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Retraction and clarification.

In a previous post I recommended several therapies for Crohn’s and as I research more I must retract / re-examine some of this.

I no longer believe DMSO to be safe for human use. It’s been shown to cause apoptosis (cell death) of retinal cells in mice. You can take this at your own discretion but I will no longer advocate its use due to this finding.

DHEA may not be safe to use without being overseen by a doctor specializing in hormone therapies. Due to the complex nature of hormones in our bodies, it’s possible for DHEA supplementation to destabilize our natural hormones resulting in hair loss and opposite-gender traits (facial hair in women, gynocomastia or male breast tissue).

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Think Volume for Size

Sometimes people in the gym get so caught up in trying to put more weight on the bar they forget about one of the longest known strategies to pack on the hypertrophy, and that’s high volume training.

The problem with heavy weights is your muscles will reach absolute failure before they can receive the same amount of stimulation they could from a lower weight, high volume routine.

While these heavy weights are ideal for training the central nervous system to adapt to heavier loads and activate  more muscle fibers in a single repetition, it may not be as good for the completeness of stimulation that leads to muscular growth and hypertrophy.

Let’s say you’re an average, healthy, gym-going male and your 5 rep barbell curl max is about 80 lb.s, that’s with minimal back sway, strict form.

You can probably do 3 sets of your 5 rep max before your arms are pretty well done lifting that weight for the day.

But if you lowered your weight to about 65, you could lift it maybe 12 times.

What I want you to do is find the weight you could lift exactly 12 times and instead I want you to do 5 reps with it, then rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 5 times.

So for our theoretical lifter here:

65 lb.s x5

30 second rest

x5

30 second rest

x5

30 second rest

x 5

Now they’re just lifted 65 lb.s 25 times over the course of a few minutes which is a cumulative 1625 lb.s of load.

Whereas if they lifted their 5rm of 80 lb.s 15 times in the same time span you’d be looking at 1200 lb.s of total load.

Already you can see where a lower weight can start to add up.

Now once you’re finished with your FINAL set of five, I want you to immediately grab a bar that’s 10 lb.s lighter, or if you’re using dumbbells, 5 lb.s lighter on each side. Do 5 more reps. Drop the weight another 5 lbs and repeat.

If you absolutely have to take a break, do so, but continue this until you can’t even lift the 5 lb dumbbells then call your biceps done for the day.

Micronutrients, the importance of testing for deficiencies.

Our dietary makeup breaks down from our caloric total to the macro nutrients that made it, which is fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Within these we find the micro nutrients, or more commonly known as vitamins and minerals. The quality of food you buy will effect the quality and quantity of your micro nutrient content. Depending on your dietary variety, geographic location, and various environmental and lifestyle choices, it’s likely many of us will have deficiencies in one or more micro nutrient, and it’s important to get a clinical diagnosis before trying to address these issues.

Minerals, especially, can be dangerous in excessive doses as well as in depleted quantities. They also exist in antagonistic relations with one another. For example, Zinc and Copper compete, and taking one may decrease the amount of the other.

This is why it’s important to know if you’re deficient in one or both before taking either supplement. Taking zinc with a copper deficiency could deplete your copper to dangerous levels.

Some micro nutrients come in a variety of sources, and some are safer to take in high doses than others. Vitamin A sourced from plant-bases like beta-carotenoids are safer than those from preformed meat-based sources. It’s very difficult to take too much from a plant-based source.

Likewise the reaction your body has, and the bio availability of sources differs. The oxide form of many minerals found in cheap drug store multivitamins will not be as easy to absorb as citrate or other forms acidic forms. This is why the calcium found in milk may not be as useful as calcium citrate in a supplement form.

Contact your doctor for blood and urine testing if you believe you are deficient in one or more micro nutrients.

Gut bacteria linked to IBD, Crohn’s & Obesity.

