, here are some simple rules to follow…

You can never go wrong with protein and veg – Protein should be the staple of every meal you eat. Obviously the leaner proteins like chicken and fish are best, but red meat is also great in moderation. I tend to have red meat once or twice a week. Veg is full of micronutrients which will keep you good and healthy, and also aid your body’s use and digestion of food. Veg are also full of fibre, which is responsible for that full feeling, and will keep you regular. A hearty meal of protein and veg is ideal for health and any kind of weight loss or fat loss goal.

Starchy carbs can be consumed daily, even when loss is the goal, just pick the right ones at the right times – The best kinds of carbs are clean carbs that are full of fibre, such as oats, sweet potato and brown rice. Starchy carbs are great for breakfast, and in pre and post workout meals when your body will utilise them most. If you’re hanging out on the sofa all day, you don’t really need starches, instead, have plenty of veg as your main carb source that day.

Fats are essential for both health and weight or fat loss goals – Most of us in the health and fitness business are completely perplexed by the influx of low fat products and the trend to buy them. Fat is essential in our diets for heart health, brain health, and even the breakdown of adipose (fatty) tissue. Again, like with protein and carbs, it’s important to know what fats to eat and when. Things like eggs, avocado, nuts and oils are your best bet. Fats are very high in calories, which does NOT mean you shouldn’t go near them, it just means go near them in moderation. So have eggs for breakfast, have a handful of nuts as a snack, have half an avocado in your salad.

THE ONE INGREDIENT RULE – Having read the above you will see that everything I have mentioned – chicken, fish, oats, sweet potato, eggs, nuts etc – all of these foods are 1 singular ingredient. If you look at the back of a chocolate bar or packet of crisps, you will see a long list of ingredients that you probably won’t be able to pronounce. If you abide by the 1 ingredient rule, your diet should be 100% clean, healthy and safe 100% of the time.


Carbs and Tricks


If loss is your goal then yes, you do need to be mindful of starchy carbohydrates…

Firstly, starchy carbs should be 100% CLEAN and all natural foods. Cut out the processed white breads, pastas, rice, wraps, pastries etc.

You want oats, sweet potato, brown rice and things like wholegrain rice cakes to be your go to starches.

Secondly, yes, you need to keep an eye on how often and when you are eating them, but you absolutely do NOT need to cut them out, ESPECIALLY if you are training.

If you are following the 12 week plan, which I know a lot of you are, then you will know that I time your starchy carb intake for you. They are included as a breakfast option for energy release throughout the day and training, and are also required in your post workout meals to feed glycogen stores in the muscle and aid growth while you are in anabolic (muscle building) mode.

Here’s a really good place to start when it comes to carbs:

  • BREAKFAST – This is a really good time to get some oats in, or bash up a couple of wholegrain rice cakes with some unsweetened almond milk and make a SUPER healthy, lean breakfast cereal. You can sweeten both with protein powder or cinnamon, agave syrup is also a good option.
  • POST WORKOUT – You NEED clean starches post workout to feed your muscle while it’s in anabolic mode. You need to replenish the glycogen stores so you don’t fatigue in the following days. Do not be scared to eat starches post workout.
  • REST DAYS – If loss is your goal, rest days are the days you can stick to lean protein and veg based meals. You don’t need starches when you’re chillin. If you’re muscle building, this does NOT apply to you. Clean starches and proteins should be a daily occurrence.
  • TRICKS – If you’re like me and your world revolves around carbs, YOU NEED TO LOOK INTO COURGETTI AND CAULIFLOWER RICE! I grate a courgette or 2 every day and fake a pasta dish, the same goes for cauliflower rice. These veg are also FULL of fibre and are very filling, so no it’s not like eating lettuce and pretending you’re full, you genuinely will be.

 

I’m receiving a lot of emails from people on the plan who are losing lbs like crazy and I want to say I am SO proud of you all. It takes HARD ASS WORK to stay committed to daily diet and training when life is hectic enough as it is.

KEEP GOING, what is a struggle now will soon become routine!


Goals and Balance


So, a lot of you ask how I stick to my diet and don’t cave on the weekends or at social events…

First of all, let me express that I only stick to my diet 100%, 24/7, when I want aesthetic results. The rest of the time, my ‘normal’ time, I find a healthy balance.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, aesthetic results and health and fitness are 2 very different things.

If I have some fat to shed, a shoot coming up, a holiday on the horizon, whatever reason it is that needs aesthetic results, I give my diet 100%, 24/7,  for weeks, sometimes months on end, without any cheats whatsoever. I don’t make room for excuses or give myself breaking points. It is what it is and I get on with it.

