Everyone wants to know, “What’s the right way to eat?” There is really no good answer for that. Sorry!! What and how you eat are dependent on your history, genetics, and (like we’ll talk about in this article) your goal.
I’ll state a disclaimer here – this is not a “how to lost 30 lbs in 30 days” in an unhealthy way. So if that’s what you’re looking for, look elsewhere. But, if you’re looking for a sustainable yet effective approach to nutrition then keep reading ;).
FIRST you have to choose your goal. I know that sounds basic, but most people do it wrong. It has to be specific and not conflicting. As a trainer, I hear so many people say they want to get stronger, have better endurance, and lose fat. Those are actually conflicting goals. While you can work on all of them at once it will be a long and most likely frustrating process. Believe me, I’ve been there.
When I first started lifting, I had been on a “get smaller and skinnier” kick for a few years. I got into running, ran a half marathon, started doing spin classes and eating 1,100 calories every day. Obviously not a healthy place to be. Once I started lifting, I fell in love with feeling strong, but it took a while for my goals to catch up and for me to forgo that “skinny” mindset. Eventually, I learned more about nutrition, periodization and worked on focusing on one goal at a time. If you establish a routine of strength/performance for a cycle, fat loss for another cycle, and health for another, you will make better progress than if you try to do them all at once!
You might be thinking…how long does a cycle last? At the least 12 weeks, maybe a few more depending on your experience in fitness and diet history.
Okay, so back to the goals. You pick one – health/fitness, strength/performance, or fat loss/body composition. Have you chosen one?
If you’re not sure which one to pick, here are some things to think about…
1 – Are you new to strength training and/or exercising? I suggest starting with strength/performance. You may want to lose fat as well, but it’ll be much easier and safer to prevent injury by focusing on strength/performance first.
2 – Do you have a history of yo-yo dieting, significant caloric restriction, or over-exercising? Focus on strength/performance if you eventually want to make significant body composition changes, or focus on health/fitness if you want to get your hormones and blood work looking good.
3 – If you’re a seasoned lifter (1+ years under your belt) and you haven’t done a fat loss phase yet or in a while, then go for it!
Now, how to customize….
FIRST – you must already know your daily caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown. From here, here’s how you adjust based on your goals.
If your goal is health/fitness, which is essentially maintenance of current weight and body composition, then your breakdown of macronutrients should be about even.
If your goal is strength/performance, it’s time to put body composition on the back burner for a bit and eat to fuel your body. Here’s where you’ll be adding calories; start with 150 extra calories/day. Typically these will be carbohydrates, assuming your protein is already in a good place, at the least 1g/lb of bodyweight. If you’re not putting on as much muscle as you like or seeing performance gains, you can continue to add more calories after a month or so.
If your goal is fat loss/body composition, it’s time to get in to a slight caloric deficit. Start by taking away 150 calories/day, typically from a mix of fat and carbohydrate. As you progress through this cycle, you can continue to adjust down until you reach the desired goal.
Once you’ve completed a cycle (12 weeks or more) to one of these phases, you can cycle into another. Maybe you feel pretty beat up after your fat loss phase? Head into a health/fitness phase for some rest & recovery. After that, you can hit a strength/performance cycle after your body has recuperated.
As we’ve learned in business and life, multitasking doesn’t work. The same concept goes for health, fitness, and body composition. Focus is the name of the game.
Build out your workout plan with our goals-based programs – https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
Don’t go it alone! Get our coaching & guidance through this process in our online custom coaching group https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/challenges/the-strength-society.
Amelia (& Alberto) @ Level Up Strength Society
For more information on our workout programs, coaching or to schedule a free Clarity Call with us, visit https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/.