I’d first off like to link to this blog which was part of an important trigger in sending me down this path of research, because until I found it I was very much in the dark about the human gut microbiome and I believed it was just too poorly understood to warrant further internet research.

It is from this blog I get much of my info, or was directed onward to sources that have it. It is some heavy reading, so I decided to condense some of the important take-aways for the more casual reader.

The human digestion is populated by a large variety of gut bacteria, these bacteria fall into families that sub-categorize them. Among these families two of the largest and most important are the bacteroidetes and the firmicutes. These two exist in what is almost a direct competition of one another. They feed on similar food resources, however create two different environments in the gut, and thus have different effects on the body itself.

Firmicutes, including the clostridia strains, aids in many functions of the gut including production of protective butyric acid and is involved in prevention of food allergies. It’s also important in the absorption of calories into the body, and thus its overgrowth is linked to obesity.

Increasing levels of bacteroidetes may be able to prevent or reverse obesity, but it should also be considered that it’s implicated in the symptoms of irritable bowel diseases like Crohn’s and Colitis. Patients with Crohn’s and Colitis have been found to have disproportionately high levels of bacteroidetes to firmicutes.

This could be for one of several reasons. The role of antibiotics is heavily implicated in IBD, and it’s been shown that after a course of antibiotics bacteroidetes is often the prominent survival after a major die-off of the diversity of gut bacteria. Many Crohn’s and Colitis patients also reduce their fiber intake as a means of controlling symptoms. What do these two things have in common?

Bacteroidetes can consume the mucosa of its host in order to avoid starvation, making it extremely resilient and hard to kill. When patients take anti-biotics or go on low-carb diets to try to starve off invasive bacteria, there’s a good chance they’re losing other beneficial bacteria like the Firmicutes as well, but they could be causing further harm by an overgrowth of the bacteroidetes.

I want to redact what I said here. There may be a misunderstanding I had, or conflicting information that requires more reading. Bacteroidetes consumes the intestinals mucins of the host, not mucosa. It then produces acids like butyric acid that are condusive to growth and healing of the mucosa. While promoting overgrowth of Bacteroidetes in a fast is not ideal to Crohn’s, the biproducts it creates are helpful. 

The question remains, how do we feed Firmicutes without further increasing our levels of Bacteroidetes? Hopefully I can find an answer – but it’s hard in a world where current literature only cares about increasing Bacteroidetes to cure obesity.

The answer to increasing Bacteroidetes is pretty clear – increase the intake of a diverse array of fermentable plant fibers and resistant starches. Most western diets are very low in this, the only resistant starch most people ever consume is wheat. Include raw, green bananas, plantains, raw or cooked then cooled potatoes in your diet to increase resistant starch intake.

Why you’re probably wasting time working out.

The sad fact is the media has corrupted a lot of the public’s knowledge about how to actually ‘get fit quick.’

Magazines and special programs sold by personal trainers and at-home exercise DVDs are gimmicks designed to make everything look more difficult in order to convince you that there is a secret method to getting in shape, it’s complicated, and only by doing exactly what they say can you achieve it.

Here’s the truth:

  • The best results come from simplicity
  • If you’re spending an absurd amount of time ‘toning’ a single part of your body, either you’re a bodybuilder and you may know what you’re doing, or you’ve been conned into thinking that you need to do this to look better.

You see it floating around your facebook and twitter feeds, the “30 minute squat program” or whatever they call it now. It promises to firm up your legs, develop your butt and shed weight and all you have to do is these 6-10 different leg exercises. Here’s the kicker, if you actually grabbed a barbell and loaded weight on it, you could hit all the same muscles, burn more calories, and be done in about 15 minutes or less and go on to do the rest of your workout.

But I don’t want to lift weights, I’m not looking to get big, just to tone up!

More hogwash misconceptions. Firming or toning up is a result of gaining muscle and losing fat. You’re doing the same thing with your 30 minute squat program, except it takes longer and you see less results. Without eating a massive amount of food and in many cases taking performance enhancing drugs you will never reach a state that you consider to be ‘too big’ or ‘too bulky.’ You will however ‘tone up’ much, much faster with progressive resistance training – that is gradually increasing the amount of weight you can move.

