A Guide To Macronutrients – Helping You Hit Your Fitness Goals

Examples of food in a balanced diet

When you’re working hard to try and reach your health and fitness goals, exercising regularly is good. But exercise only makes up a small portion when it comes to hitting your fitness goals, losing weight, and becoming healthier.

Not many know, that your diet plays a huge role, even more so than exercise. And learning about macronutrients, or macros, is at the heart of succeeding with your diet and therefore – reaching your fitness goals!

Discover why tracking your macros is more important than you think and learn how using new technology makes this a whole lot easier…

 

Macros

Macros is a word that gets thrown around by every nutritionist, online coach, and PT, and for good reason. All of the food you consume is built up of the three macronutrient groups:

Protein

The body’s building block that helps your muscle growth and repair. Protein requires more energy to digest than the other 2 macronutrients which make a high protein diet excellent for those looking to achieve weight loss and muscle building.

Carbohydrate

The body’s primary source of energy. Complex carbs are extremely good for your health and brain as they are slow releasing. It is widely thought that low-carb diets are the only way to lose weight, however, cutting out simple sugary carbs and focusing on complex carbs like whole grains, vegetables, beans can be the answer.

Fat

Consumption of fats is crucial to the production of hormones and metabolism. Unsaturated fats (healthy fats) are our main source of energy whilst at rest. These can be found in foods like avocado, olive oil, and nuts.

These are the fats that people should try and eat more of if trying to up their fat content for energy on a low-carb diet. Saturated fats should be kept at a minimum.

 

A Rounded Diet Of Macros Is So Important For Your Fitness Goals

Whatever your goal, getting your macros right is a crucial step in making it a reality. For optimal health, the recommended breakdown of these macros is 60% carbs, 20% protein, and 20% fat.

 

Macros Are Important For WEIGHT LOSS

If your goal is weight loss you should be looking to increase your protein and fat intake whilst reducing your carbohydrates. The suggested breakdown would be 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbohydrate, however, this slightly varies depending on your unique needs.

It has been shown that increasing your protein intake can help you feel fuller for longer whilst lowering your overall daily calorific intake.

 

Macros Are Important For BUILDING MUSCLE

Building lean muscle is a goal many people aim to achieve by simply increasing their calorific intake, often referred to as a ‘dirty bulk’. Taking macros into account makes this goal a lot more attainable.

Typically, there needs to be a higher intake of carbohydrates if trying to achieve weight loss to give the body more energy during more grueling workouts.

Suggested macro guidelines are 50% carb intake, 30% protein, and 20% fat, with one key tip being to have a carb-heavy snack soon after your workouts (within an hour).

 

Macros WILL Help You Hit Your Fitness Goals

The reason why so many people fail to hit their fitness goals simply because their motivation runs out before they start seeing the results of their hard work.

Ignoring your macronutrients is the equivalent of running on a treadmill (ironically)! You might be moving and putting in a lot of effort, but in reality, you’re not going anywhere.

If you want to start hitting your fitness goals, whether that’s building muscle or losing weight, you can achieve that by incorporating macros into your daily diet and start hitting your fitness goals faster, to keep you motivated to push on for longer

 

Using APPS like MyFitnessPal makes tracking your macros easier than ever. They allow you to see the nutritional breakdown of each meal as well as calorific intake. MyFitnessPal also has a unique feature of calculating the required macro breakdown to help YOU achieve your fitness goal, and, it’s FREE so give it a go!

Weight Loss Myths… What Not To Do

Scales and tape measure

Nowadays, there is so much confusion about how to lose weight in the most effective way. Let us show you 5 common weight loss myths and explain why not all of the common perceptions surrounding weight loss are correct.

 

1. If You Miss A Meal Your Body Will Go Into Starvation Mode 

For thousands of years, humans have fasted. Muslims will fast during the holy month of Ramadan, Jews will fast throughout the judgement day of Yom Kippur and Christians during the 40 days of Lent and they function just fine.

However, in recent years we have decided to ignore thousands of years of history and state that fasting is not only bad for our health but will actually cause us to put on weight.

This common weight loss myth states that when we miss a meal or go without food for a prolonged period of time, the body will go into starvation mode. When we do eat again, our body decides to store whatever food it receives and tuck it away as body fat.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, actually, when we go without food our body realises that it is not receiving energy via the diet. So, the body is prepared for a situation like this, it accepts this fact and simply switches over to burning the energy that it has stored away as body fat. Hence we lose weight.

