The third leg of the 4 Legs Fitness concept is about nutrition. Your nutrition must be aligned with your fitness goals. No matter if your goal is getting stronger, gaining mass or losing fat, you need to plan your diet accordingly otherwise you won’t reach your goal. Eating right is at least as important as physical exercise.
The first thing you need to set is the right calorie consumption per day. In order to know what’s the right amount we recommend to use one of the many online Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculators. A good one can be found at iifym.com. So, TDEE basically tells you based on your characteristics how much calories you burn per day on average. If you consume more than this, you gain weight. If you consume less, you lose weight. As a general rule of thumb you probably want to be in a slight caloric deficit -- unless you aim to compete in a Strongman competition.
After you have set the right calorie amount you aim to consume every day, you should define what foods to eat to achieve this amount. This is where macronutrients come in -- or short macros. There are also micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, which we over in more detail in our book. There are three types of macros that are responsible for your calories: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You will set the ratio between these depending on your goals. If you want to achieve strength or mass gain then the protein part will be fairly high (30% to up to 40% of your macro split).
We know that counting calories is boring and tedious but necessary. The good news is you don’t have to do it forever. We recommend to get an accurate kitchen scale and a tool to track your macros like the MyFitnessPal or YAZIO apps, which makes it a lot easier (eg, via the bar code scanning feature). We recommend doing it for at least three weeks very diligently. After that you get a very good intuitive feel about the macro split and calorie count of the food that you are consuming.
Supplementation is of course an important topic related to nutrition, too. Some supplementation is necessary. It may be hard to consume high levels of protein only via a normal diet without supplements. Some, however, are a total waste of money. We believe the most effective supplements are (source): caffeine (we love drinking coffee, black of course), vitamins (esp. D), magnesium, omega-3, protein, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), creatine, and glucosamine (to reduce joint pain, source). There is some controversy around the usefulness of BCAAs, which we discuss in our book. But there is always the Placebo, and if we believe it works, then it probably does.
Multivitamin supplements are a great way to fuel your body with the necessary vitamins and are easy to consume even with a hectic lifestyle. There are tons of such products available. We take multivitamin pills ourselves daily.
Generally a great source of scientifically backed articles and analysis of nutritional substances can be found at Examine.com.
In the next blog posts we will take a closer look at recovery, which is the fourth and final leg of 4 Legs Fitness concept. You can get all the details and also free access our training plan tool in our book. Interested? Take a look at our book page.