But lifting weights isn’t functional! 

Functional is another bullshit catch word used to make crossfit style training seem special, it’s a gimmick, it’s slander on a form of strength and conditioning training that’s been around for ages and is proven to work. There’s a reason many Olympic cyclists and sprinters squat – because it WORKS. If it wasn’t functional, why would they do it? Any time you’re looking to directly target muscle growth or fat loss, breaking your movements down into the most basic, anatomically efficient movement will simply make your results faster. If you want to worry about function, take a kickboxing class and weight lift on the side.

What I’m trying to tell you is resistance training will give you what your looking for FASTER

And for many people, more comfortably! In order to see progress off cardio one has to maintain a high level of intensity over a long duration of time. To see the same results from, say, squatting? A challenging weight for 10 reps, rest, repeat for 3 sets and go home.

IT’S THAT EASY.

And weightlifters have known this for decades. Many do full body workouts, 3 times a week, an hour or less per session and see great results. Squat, bench, row, and optionally deadlift. No need for side planks, lunges, goblet squats, front squats, kickbacks and all the other nonsense you see in the magazines, you’re just taking longer to isolate individual muscles. By throwing weight on the bar, you FORCE your body to use all those same muscles anyway.

For clarity’s sake the difference between a bodybuilder and a cardio bunny toning:

A body builder has a clear set of goals and they know exactly which body part they’re targeting, and they’re working it HARD with resistance training. Often times this is combined with PEDs as well as heavy strength training and high calorie diet. They’re driven by results that are quite different from those of the casual gym goer who wants to look better for the beach. They’re taking a longer path because they need to in order to target specific body parts and make them look better. Unless you plan on competing on stage there’s no need for this level of time commitment to look good for the beach, and it’s LESS effective on fat burning.

Could Crohn’s and other Auto-Immune deficiencies be caused by neurotransmitter problems?

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, all medical information, recommendations, and supplemental advice should be taken as academic interest value alone, and you should consult with a physician before attempting any therapies or treatments you find online. Serious complications, drug interactions and side effects can occur even by using ‘natural’ off-the-shelf solutions. 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150615094258.htm

In recent news, researchers have discovered a link between the brain and the lymphatic system. This is a huge missing link that could connect the brain to many auto-immune issues.

The link between Crohn’s and neurotransmitters was not shaky to begin with, and this may help cement the foundations of a new theory that explains it.

A single case study has been done on a patient that failed to respond to other treatments and was ‘cured’ of his Crohn’s by balancing of his serotonin and dopamine levels.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108661/

There are many contributing factors to gut inflammation but we know that catecholamines and serotonin may play an important role in them. The link between hormone levels and disease activity is not to be discounted. We’ve seen the disease triggered by stress, the hormonal changes caused by pregnancy and it often displays itself around or shortly after puberty and has been linked to an acne medication called Acutane that acts on hormonal changes.

I posted recently on the benefits of intermittent fasting as a therapy for Crohn’s, and this further reinforces / explains both the therapy and the theory. Though alternate explanations of the benefits of fasting include gut rest and starvation of invasive gut bacteria, neither would really be true in an intermittent fast where the gut is heavily taxed during the non-fasted period, and gut bacteria would be given ample food to regenerate during this time.

This leaves us with the hormonal response to starvation, a wave of catecholamine production which includes neurotransmitters such as Dopamine.

Proper hormone function relies on a balance of Serotonin to Dopamine, too much of either is bad. It’s likely that in the case of Crohn’s patients they are high on the Serotonin level. Starvation leads to increased dopamine levels, forcing a rebalancing of the two.

Starvation, in and of itself, of course comes with dangers such as malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance etc. The length of time and level of caloric restriction that’s considered safe for a fast is highly debatable, however this new therapy offers a possible treatment for the imbalance that’s directly targeted, and available off the shelf of your local vitamin and health shop.