2. Meal Replacement Shakes Are A Healthy Way To Lose Weight

With the rise of companies such as Forever Living, Arbonne and Slimfast, meal replacement shakes are becoming an increasingly popular method of weight loss.

Meal replacement shakes are usually bottled products that are consumed instead of eating one of your main meals (breakfast, lunch or dinner), in an effort to reduce your calorie intake resulting in weight loss.

However, the average “healthy” meal replacement shake contains approximately 5 teaspoons of sugar. Now, instead of breakfast, would you drink a cup of tea with 5 teaspoons of sugar in it and still deem it healthy…?

There are 3 main issues with meal replacement shakes:

The 1st is the sugar content. When we take on a high amount of sugar this stimulates insulin, the fat-storing hormone. So when the “slimming programme” is over, because insulin has been consistently stimulated over a long-term basis, the body is in storage mode. Thus, when the individual starts to eat whole meals again, these meals are more likely to be stored as fat.

The 2nd issue is that when you lose weight using meal replacement shakes, you’re not actually changing anything in the diet. So the minute that your weight has been lost, 9 times out of 10 you will revert back to eating how you were before because the original issue in the diet hasn’t been recognised and nothing has changed. Therefore, returning back to old original habits brings about the same result as before, weight gain.

Finally, these meal replacement shakes are crazy expensive! For example, the Forever Living Clean 9 costs in excess of £100 for 9 days worth of shakes!

 

3. Weight Loss Is All About Calories…

If you have ever been on a diet, I have no doubt that you will have heard of the dreaded calorie.

“Don’t eat that, it’s high in calories”

“Oh I burnt 500 calories today”

But has anyone ever explained to you what a calorie actually is…?

One of the main problems with popular diets, the majority are centred around calories and making sure that you consume as few calories as possible.

There are multiple issues with this weight loss model. Two of the main issues are that if anyone has ever gone on a low-calorie diet, they will know that you are SO HUNGRY all of the time and eating bowls of pasta and pot’s of low-calorie yoghurt really is not an enjoyable way of eating.

Another common problem is that low-calorie food means low-fat food, which means the majority of your meals are centred around carbohydrates. For more information on why you shouldn’t cut fat out of the diet, and limit carbohydrates click here.

One thing to note is that not all calories are the same, 100kcal of lettuce and 100kcal of chocolate may have the same calorie content, but they have completely different effects on the body when eaten.

You don’t want to (or need to) spend the rest of your life, weighing your food counting calories. It is not an effective weight-loss strategy. Weight loss should not be difficult and centred around foods that taste like cardboard. Get excited about your food, enjoy the weight loss process and sod the calories.

 

4. You Have To Exercise To Lose Weight

Normally, when an individual decides to lose weight, their first port of call is the treadmill, but is this beneficial?

This is not the case. Cardiovascular exercise has multiple health benefits, but as an effective fat loss strategy it’s not the best of tools.

Weight loss can certainly be achieved through diet alone.

 

5. Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

This is probably the most common weight loss myth that we come across. The notion that we must have breakfast in the morning to speed up our metabolism. If we skip breakfast we will have no energy throughout the day and our body will go into starvation mode (see point 1).

Let’s just start by looking at the word “Breakfast” it means breaking your fast. It doesn’t say “You must break your fast as soon as you wake up”. Your body has gone in excess of 12 hours without food, going another 2-3 hours without food certainly won’t do it any harm.

Again, as stated earlier, when we go for a period of time without food, we actually allow our body to burn the food energy that it has stored as body fat.

A common phrase we hear is “I don’t eat enough”. Now if we actually look at that sentence, why would eating MORE food mean that you would lose weight? It doesn’t really make sense.

The Importance of Rest and Recovery in Fitness

WHY REST AND RECOVERY IS IMPORTANT IN FITNESS

The last thing your gym members want to plan for when chasing gains is having a day off. However, the truth is that rest and recovery is just as important as going to the gym in the first place. Recovery will prepare your members physically and mentally to gain the most from their workouts. This post will look at why rest and recovery are essential in fitness and why they need to be included in every gym and fitness club management strategy.

SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM REST & RECOVERY

Recovery in fitness can be divided into two types; ‘short-term’ and ‘long-term’. A Michigan State University article that covers the importance of rest and recovery for athletes states that short-term recovery takes place in the hours directly following exercise. This includes low-intensity exercise as a cooldown period. Conversely, long-term recovery refers to the planned recovery periods as part of an on-going routine. These can consist of days or weeks that an athlete dedicates to rest.

