This article is about what everyone in the gym should have a stranglehold on; their nutrition. We can’t stress enough how important this is in order to get everything you want out of the gym. We believe this is the missing element that most athletes and strength enthusiasts get completely wrong alot of the time.
Alright, so why is nutrition so hard for most people to figure out? We feel a big part is the rampant influx of information out there. The internet is a great tool for information, but it can also be a horrible way to over saturate yourself with ideas. It is incredibly hard to sift through all the info that is out there. Luckily we have people like strength and nutrition coaches who make it their job to be your bullshit meter.
Every nutrition plan ever written, whether its high carb, low carb, backload, macros, paleo, weight watchers, flexible, zone, blah blah blah all utilizes the same principle: If I eat more than I move (calorie surplus) I will gain weight; If I eat less than I move (calorie deficit) I will lose weight. It is the basic laws of thermodynamics at work. None of you reading this exists outside those laws. There are finer points to consider that we will cover in the next installment but this is the main rule by which all of us will gain and lose.
The trouble is figuring out these values when you want to marry up your activities to your goals. Two solutions include hiring a coach to figure these values out for you or doing it yourself by diligently logging your food and adjusting your plan as you go. Once you have made a decision to put size on you must formulate a plan that involves eating more food than your activity levels allow. Once you have your plan you must be willing to alter it if its not yielding the results you wish. Most importantly, you must stick to your plan! Cooking and cleaning enough for 5-6 good meals a day 7 days a week is difficult. Eating these meals all the time is just as difficult and can make you feel like the office weirdo but just remember if you want to look and perform differently than the people you hang around with don’t train and eat like them!
So, how do you know if you are eating enough? If I had a dollar for every kid that has come through our door and told me he/she eats sooooooo much but can’t put on strength and size we would have 3 gyms. Oftentimes it can be shocking to find out how much food it actually takes to put size on. Here is where your food logging will make all the difference. Write down everything you stuff in your face for a week. If at the end of the week you haven’t gained any weight then guess what big boy, it wasn’t enough! If your body doesn’t want to change, you need to convince it otherwise by taking in more calories. It can be an uncomfortable process much like hunger is for someone dieting but is often necessary to take yourself to the next level. Some strength athletes try and increase their calories by consuming nutritionally-void, high-calorie, junk food. You can consume these types of foods and they will indeed be an easy source of extra calories, but when taken too far or if they become the only source of extra calories, serious health problems can occur. We do not advise that you blindly add calories. Seek advice if you are unsure about food choices or stay tuned for part 2 where we cover some of this.
Nutrition can be painfully individual (depending on activity levels, genetics etc) and can involve a heck of alot of trial and error. This is where a coach can become invaluable but if you follow the advice above and you have the right mindset, diligence and treat your meals like your training sessions you will smash your goals much faster than if you don’t.
In Part 2 of this series we will delve into what an actual meal plan might look like for someone training for increasing size and strength.
Stay Tuned and Stay Strong!