Table 1

Individual dosing value: milligrams of L-tyrosine/milligrams of 5-hydroxytryptophan*

Level AM Noon 4 PM 7 PM
Level 1 1500/150 1500/150
Level 2 1500/150 1500/150 1000/300
Level 3 1500/150 1500/150 1000/300 1000/300

Note:

*The patient also received the following daily dosing values: 1000 mg of vitamin C, 220 mg of calcium citrate, 75 mg of vitamin B6, 400 μg of folate, 4500 mg L-cysteine, and 400 μg of selenium.
It should be noted that there’s still a very real risk of toxicity in this treatment, and I must remind the reader that I am not a medical professional, and all treatments should be done under observation of a medical professional. The levels of b6 and selenium are near the upper threshold of safe-to-consume doses, and serotonin toxicity can be fatal!

That said, if you are truly interested in trying this therapy, talk to your doctor, tell them you want to try it and you’d like them to monitor your blood for healthy levels of the supplements you’re taking and your neurotransmitter levels. Maybe it can work for you too!

The supplements in the Notes section are important to the efficacy of this treatment. These co-factors ensure the proper use of the primary therapy. Though it may be expensive to buy them all separate, I found my own Men’s Multi Vitamin made by Solgar contains close to the levels of all the ingredients:

http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/p/solgar-male-multiple-120-tablets/sl-2384?mr:trackingCode=D870F7BE-0156-E411-AF04-BC305BF82162&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=pla_with_promotion&id=SL-2384&sourceType=sc&source=FG&adGroup=40-60&keyword=SL-2384&cm_mmc=Google+Shopping-_-Product+Listing+Ads-_-40-60-_-SL-2384&cvosrc=cse.google.SL-2384&cvo_cid=61367160685online&gclid=COOBid6Hl8YCFYVcfgodr0oAFw&kwid=productads-plaid69686209429-skuSL@ADL42384@ADL4VITAMINSHOPPE-adTypePLA-devicec-adid61367160685#.VYGUaflVhBc

Vitamin B-6(As Pyridoxine Hcl) 75 Mg 3750%
Folic Acid 800 Mcg 200%
Calcium(As Calcium Carbonate, Glycinate, Citrate) 400 Mg 40%
Selenium(AS L-SELENOMETHIONE) 200 Mcg 286%
Vitamin C(As L-Ascorbic Acid) 400 Mg 667%

You may need to take additional selenium and Vit C or find another vitamin with different proportions, but a well balanced multi may be cheaper than buying each supplement separately (I priced it out at about $60 minimum to get all of them vs. $30 for the multi, but it may work out to be cheaper over the long run to purchase them separate, also more accurate as you can take exact doses of each.)

I am not payed or endorsed by the Vitamin Shoppe or Solgar products in any way, simply posting this as an observation.

Maybe we could soon have an answer to Auto Immune diseases.

Scared to Squat?

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted lifting advice, so I’m coming back with the leg day goodness.

A lot of people are scared of squatting. They’ve convinced themselves they have bad backs or knees and will make them worse by squatting. Unless at some point in your life you actually had a traumatic injury to your back or knees, chances are your back and knee pain are the result of bad posture and improper muscle balances and core, back and leg exercises like squatting and deadlifts could help, more than hurt.

Mistake #1: You’re scared to go too deep.

Proper depth in a squat or the bottom of a deadlift isn’t just about showing off your flexibility. It’s about properly setting up your bio mechanics to lift a heavy weight out of a low position – and in the case of a squat it’s about properly decelerating that weight and loading it onto your joints and muscles in a healthy position. Form is key to safety!

For the squat you should not stop until your butt is under your knees. Failure to do so places sheering forces on your knees as your muscles pull against each other at odd angles to stabilize your hips and knees around a large mass bearing down on them at a strange angle. When you drop fully into the bottom position, the muscles load in a spring-like action that will help you pop back out of the squat. If you can’t do this properly, you’re putting too much weight on the bar!

