Control Your Nutrition Seminar, V1



Thank you to everyone who was able to attend our nutrition seminar Monday night!


For those of you who were unable to make it, the seminar is posted, in full, above. Take a look at it, and please feel free to reach out to me at jamie@hungryheartsgymandkitchen.com if you have any questions.


Here are the finished whiteboards:




#exposponsorme


I wanted to outline in text the three practical approaches I described, just for the sake of clarity and if any of you wanted to follow through with them. I initially intended this to be a quick summary, but as often happens when my brain locks in on something, things got a bit out of hand.


None of this is medical advice, but instead it's a series of frameworks that COULD give you more control over how you interact with food in your life, specifically in reference to body composition and energy levels. Micronutrients/health markers is another conversation entirely.


If you have a history of disordered eating, I highly recommend you speak with a specialist before adopting any of the eating strategies laid out below.



Intuitive Eating


One way to create an approach to nutrition that fits into your lifestyle is to do it largely by 'feel'. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Largely eat what you want. For many people this may be too unstructured- for certain people though, this can be a revelation, and permission to be free from a history of destructive dieting. You can add structure to this style of eating by adopting some 'values', or a loose description of the food QUALITY you want to be consuming. Here are a few guiding principles you could think about:


-Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.


-Know where your food comes from.


-Only buy food from the outside aisles of the grocery store (produce, deli/seafood section, dairy section).


-Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. (a la Greg Glassman)


Here at Hungry Hearts we generally think it's more constructive to focus on what you ARE eating, as opposed to what you're not. If one of those above principles resonate with you, adopt it!


There's no quantification in this style of eating, but by focusing on the quality and types of food you eat, you can largely reduce the impact of overeating. It's hard to eat too much broccoli (unless it's covered in cheese!).


This style of eating is typically useful for people who feel a large amount of anxiety around eating, diets, and weight management, as well as people who feel pretty good with how they're eating- but need just a little more guidance. Also, if you find that it resonates with you to use your eating to reflect some of your social values, i.e: supporting local farmers, only buying sustainably harvested meats, etc., this style of eating can help you connect more deeply with those values and enrich your life (and community) in that way.


One of many excellent local resources. Know your farmer!


In tracking progress with this style of eating, I wouldn't focus so much on numbers on a scale, but instead on how consistent your energy levels are throughout the day, how your clothes fit, taking weekly progress pictures, and how you feel looking at yourself in the mirror. These are the factors that often matter to people the most (along with relevant Dr.'s office health markers), and none of them are directly reflected by a scale.


In general, I'd only really use a scale as a tool if it's a relatively benign influence to you. It's a helpful touchpoint for what's going on in, but it rarely gives you the full picture. A more helpful metric is taking body measurements/finding your bodyfat percentage (another topic for another time). Often in strength training your weight may stay relatively the same while your body shape completely transforms as you burn bodyfat and build muscle. Muscle tissue is much more dense than fat.


Numbers on a scale rarely give you a full picture of what's going on.



Protein Quantification


Ultimately, if you want more fine-tuned control over your nutrition and how what you eat affects your body, it's helpful to quantify what you're eating (count some aspect of it). Quantifying food doesn't have to be forever either, if you do it for some sustained period of time (6-8 weeks) your ability to 'eyeball' amounts of food will vastly improve. If you're relatively number averse, the one thing that I would recommend quantifying above all others is protein.


In the seminar we discussed the idea of everyday eating 1 gram of protein/ # of goal bodyweight. That would be your current bodyweight if you're trying to stay the same size but gain/maintain strength, more than you currently weigh if you want to get bigger, and your bodyfat loss target weight if you're trying to lean out.


You have to be more intentional to get adequate protein on a vegetarian diet, but it's far from impossible.


This is my 'don't scare people off' number. Plenty of sources will recommend eating 1g protein/# bodyweight, regardless of if you're trying to lean out or not. Whether you go for the bigger or smaller number, I highly recommend you do the math to see what amount of protein you eat in a regular day. Plenty of people think they get much more than they actually do (the same goes for drinking water). This amount of protein is vital for protecting and maintaining your muscle mass, especially when you're in a caloric deficit.