Last week I was doing an interview and the journalist asked me if the weeks / months of restriction strains my relationship with food, and I replied that yes, it absolutely does.

I told her that I remember when I would wake up, eat a slice of toast, go to work, eat a sandwich, come home, eat a bowl of pasta, have a glass of wine and a chocolate bar and go to bed. Was that physically healthy? Absolutely not.

But is it mentally healthy when I have to track every single thing I eat? Absolutely not.

Is it mentally or physically healthy that on a ‘cheat day’ after long periods of restriction I will eat pizza, pasta, ice cream, cake and chocolate all in one day? Absolutely not.

It really IS all about finding a balance. I LOVE it when I don’t have to get lean. I still train every day because I love training, and I eat healthy every day because it makes me feel really good, but every few days I’ll go for dinner with friends or family and order whatever I want. Every few days I’ll walk past a cafe and get a coffee and a slice of cake. It’s a very healthy and very balanced life.

If you want aesthetic results, stop breaking your diet and GET the aesthetic results. NO CHEATS. NO EXCUSES. End of story.

If you’re trying to lose a bit of weight, get fit and healthy or gain some muscle, you can absolutely do all of the above by training regularly, eating healthy and having a treat every few days.


Diets


Diets…

Atkins, Weight Watchers, meal replacement shakes, juicing, low fat, Paleo, calorie counting, IIFYM…the list is endless.

The sad fact is, most of these diets are unhealthy and or do not work…

Atkins – Carbohydrates are an energy food for both our brains and bodies. If you cut out all carbs all the time, you are going to feel mentally and physically miserable, exhausted and unwell. If you train, carbohydrates are ESSENTIAL as they convert to glucose in the body, which converts to glycogen in the muscle. Glycogen is your primary energy source when you train. The moral of the story? If you are carb sensitive, look into carb cycling, NOT Atkins.

Weight Watchers – I apologise if I’m going to offend anyone now, but the emails I get from those who follow these diets are the kind that make me want to tear my hair out. Look, these point systems are essentially calorie counting systems that allow room for daily crisps and chocolate…do I really need to say more? That’s why you are plateauing. Obviously.

Meal Replacement Shakes – I SOMETIMES drink protein shakes for muscle repair, training and convenience reasons. I would NEVER replace an actual meal with them. Why? Because it’s unhealthy and unnecessary. Yes you will lose weight if you replace a 400 calorie meal with 100 calories of straight up protein, but you are also stepping into malnutrition and metabolic mess territory, and once you go down that path, losing weight is going to get A LOT harder – permanently.

Juicing – Juicing can be good to detox for a day or 2 if you’ve had a heavy weekend or holiday, but let’s be honest, consuming nothing but juiced fruit and veg for days or even weeks on end is not healthy. Similar to the meal replacement shake problem, you are going to start stepping into malnutrition and metabolic issues, which is NOT a fun problem to fix.

Low Fat – OK, I’m going to tackle this quickly because there’s really only one way to put this…FAT is a macronutrient which means it is ESSENTIAL for our physical health. PERIOD. When you see low fat foods, that does NOT mean you are going to lose fat, it means sugar has been added, and guess what? Added sugar leads to weight gain. STAY AWAY FROM LOW FAT.

Paleo – OK, so now we’re stepping into healthier territory. Paleo is a slightly stricter version of eating clean, and eating clean is going to get you healthy. If you are new to eating clean, you are absolutely going to lose weight by doing it. After a while, you can start to look at macros and calories for aesthetic results.

Calorie Counting – If you calorie count HEALTHY foods then yes, you are going to get healthy and absolutely will lose weight. HOWEVER, as I’ve said above, calorie counting and adding in junk food will only work for so long, before you plateau and even regain. Another calorie DON’T is dropping your count too low. When you do this your metabolism will start to slow down drastically and once that happens, there is no going back. If you are already on a low calorie count and have stopped seeing results, up your training.

IIFYM – I count macros, but to repeat this point, I do NOT allow for daily doughnuts and pizza. It works for some people yes, but these people have a very HIGH muscle mass, have been training everyday for YEARS and if I’m going to be perfectly honest, they tend to be on a naughty supplement or 2…

 

EAT CLEAN, HEALTHY FOODS THAT SPAN ACROSS THE MICRO AND MACRO NUTRIENTS YOUR BODY NEEDS:

  • PROTEIN 
  • FATS
  • CARBS
  • FIBRE
  • VITAMINS
  • MINERALS 
  • WATER

AFTER YOU HAVE CONSISTENT CLEAN EATING DOWN, LOOK INTO:

  • MACROS
  • CALORIES
  • CARB CYCLING