Nutrition is a challenging subject to write about because everyone has an opinion when it comes to nutrition.
It has even become an ethical issue in society, and rightfully so because of the way we treat animals to produce food in the modern era.
Doctors make nutritional suggestions to their patients all the time. The concept of superfoods and super greens is also a hot topic.
Diets like keto and paleo have trended in recent years, and veganism is becoming more popular. More companies are starting to create more options for their dietary needs.
However, I attribute an enormous amount of my wellness to my nutrition protocol. Because it has changed my life so much, it is too difficult for me to not share with everyone.
The way that I write about food and nutrition is firmly going to be rooted in what has worked for me rather than what is “right and wrong,” but I will still quote appropriate literature to back up my points.
My goal is not to create division or disputes among anyone.
My goal is to share what adjustments I have made in my life that have helped me, hoping my followers will have a clearer path to follow a healthier lifestyle.
This article will serve as a very general overview of my nutritional recommendations.
Calories for Weight Loss
The most significant adjustment you can make in your life to start losing body fat is to start eating in a calorie deficit.
If you eat in a calorie deficit, you will lose fat. It does not matter if the calories come from fats, carbs, sugar, or alcohol.
You will lose fat if your overall caloric intake is less than your daily calorie expenditure.
A rough calculation for your daily energy expenditure is to multiply your body weight in pounds by the number 14.
If you are active for at least one hour a day (walking, standing, labor, working out, etc.), you can use the number 15 instead.
For example, if I weigh 165 pounds and am active and on my feet for at least an hour per day, my daily energy expenditure is 165 lbs x 15 = 2475 calories. I will also refer to this amount as your “maintenance” calories.
Eating 1700-2100 calories per day is a substantial calorie deficit for most people. A more significant deficit (fewer calories) will cause slightly faster weight loss.
Faster results can be very motivating, and eating in a substantial deficit at first can result in rapid fat loss.
However, I do not recommend eating fewer than 1700 calories per day, ever.
If you cut your calories too hard, your body will become too stressed to function correctly, and you will likely experience extreme cravings, moodiness, sleeplessness, and low energy levels (study).
Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, and fats contain 9 calories per gram.
Eating a mix of all three is crucial to maintaining proper hormonal balance, muscle mass, and energy levels while cutting calories.
For protein, I suggest you consume at least 100 g per day. Men should consume between 120 - 160 g, and women should consume between 100 - 140 g per day. The calculation I use is 0.8 g of protein per pound of body weight.
For example, a 180 lb person would consume 0.8 x 180 = 144 g protein per day.
Eating enough protein is essential to preserve muscle mass while cutting calories but do not over-consume protein! The maximum amount of protein you should eat on a given day is 160 grams.
I recommend consuming anywhere between 40-50% of your calories from carbohydrates.
This amount may seem high, but we will need carbs to support our training requirements.
You will be lifting weights and performing high-intensity interval cardio, so carbohydrates will aid in both performance and recovery (if you don't know how, check out my Axle Fit Course).
I recommend consuming between 20-30% of your calories from fats.
Fats will help keep you full and also maintain properly balanced hormone levels.
An excellent macro split for cutting is 30% protein, 45% carbs, and 25% fat. If you are consuming 2000 calories, you need 150 g of protein, 225 g of carbohydrates, and 56 g of fat.
2000 calories x 0.3 = 600 calories from protein
4 calories / gram of protein
600 calories / 4 calories from protein = 150 g of protein
2000 calories x 0.45 = 900 calories from carbs
4 calories / gram of carbs
900 calories / 4 calories from carbs = 225 g of carbs
2000 calories x 0.25 = 500 calories from fats
9 calories / gram of fat
500 calories / 9 calories from fats ~ 56 g of fat
If you do not feel like calculating calorie percentages, you can download the MyFitnessPal app to set your macro split.
It will estimate how many grams of each macronutrient you need automatically.