A quick side note on the idea of building and preserving muscle mass: Many people are worried about the idea of becoming "too bulky" from eating an adequate amount of protein combined with strength training. Most often, the look and feel of 'bulkiness' doesn't actually come from the muscle mass you have, but the body fat sitting on top of it. If you spent some dedicated time in a caloric deficit (combined with strength training), reached your desired level of leanness, and at that point felt like you were too bulky/muscular- then, and only then, would I recommend altering your approach to strength training.


The classic exchange is- "I don't want to look like Arnold Schwarzennager," "Don't worry, you won't." It's akin to picking up a baseball to play catch and saying, "Not too much though, I really don't want to end up in the MLB." Often times the extreme body changes people want to avoid take such an extreme amount of effort (and possibly a Tijuana pharmacy) to achieve, that there's no chance that they'll happen by accident.


On a base level, maintaining/building muscle mass will improve our performance in daily life and recreational activities, protect us from 'weakness based' injuries (many injuries are caused by or are exacerbated by weak, tight, and imbalanced muscles), allow us to burn more calories daily while at rest (muscle takes a large amount of calories to hold onto), and aid us in maintaining independence and capability as we age- as well as help us look better naked!



15g protein in 2 oz chicken, 30g protein in 4 oz, 60g protein in 8oz


By quantifying protein a few things are happening- one, we're protecting our muscle mass and helping to support strength training/recovery, and two, because we're focusing on getting so much protein in we're NOT taking in the same amount of carbs + fat we would otherwise. In this way, just quantifying your protein can create a strong body recomposition/leaning out effect.


This style of eating is something that I'd recommend most people try at least for a little bit. It's math-light, and tracking protein rarely has the same anxiety-producing effects on people that counting calories can. If nothing else- I'd recommend you spend a day writing down what you typically eat and counting how much protein you're getting- you might find the answer surprising!



Math ahead.


The Whole Shebang


This is not just quantifying the amount of protein you eat in a day, but also quantifying the amount of fat, carbohydrates, total calories, and anything else you wanted to add in (vitamin sources, fiber, etc.).


Outlining this formula:


Starting with daily calorie count- As described in the video, trying to calculate your daily energy expenditure (how many calories you burn a day) is a sketchy business at best. A much more pragmatic approach is to choose a caloric target, stick to it for 2-4 weeks, and if you're not seeing the progress you want, adjust it.


Depending on your goal-


Some numbers for reference- for most people, a rate of weight loss that is sustainable without being extreme (i.e., likely to catabolize a large amount of muscle tissue or highly impact your daily energy) is: your bodyweight x .01, pounds per week. So for me, as someone who weighs 200#, two pounds of weight loss a week could be a good target if I was trying to lean out.


If you were trying to gain weight (and just put on muscle with a minimal amount of body fat gained), a good target could look like 0.25-2lbs/month. This is a much more slippery number. Those born male will typically have an easier time putting on muscle mass than those born female, and younger people will typically have an easier time building muscle than older people. Rate of muscle growth isn't purely based on levels of testosterone, but also on the number of androgen receptors and the body's sensitivity to testosterone/hormone response. 'Training-age'- the amount of time in your life you've spent doing strength training- is also a factor. There's a lot at work here.


You could always try higher or lower numbers than that 10-18 range, but that would put you more at risk of losing considerable muscle mass along with fat, experiencing loss of energy, and dealing with mood swings if you went on the low end, or putting on extra body fat and feeling sluggish on the high end. A purely anecdotal note: in general, the longer a change takes to create, the longer that change sticks around for. While rapid weight loss or weight gain may seem appealing, I would always recommend to think instead in the long term. Remember, we're trying to find nutrition strategies that will last you for life, not just the summer.


Once you have your daily caloric count, first, slot in your protein.


So, if I for example am trying to lean out and want to shoot for 1-2#/week weight loss, I might start with multiplying my bodyweight by 11 to get 2200 Calories/day. I know I do pretty well mood and energy level-wise in a moderate caloric deficit, so I'm going to start there and adjust as necessary. 1 gram of protein is 4 Calories, using those numbers I'm going to figure out how many of my daily Calories go to protein, and what I have left over.