For the deadlift, many don’t drop their butt low enough at the start of the lift. They break at the hips, lean forward and drag the weight up like a Romanian deadlift or Stiff-Leg deadlift, then wonder why they have no ass! (Guilty as charged, myself.)

Get that ass down low and lift through the legs before you even start pulling with your back to ensure your’re loading your legs right and protecting your back from doing all the work.

Mistake #2: You don’t engage your core properly, you’re leaning forward or you’re hyper-extending. 

The first mistake is the gym rat that has never been given a form diagnostic in their life, they bend forward and arch their lower back out like they’re trying to make their pecs touch their crotch at the bottom of the squat or the start of the deadlift and lift by flexing their rhomboids and curling their back into hyper extension. This is a recipe for a back injury.

The second type is the gym rat that’s been told to arch their back the other direction when lifting heavy, so they hyper-extend like they’re trying to get into a bridge position without engaging their other core muscles. Their ass sticks way out, their belly sticks way out, their abs are complete jelly, their  rhomboids are in full contraction and their back is killing them the next day. From this position your entire chain breaks. Your quads shorten, your hamstrings extend, your glutes deactivate, and your knees will hurt.

Unfortunately some people don’t fully comprehend the Rippetoe explanation of the arched low back and how to properly use intra-abdominal pressure. It’s not all about the back, it’s about a neutral balance of force between the back and abs braced around the pressure created by expanding your lungs with a deep breath. The lordotic curve you see in demonstrations is only half the battle, and if you go too far, it’s just as bad for your back as arching the other way.  In simple terms, too much S curve is just as bad as a C curve.

The goal is to find the neutral sweet-spot, your back should be more or less straight which will produce a slightly pronounced S curve. Your hips should sit in a neutral position so your pelvis neither dips forward nor backward – the waistband of your pants should not dive significantly lower in front than in back.

Experiment with  bracing your back first, then tightening the abs and leaning forward slightly into a neutral position. Then do the opposite, brace your abs first then slowly tighten up your back. Find out what works best for you, I’ve heard that only one way is correct, but I’m a believer that both achieve the same final resting position and neither is special.

What can I do to feel safer about my squatting before I get under the bar?

1. Planks – For both problems – PROPER planks. Learn to suck in your abs and keep your butt from sticking out during a plank. If your abs don’t start to burn you’re not doing it right!

2. Supermans – For those with C curve – This will help you to learn the feeling of the contracted rhomboids

3. Sit-ups – For those with S curve – Strengthen your core, curl into the situp rather than pivoting at the hip.

4. Ab wheel – For both problems – same deal as planks

5. Stretch your quads! – for those with S curve – Tight quads pull your pelvis down, extending your abs, deactivating them, shortening your back muscles and causing knee pain.

6. Strengthen your glutes! – Both – Glute-ham raises, leg lifts, kickbacks, glute-bridges with your feet as far away form your butt as you can get and your legs spread wide. If you suffer from extreme  S-curve you’ll struggle to activate glutes without highly specific glute-targeting exercises. Leaning to bend into the C-curve can help you to activate them until you can adjust to proper, balanced posture.

Do I Need a Protein Shake?

If there’s any one product that’s most commonly associated with fitness and muscle building, it’s the protein shake. These products have become the cornerstone of the supplement industry, claiming to have special formulas designed to increase the anabolic properties of the shake and help you gain muscle.

So what’s the truth? Do you really need a protein shake to maximize your gains? Will it really be useful to you?

Short answer: Protein shakes are a good option, but they will not make or break your development or goals.

The first thing you need to know, before determining if a protein shake is a good investment, is how much protein you need to be consuming on a daily basis, and whether or not this is conveniently achievable to you through regular, whole foods.

