Everyone understands the importance of proper nutrition and how it can benefit your body composition as well as your overall health. However I find a lot of people drowning in the vastness of nutrition and proper diet.
There is an overwhelming amount of research and methodologies that are all correct and valid, but the application to the individual is poor.
As opposed to blaming research, I find the biggest obstacle in people reaching their nutrition goals is often the misuse of the method they are utilizing. They've found some new diet or trend, and then begin implementing it without having a true understanding for how to manage it.
Far to often I see elite collegiate athletes eating no carbs, and then failing to compensate for the complete loss of a macronutrient by eating enough fat and protein. Low carbohydrate diets have been shown to improve body composition, decrease visceral fat and optimize insulin health, but it's important to note that low carbohydrate does not have to mean low calorie.
Low calorie for an elite athlete means lower energy levels and decreased performance. This is only one example, but represents a major issue that impairs many from reaching their goals.
To prevent this, as an individual, you must look at yourself and your goals objectively, then pick the nutrition plan to fit those goals. This is where things can get tricky.
Looking into details like:
What energy system do you primarily train in?
What type of volume will you be utilizing?
How long do you have to recover?
Suddenly the thousands of good ideas and nutrition fads seem to fade.
To simplify some of these questions for you, I have come up with 3 of the most common types of people I work with and the type of meal plan I would utilize with them:
Elite Collegiate Athlete
The elite collegiate athlete is going to be my model for high volume activity. They have all of the stresses and constraints normal college students have with classes and work load, and then they expend extremely high levels of energy in their training.
This high stress routine could easily occupy 6 days of the week and is incredibly taxing on all of the systems of the body.
Such high volume and stress demands a caloric surplus, and at the very least a moderate intake of carbohydrates...if not high.
This need for carbohydrates comes from looking at the autonomics of this lifestyle. So much stress imposed on the body causes levels of glucocorticoids and other sympathetic related hormones to be elevated throughout the day, and out of their natural rhythm.
Not only can that lead to a plethora of diseases, but it can put a severe damper on performance--especially in the area of arousal. Carbohydrate consumption can help combat some of the negative effects related to these excessive stress levels.
In addition, properly timing carbohydrates around training can help any athlete expect to see far improved energy levels and recovery.
The Average Joe
The average joe is the modality I will use for the general population of regularly active people. They work full time five days a week and engage in some sort of resistance or aerobic based training three to five times a week.
This is a great group of people to work with because there are so many potential options for a meal plans. It really allows lifestyle and personal choice to take some control, which we rarely find in the elite athletes.
This person can choose something as simple as evenly divided meals throughout the day or get as complex as an intermittent carbohydrate cycling and fasting approach, and everything in between. The main parameter for this group will be total caloric intake.
The hybrid athlete is a group of people with gobs of potential.
Work occupies the majority of their day and can prove to be stressful, but they also tend to crush training sessions at the bookends of the day. They have a more than fit attitude, but have to fit their performance and physique goals within the confines of their professional schedules.
This allows for plenty of effective methods of manipulating the placement of their bulk carbohydrate and calorie consumption. Depending on the time they hit the gym, a fasting-loading protocol could be very effective at improving body composition while improving performance.
Here is an example meal plan for this population with the following attributes:
Looking to increase fat free mass
Train in the morning before work
Vigorous resistance training with some type of conditioning work mixed in
Pre Training Shake
1.5 servings BCAA’s, 2 cups of black coffee
Intra Training Shake1 serving BCAA’s with 1 serving liquid carbs
Post Workout Shake1.5 servings of hydrolyzed protein, 2 scoops liquid carbs
Meal 1- 9-10am4 hardboiled eggs, 4oz of chicken breast, 1oz of cheese
Meal 2- 12-1pm6oz of 88/12 beef, 45g of uncooked rice, 1 serving greens
Meal 3- 5-7pm6oz turkey burger with 1oz cheese and 1 baked potato
Meal 4- 7:30 PM8oz chicken breast, 6 slices of bacon, 84g of uncooked rice, 1 serving greens, 1oz cheese
The beautiful, and confusing, thing about nutrition is there are hundreds of options, and with proper consideration and compliance to the plan, they all work.
Objectifying your nutrition and performance goals, and then using that info to pick a nutrition plan, is the key to actually reaching them. Whatever your nutrition goal may be, question yourself, pick a plan and stick to it.
*Note from James: For more on nutrition I'd recommend checking out our free Webinar.
I know this article had a lot of info in it, so feel free to hit me up below with questions you have about the article or the sample meal plan.
about the author
Andrew Triana “The Leucine Frog” is a promising young coach who has an intense passion for his clients success and writing. It is evident in his work that he is relentless in his pursuit of excellence. At 20 years old Andrew has produced National champions, World champions, Pro strongmen, and has helped many others reach their goals. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewTriana) and Instagram (@andtriana).