From there, I can take that extra 1440 Calories and divide it up between carbohydrates and fat as I choose. As we were talking about in the video, people can derive energy from both carbs and fat. Similarly, there's no overwhelming evidence that biasing towards one or the other is more effective for body recomposition. The split here largely comes down to personal preference, what do you like eating, and what do you feel gives you more energy? Would you rather have some rice with your chicken or some sliced avocado? As you experiment with this style of eating on yourself, see what you prefer. Fill this with food you love!


For most people I would not recommend a low carb diet because it can lead to energy inconsistencies and a diminished capacity for high intensity movement, and for myself, I know I love carbs. Because of that, I'm going to dedicate 900 of my leftover Calories to carbs, and the rest (540 Calories) to fat.


Carbohydrates contain 4 Calories per gram, and fat contains 9 Calories per gram, so that leaves us with a macronutrient split of 190g protein, 225g carbohydrates, and 60g fat. Ratio-wise that comes to roughly a 35% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 25% fat macro split. Taking those numbers I would build out an eating plan for myself. I would try that, see how I felt on it (looking at body composition changes, consistency of my energy throughout the day, and my performance in and out of the gym), and adjust accordingly.


I would not recommend this approach to everyone- this kind of approach can trigger obsessive tendencies and lead to anxiety if you're not in the right headspace for it. I would recommend this approach to somebody if they're both intrigued and excited about the idea of tweaking numbers to see what works the best for them, and also able to look fairly dispassionately at numbers like Calorie counts, weight on a scale, etc. The minute you start feeling food shame and bring a kitchen scale to a restaurant- try intuitive eating instead. There's no bonus points for perfect, and I would not recommend trying to do this with a perfectionist's perspective. Eat the Christmas cookies. Remember, 'almost' counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and daily nutritional goals over a long term.



Putting it Into Practice


Home stretch.


Taking those three approaches, and what application might look like:


If I wanted to take an intuitive eating approach, I'd start out by writing a description of how I'd like to be eating. Something like-

I'm relatively happy with what I'm eating, but I tend to get a little sluggish in the early afternoon. I'm not eating as many vegetables as I'd like to right now, so I'm going to see if changing that makes a difference. Also, I find myself eating out a lot, but not really enjoying it, it's just become a habit. I'm going to make it a point to have a vegetable on my plate at every meal. It's important to me to both get high quality produce and support some farmers I know in town, so I'm going to try as much as possible to get those vegetables from local farmstands. Similarly, I'm only going to go out to restaurants when I'm really excited about eating there, never out of convenience or boredom. When I do though, I'm going to be sure to get whatever I want!


From there, try it out, see how you like it, and adjust what needs adjusting!


If I wanted to try counting my protein, I might do something like the following:


190g protein/day goal


Wake-up:

RX Bar - 12g pro

Shake - 32g pro


Mid Morning Snack:

1 oz deli turkey + 1 oz deli swiss - 10g pro


Lunch:

White rice, onions, peppers, 6 oz tilapia - 46g pro


Afternoon snack (post workout) :

RX Bar - 12g pro

Shake - 32g pro


Dinner:

Chicken (6oz) enchilada - 46g pro


Total- 190g protein


Not the most exciting menu, and definitely light on vegetables, but this is my 'no time to cook, but no excuses' approach, and pretty close to what I'm eating right now. All items easily grabbed from Hannafords.


A note on lean protein sources- they're all pretty similar. 6 oz of chicken, strip steak, fish, or pork chop all contain ~40-45g protein. The vegetarian protein source, seitan, similarly contains ~44g protein/6 oz.


If we're going all the way down the rabbit hole and busting out our calculator, notepad, and kitchen scale to try out The Whole Shebang:


Daily Goal-

2200 Cal

190g Pro

225g Cho

60g Fat


Wake-up:

1 Scoop Whey Protein

100 Cal, 32g pro


Breakfast:

3 eggs sunny-side up

215 cal, 19g pro, 1g cho, 14g fat

4 oz blueberries

80 cal, 1g pro, 19g cho


Lunch:

8 oz Cauliflower Tikki Masala with Basmati Rice + Chickpeas

764 Cal, 24g pro, 89g cho, 41g fat


Afternoon snack (post workout) :

RX Bar

210 Cal, 12g pro, 23g cho, 9g fat

1 Scoop Whey Protein

100 Cal, 32g pro


Dinner:

8 oz Pulled Chicken Tinga, Arroz y Frijoles, + Squash with Citrus

671 Calories, 46g pro, 54g cho, 31g fat


After Dinner-

3/4 scoop Casein Protein

21g Pro, 70 Cal


Total- 2210 Cal, 187g pro, 186g cho, 91g fat


Hey, I wonder where you could learn how to cook those amazing sounding recipes??




