The health industry has rocketed over the last decade, with more people taking up sports from cycling and running to tai chi and hiking. There is an abundance of information available online, and sometimes it can be tiring to sift through this to find which diet plan and training regime suits your body type and goals best.
We at DrFelix.co.uk believe the best approach is to equip yourself with the right knowledge so you can use it to create your own personalised fitness plan. To achieve this goal, we will simplify nutrition in this article so you can use it as a foundation building block to take your fitness to the next level.
Ultimately, even if you take away nothing from this article, the key point to remember is no matter what kind of body you have or training regimen you follow, eating proper nutrition at the right time is critical and will make or break your results.
Nutrition is broken down into three high-level categories:
You might have heard the term macro-nutrients; this is the ratio of the three types of nutrients, all of which are sources of calories for the body. All three play a different role in the body and interact with each other to allow our bodies to function properly. The right amount and the correct timing is the key to a successful diet plan or a training plan.
Protein originates from the Greek word "protos" which loosely translates to "of prime importance". Protein is used by the human body to build, repair and maintain muscle. It is the primary compound in the body after fluid. Protein is made of up "building blocks" known as amino acids, there are 20 different types, and 9 of these are essential which the body is unable to make so must be obtained through diet. If there is not an adequate amount of protein in the body, it will start burning up muscle tissue to meet the protein needs.
Positive nitrogen balance is a technical term often thrown around; this essentially means your body has enough protein build muscle. This is an important concept for those who are interested in body-building. . Your body can either be in an anabolic state (positive nitrogen balance) which mean the body is building muscle. Alternatively, it can be a catabolic state (negative nitrogen balance) and burning up muscle tissue.
Carbohydrates are probably the most commonly known nutrients and carry a bad reputation due to a common misunderstanding. Carbs are not the big evil and responsible for your weight gain; they are actually the preferred source of energy for your body. Since we are sticking to simplifying nutrition, we will break down carbs into two types; simple carbs and complex carbs. A simple takeaway from this section is that no matter what source of calories you intake, if you intake more than what you need or burn, they will be stored as fat. So carbs are good, but only what you need, simple carbs are good for quick energy release, and complex carbs are the opposite which is what you should aim for most of the time.
Energy is measured using the unit calorie. A device called a calorimeter is used to measure the calorie content of foods to produce food labels. The reason Britain is facing the problem of obesity today is that we are not active enough to use up the energy we are taking in hence leading to fat stores and ultimately, obesity.
Carbohydrates are transformed into glucose in the body which is used as fuel for muscle contractions and glycogen, amongst other things. If there is not sufficient carbohydrate in the muscles, it leads to you feeling lethargic. This is, in most cases, the primary reason for those days you are sat on the sofa with a severe lack of determination to train.
As well, as a body-builder, you should have a far better understanding of carbohydrates than the average person. As was mentioned before, carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source. Once ingested, they are turned into glucose, which, among other things, fuels muscular contractions and glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver for future use. As long as you are taking in adequate carbs for your daily usage, you should not have issues with feeling lethargic or gaining fat.
Fats, also known as lipids, are the most calorie-dense out of the three types of nutrients. Fats are further divided into three categories:
Saturated fats are generally found in dairy and animal products like milk, cheese, beef, lamb and pork products. The liver converts saturated fats into cholesterol which produces hormones like testosterone. Therefore you need some amount of saturated fats in your diet to maintain standard body functionality.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in products like corn, sunflower oil, these can lower cholesterol overall. Still, cholesterol is split into good and bad, so intake of poly fats should be partially limited.
Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil or peanut and canola oils. These fats can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) without affecting HDL (good cholesterol). Most foods will contain a combination of all three fatty acids, but one will normally be the dominant one.
These are the unhealthiest and should be avoided. Trans fats occur through a hydrogenation process which turns poly fat oils into solid foods like margarine.
Sources of Fats
Fats to Avoid
Fats to Limit
At Dr Felix, we believe in maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating clean and exercising regularly. This can vary based on your goals, but a combination of weight exercises and cardiovascular produces the optimal results for muscle gain and fat loss. Our staff have tried and tested the information in this article with excellent results; one staff member managed to lose 9kg in a 3-month transformation to fight back problems, so we know a little bit about fitness. We recommend keeping a journal and tracking your diet and training plan for better results. This guide is an overview of nutrition and is meant to be treated as a building block to aid you in your journey to a fitter and healthier life.