This article can give you some details on the story, but the number is about 0.82 grams of protein per 1 lb. of body fat. Some will claim it’s much higher, but this article refutes that citing more recent studies with better variable control. Companies trying to sell you on the necessity of protein may still be citing the older studies to throw people into a panic in their pursuit of a very high protein intake.

Ideally, your diet would be made up of whole, healthy foods, bought peace meal from the local grocery store or farmer’s market and cooked at home. As anyone that works at least 1 job and has any semblance of a social life on top of their fitness goals knows, time doesn’t always allow for this.

A protein shake is a great way to hit your macros while on the move. All it requires is water or milk, a mixer cup and a scoop or two of protein and you could hit 20-50% of your daily protein requirements without taking time to cook up some chicken.

So which protein shake is right?

The problem is that not all protein shakes are created equally, and the number on the label is not necessarily what’s in the shake. Protein companies have been known to spike their powders with additives that appear in tests to be higher protein content, without actually delivering the bang for your buck.

Protein content is traditionally measured by the nitrogen content of the powder. By adding amino acids and creatine to the mix the protein can falsely test for higher concentrations of protein than you’re actually consuming. Look for taurine and glycine in the amino acid profile as an indicator of this.

Protein shakes are a great example of ‘you get what you pay for.’ If you get the Walmart special, you might as well go buy chocolate milk mix in the snack food isle, because you’re not buying much more than a bag of sugary drink mix. You may have to fork an extra $10-15 to get the good stuff, but if you’re concerned with what you’re putting in your body, you might as well make your money go the distance.

Cheap protein shakes often also come bloated with lots of carbohydrates (sugar), and if you’re looking to control your weight while gaining muscle, you want to consume protein in the most lean form you can.

This website is a great resource, testing and listing the top protein shakes for the best contents.

Six Pack Abs, how-to.

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A lot of people are looking for the secret to building a six-pack. Your goal requires a two-part strategy. Your first goal should be to shed the fat and adipose tissue covering them. Most individuals will need to be below 10% body fat to see their abs.

There’s not a lot of ways to accurately calculate your bodyfat at home without a set of calipers, but you can look up pictographic guides or use a calculator that can help you get a rough estimate. There’s only one good way to reveal them, and that’s to diet and do cardio to shed the weight. Crunches are for building abs, not for unsheathing them from the fat!

( Some Electronic scales have a bodyfat measuring function. This is NOT an accurate way to measure body fat as it relies entirely on electric conductivity which can be influenced by many external factors)

That said, there’s still a number of people out there that either need to build their core strength for stability, or, like me, were skinny but lacked enough mass to have abdominal definition.

I tried endless crunch routines. I used to be able to do 200+ crunches, now I can barely do 70. Bicycles, sit-ups, all the unweighted routines you can find that take 20 minutes to complete. None of them did anything for me except help me to do more of them, my abs remained 2 slabs of undefined meat on the left and right side.

I began incorporating resistance into my workout, and the time spent on working my abs went down, while my results went up.

Here are some of the exercises that worked for me:

First I would hold a dumbbell straight above my chest while doing sit-ups. As you reach the peak of the sit-up, bring the weight back so it remains over / above your center of balance. If you keep it forward, the weight will instead assist your movement and won’t benefit you. If you move it backwards it will become more difficult, but as your weight gets heavier you might risk shoulder strain.

Your concern may be that if you can barely do 10-12 sit-ups, how can you hope to start adding weight? You’ll find that you adapt quickly to adding weight, in my case the development of my ability to do lots of sit-ups, or to do heavier weights were exclusive. Training one way did little to improve the other. I went from using 12 lb.s additional weight to over 40 lb.s in a fairly short time span, a person uninhibited by health conditions like myself should have no problem quickly adding weight to their abdominal work.