Message kristen@hungryheartsgymandkitchen.com to sign up!


Looking at how all the math turned out on that- we ended up with more fat than we initially intended, and less carbs. Despite my professed love of carbs, I'm not terribly concerned by that. We hit our Calorie and protein goals pretty closely, and that fat/cho split looks totally fine to me. Looking at quality of foods too, there's a lot more variety + produce in there than my 'No Time, No Excuses' all pre-made at Hannafords approach, though given time to prep some more food I wouldn't mind adding some more veggies + fruit snacks in throughout the day.


That being said, sometimes you need to cut loose a little.


Nowadays, fortunately or unfortunately, cutting loose looks a little bit different for me than it did pre-pandemic/baby/business.


A Friday night where I wanted to get crazy might look like:


Wake-up:

1 Scoop Whey Protein

100 Cal, 32g pro


Breakfast:

3 eggs sunny-side up

215 Cal, 19g pro, 1g cho, 14g fat


Lunch:

6 oz deli turkey + lettuce + sriracha

220 Cal, 29g pro, 12g cho, 6g fat


Afternoon Snack (post workout):

1 Scoop Whey Protein

100 Cal, 32g pro


Dinner:

3 Slices supreme pizza

915 Cal, 42g pro, 92g cho, 39g fat


1 Tallboy Sip of Sunshine IPA

165 Cal, 2g pro, 15g cho


After Dinner:

4 Chocolate chip cookies

340 Cal, 2g pro, 48g cho, 16g fat

8oz Whole Milk

149 Cal, 8g pro, 8g cho, 12g fat


Before Bed:

3/4 scoop Casein Protein

21g Pro, 70 Cal


Total- 2274 Cal, 187g pro, 175g cho, 87g fat


All hail milk and cookies.


This is not a cheat meal. You don't want a cheat relationship, why on earth would you want a nutritional lifestyle approach where you needed to regularly cheat on it? Like in a relationship, figure out a way to compromise and make things work, while still sticking in the framework you initially set out. Hungry Hearts relationship counseling coming next.


Choosing the beer, pizza, and cookies over the chicken + cauliflower would probably not have a great impact on your sleep, digestion, and other health markers if you made those decisions regularly. On my path to lean out though, that day shouldn't set me noticeably off track at all.


If laying out a plan like this seems like too much work to you- wait till you see what we have in store for you next.



Closing Thoughts


In general, all these styles of eating can be adopted at different times. Like I said in the video, you want to find a style of eating that you can follow for life, but that doesn't mean that different stages of life may call for different things. The same is true with time spent working out, time spent on career, time spent with family, etc. Your nutritional lifestyle should include plans for how you shift when you're in a busy season- because if you need conditions to be perfect in order to stay on track, it will be impossible to find longterm success.


Note that all of this works in degrees. I highly discourage an 'all or nothing' approach to controlling your nutrition. Give yourself permission to go rogue some of the time, but similarly, have the expectation on yourself to get right back on track as soon as possible.



Food should be fun (and colorful)


As a parting note, whatever your goals may be, I think it's worthwhile to take some time to introspectively examine the 'whys' of your goals. While there are definitely morbidities associated with obesity, modern studies show that people can achieve health and longevity at a variety of sizes, shapes, and physiques. Food, cooking, and eating can be a social experience, a way to learn about another culture, a nostalgic tradition, a way to challenge yourself, or just a way to share something nice with yourself and others. Eating is so much more than a lifetime spent chasing six pack abs. Look past what other people may say you should want, and try to identify what really brings you joy. All these approaches outlined above are intentionally focused on the food that you're eating vs the food that you're not eating. Stay hungry.



Yours in Food + Fitness,

Jamie


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