WHY IS RECOVERY ESSENTIAL?

During recovery, the body adapts to the stress caused by exercise and replenishes the energy that has been used. An important aspect of recovery, especially to those who are aiming to build muscle, is the recovery of damaged tissues. The damaged tissue is not an injury; it is how muscles grow. this is why the intake of protein is essential during this process. Avoiding rest and recovery time can result in overtraining, which may lead to a number of negative symptoms such as muscle fatigue, insomnia, decreased immunity, loss of enthusiasm and potentially depression.

HOW TO PUSH RECOVERY IN YOUR FITNESS CLUB

The relationship between physical health and mental well=being depends on time on and time off. -State of mind when training is an all-important factor. In fact, a mental barrier will stop a gymgoer just as much as physical fatigue will. Therefore, the key to promoting recovery is to introduce it in line with health and well-being. So, you should place emphasis on a prepared mental state to boost motivation and success.

A simple way to ensure recovery is promoted in your fitness club is by getting your personal trainers to encourage clients to include rest in their routines. Although there are many options, Myprotein provides a great way to think about and plan rest and recovery. Essentially, there is no clear number of days that should be dedicated to rest because it depends on the nature of the clients’ regime and lifestyle. However, the allocated rest time should be dependent on factors such as the frequency of workouts, volume of workouts, intensity of workouts and how active their lifestyle is.

Alongside this, Bodybuilding.com proposes key recovery factors to consider, such as post-workout nutrition (protein and potassium), having quality sleep, and pushing limits rather than annihilating them, allowing for quicker recovery time. Additionally, the most essential notion that is important for PTs is to encourage a healthy lifestyle that balances work and rest.

A further way to promote rest and recovery in any fitness club is using décor. As you may have seen, inspirational quotes and fitness heroes are key motivators, which is why they regularly cover gym walls. In this way, rest and recovery taking centre stage on your gym walls are sure to remind member just how important it is.

Another great idea is to actively include rest and recovery in your club. This can be done by providing a recovery space in your premises. This space could include a coffee shop for a pre-workout caffeine fix or a nutrition bar for high-protein shakes and foods. Depending on the size of your gym or fitness club, this could extend into post-workout spas that can include saunas, sports massages and even ice baths.

Stressed, Depressed or Anxious? Exercise Could be the Answer

Mental health has become an increasingly prevalent talking point in recent years, and it’s no surprise when we consider that Mental health-related complications are one of the main causes of the world’s overall disease burden. As awareness around mental wellness has grown, exercise has been hailed as an inexpensive method of dealing with ailments such as stress, depression, anxiety and even sleeping problems.

A scientifically proven mood booster, exercise encourages the release of chemical endorphins in the brain and nervous system. This, the body’s famous ‘feel-good’ chemical produces feelings of happiness and euphoria. So much so that even only moderate exercise throughout the week can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. As a result, many doctors will recommend an exercise regime for mental health conditions before prescribing medication.

Our mental health is also closely linked to the quality of sleep we get a night. There’s a vicious cycle whereby poor sleep leads to worrying, and worrying leads to poor sleep – exercise can help break this trend. The increase in body temperature that comes from working out in the gym has a calming effect on the mind. Whilst the body’s natural alarm clock, our circadian rhythm, is also better regulated when we take part in a regular exercise regime.

Noticing the changes that going to the gym has on our body can be a huge boost to our self-esteem. Better still, there’s no shortage to the physical achievements we can experience through regular exercise! You may not set out for better fitting clothes, less laboured breathing on your Sunday walk or a spring in your step. Oftentimes, the improvements that exercise has on our endurance and physique catches us by surprise.

Reduced stress levels are another mental benefit of exercise, and undoubtedly something that could make us all happier! Increasing our heart rate stimulates the production of hormones in our brain such as norepinephrine, which not only improves mood but can also lead to clearer thinking when experiencing stressful events. Some studies go as far as to suggest that physical activity boosts creativity and mental energy. So if you’re in need of inspiration or mental clarity, your best bet may be heading to the gym for a quick work out!

So next time you’re feeling low, why not lace up your trainers and head out on a jog, lift some weights in the gym or do a few lengths of your local pool. You’ve got nothing to lose and science says it’ll make you feel better!