My other favorite is reverse crunches using an anchor. A reverse crunch is where your upper torso remains on the ground while you lift and lower your legs using your abdominal muscles. By holding onto a heavy object, like a 45lb. plate or something anchored to the ground behind your head, you can slowly lower your legs straighter and straighter to increase the difficult of this movement. If you’re an advanced lifter and even with your legs fully stretched out you are still insufficiently challenged you can use ankle weights or a dumbbell between your feet to increase the difficulty. This can be difficult when you start, as the weight of your legs is, for most, greater than their upper body. Pointing your legs up toward the ceiling and bending at the knee can make these easier to perform.

Perform these just like you would any other exercise, 8-12 reps for 3 sets, and you’ll be done in less than 5 minutes, rather than spending 20 minutes doing various sit-up variations in 100+ repetitions.

I do not personally do them, but captain’s chair leg raises are also a crowd favorite, but for many, myself included, the hip flexors become involved and your abs don’t get properly stimulated, this is personal preference.

The ab-wheels also come highly recommended. These, too, I personally don’t use, however I will recommend it for others. I just don’t feel it’s a comfortable movement, and it relies on isometrically holding the muscles rather than a full contraction.

Dietary Basics

In teaching myself more advanced knowledge on nutrition I’ve been greatly disappointed by how misguided the general population is regarding all things dietary. Even our health classes in school miss the mark.

While the food pyramid has its place, it does little to help you understand how to control your body’s weight using diet. A well rounded diet is important for supplying your body with the right macro and micro nutrients, but knowing how to apply the food pyramid to calories and macro nutrients is an often overlooked part of the process, but a crucial one!

To best explain it, your body composition is mostly governed by your overall calorie intake. This comes down to thermodynamics, energy consumed versus the energy you expend on a daily basis. Calories translate to the amount of energy available in the food you consume. It’s, of course, more complicated than that, but this is a beginners guide, so I’m going to over-simplify a bit.

The calories you consume are divided into three macro nutrient sources: Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fats. Portioning your diet between these three is important. If you follow the food pyramid it will more or less be taken care of for you, but it’s better to know what you’re putting in your body. The exact proportions you consume will vary based on your personal goals, daily activity level, and other factors, but in general the bulk of your calories should be consumed in the form of Carbohydrates (Carbs), then protein being the second most plentiful, followed closely by fat. A healthy individual NEEDS some amount of fat in their diet to maintain normal hormone balances in their body.

Here’s a breakdown of a 2000 calorie diet based on a 55/25/20 split of carbs/protein/fat. There are differnt percents one can split their marcos, and it will depend on their fitness and body-composition goals, but most will see a similar distribution of carbs > protein > fat.

Macros

Within the food you consume are also the micro nutrients. These are the vitamins and minerals you hear about. When people talk about ’empty calories’ these are calories you consume that contain very little of the micro nutrients proportional to the amount of calories consumed. Since a person trying to lose weight only has a limited number of calories in which to get their Daily Recommended Value (DRV) of micro nutrients, this becomes much more important to them. Because modern food is often so heavily processed or filled with sugar and fat calories, we lose out on a lot of these essential micro nutrients, which is why multi-vitamins come so highly recommended. I will discuss multi vitamin supplementation further in a future post.

So how do you know if you’re getting the proper macro nutrient distribution, the right vitamins and minerals, and how many calories you’re taking in? Well the most exact way is to buy a food scale, prepare all your food at home, and measure it.

Since this isn’t realistic to everyone’s free time, there are short cuts. This Website is a great tool in helping you track your daily intake of food, and the benefits and negatives of the food. You’ll have to do some work to find everything you need, but if you eat the same foods regularly, you can favorite them and have them as a resource.

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, it’s time to start tracking your caloric intake and macro nutrients. Even guesstimating is better than blindly eating with no idea how much you’re putting in your diet. Most fast food restaurants have dietary info available online, and boxed food always tells you the portion sizes and nutrition info on it. Don’t forget any creamers you add to your coffee, fruit juices you’re drinking, etc. I’ll do an article further discussing high-calorie foods we overlook later.