By Trevorkashey Athletic Xtreme
Most people have the training portion of their fitness regime down. Training is easy, right? Walk in the gym, beat yourself to a bloody pulp. It’s fun! However, the nutrition is where most everyone is lacking (assuming other lifestyle factors are in check). There are plenty of people who carry too much body fat and, a large portion of people that call themselves “hardgainers”.
When people come to me for help with either of these issues, the first question that comes out of my mouth is “How many calories did you eat yesterday?” 99.9% of the time, I get the look of a deer in headlights. When probed about their problem, typical responses you hear from these people are “I eat healthy” (whatever that means) and “I eat a ton! Like, all the time!”. The scientist in me cringes when I hear responses like this because they don’t mean anything. You can get fat on chicken and oats! Also, if you are complaining about not gaining weight (and you don’t have an ice cream scoop of peanut butter in your mouth), then you aren’t eating enough. Period.
There are certain things in the laboratory that have really transferred to my training regiment well. These two things have single-handedly increased my gains quicker than any supplement, split, or fad eating method.
1. Measuring EVERYTHING by MASS. Volumetric measurements are garbage.
Example: Measure out a cup of blueberries, and then weigh what a cup of blueberries ACTUALLY is. You would be surprised how much you are shortchanging yourself in calories.
On the other side of the spectrum, take out a massive lump of what normal people would call a “tablespoon” of peanut butter and measure that. You’d be amazed at the freakish difference of calories. Done multiple times per day? This can lead to hundreds of additional calories.
2. Keeping a lab notebook (in the athlete’s case, a food/workout log)
If you don’t know where you have been or where you currently are, how do you know you are heading in the right direction? Appropriate amounts of progressive overload and controlled calorie intake are key to making sure your gains are LEAN and DRY.
Weighing yourself daily is a useful tool when the numbers are viewed from a birds eye view of weeks to months. Daily fluctuations happen of course, but by eating and training consistently you can keep your fluctuations to a minimum (You will also have a positive correlative response).
The more variables you measure the better off you will be. You will be amazed at how quickly you learn. It will teach you how your own body functions and what is the appropriate amount of calories (and proportions thereof) you need to reach your goals.
3. Count every macro from everything.
This is outside of the laboratory, but due to my anal nature as a researcher I feel like this still plays a part. There is a huge section of the population who consumes calories that they “don’t count”. There is also a big section that does not count certain macros from certain foods:
Not counting the protein from bread (this not counting “complete protein” nonsense I will cover in another article)
- Not counting the fat in near fatless chicken breast
- Not counting the calories in the fish oil caps they are taking
- Not counting calories from their “sugar free” drinks.
- Not measuring their calories from vegetables
- Not measuring the calories in their coffee creamer
I could go on forever…
Some argue that this sort of minutia can turn a person’s mind into tapioca, but these “hidden” calories can also add up to hundreds of calories per day. Combined all of that with improper measurement and you have a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen people consuming over 1000 more calories per day than they were originally counting!
I am not saying go out and tweak on every little thing you do from here on out, I’m just suggesting you take a day and be thoughtful of everything you are doing. You will be surprised how off course (or on course) you may be. It is information like this that will help you achieve your goals in the long run.