For more information on how to lose body fat, check out this video!
If You Want to Build Muscle, You Must Eat More Calories
If your goal is to build muscle, I recommend that you eat at your maintenance calories for three weeks and then start eating at a 200-300 calories per day surplus.
If you want to build muscle, you must eat more carbohydrates. Eating a little more fat will make hitting a calorie surplus easier if you struggle with eating enough food.
Still, you do not need to grossly increase your protein intake to build muscle. An excellent macro split for building muscle is 25% protein, 25% fat, and 50% carbs.
Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods to Correct Micronutrient Deficiencies
It baffles me that not as many people talk about micronutrients when it comes to nutrition.
Tracking fats, carbs, protein, and calories is a lot of work already, but every micronutrient plays a vital role in the biological systems that constitute our bodies.
Zinc, magnesium, selenium, boron, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, choline, iron, calcium, potassium, and sodium are all essential in maintaining proper hormone balances throughout the body and making energy available for all of the biological systems throughout the body.
All of the systems in your body depend on micronutrients and hormone balancing to function optimally.
These systems include but are not limited to the respiratory system, the digestive system, the central nervous system, the endocrine system, the skeletal system, the circulatory system, and the reproductive system.
If you are deficient in a given micronutrient or have a hormone imbalance, your body is not functioning optimally.
This aspect is critical.
When you use nutrition to correct micronutrient deficiencies and balance all of the hormones, you will experience a state of health that could be compared to the years of your youth.
Think about it. If your body has all of the available resources that it needs, why would you not feel like a million bucks?
Hormone levels dictate much of how our body functions, as made evident by the list of biological systems above that they play roles in.
They determine your energy levels throughout the day, your sex drive, your sleep patterns, mood, hunger levels, cravings, cognitive functioning, etc.
Another paramount concept to understand about how our bodies use energy is how ATP works.
ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate. It is the carrier of energy throughout the body.
To provide an analogy (that is far from perfect but for principle’s sake, let’s imagine that we need to transport coal to various industrial sites that require energy.
These sites represent different biological systems in our bodies, the coal represents calories, and the train represents ATP. The ATP transports the energy to the various sites.
Micronutrients would act as the train tracks in our representation. Micronutrients are how the ATP transporter molecules carry calories to and from the systems in the body. Micronutrients direct energy flow.
Just think about how a train would transport coal to industrial sites if it did not have train tracks to guide it.
That is how vital micronutrients are, and that is why I recommend consuming a micronutrient-dense diet.
Check out my post about 60 nutrient-dense foods you should add to your shopping list to see what foods I recommend consuming for micronutrient density.
Incorporate these foods into your diet, and you will start to feel the difference in a matter of weeks!
Portion sizes depend heavily on what kind of foods you like to eat. If you enjoy eating foods like potatoes and lean meats, you can eat bulkier portions.
That’s because they contain fewer calories than foods like rice, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese, or ribeye steaks.
My favorite low-calorie foods to fill up on are:
- greek yogurt
- chicken breasts or thighs
- wild shrimp
- lean ground beef (93/7 or 96/4)
- sirloin steak
- coconut oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- black coffee
- mineral water
- baked potatoes
- sweet potatoes
- bone broth
- eggs or egg whites
- cottage cheese
Eating a variety of these foods will keep you full and satisfy your appetite.
I love using intermittent fasting to eat two meals that consist of these foods every day. This method makes fat-loss a breeze.
You don’t need to consume only these foods, keep eating foods that you enjoy so you don’t feel deprived of the joys of life that come with eating great-tasting meals.
Just be more aware of what you put in your mouth and take small steps to consume a more nutrient-rich diet.
It took me a year to get to the point where I started to crave nutritious food rather than junk food, but achieving this state of health is absolutely amazing!
If you'd like me to post videos about specific content, leave a comment! I'm always doing research on fitness and nutrition so I'm constantly creating new content.