Macro-Nutrients: Protein

Why consume protein


What does it do

Protein is needed for growth, the formation and repair of body cells. It is also used to make enzymes, hormones and antibodies. It can become a fuel source for the body (third choice behind carbohydrates and fat). It is required for complete nutrition.

How much do you need?

Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for general population is 0.75g/kg a day. Regular exercisers need more than sedentary people. Endurance activities such as running, cycling and swimming you should aim to consume 1.2-1.4g/kg per day. Ideal protein intake can be reached via meals and supplements such as protein shakes.

What happens if I under/over consume?

Under consumption

Skipping on protein occasionally is not a problem. However, long term can lead to fatigue and slow recovery after training. Can also cause a loss of muscle tissue and strength.

Over consumption

Consuming excess protein is not an issue as long as it is not constant or too excessive. The body will excrete excess or use some as a fuel source. Extra protein is not harmful. It does not cause kidney or liver damage, nor does it cause dehydration or bone mineral loss. However, excess protein will not improve performance.

Appetite Control

Protein is more satiating than carbohydrates or fat. Consuming a high-protein breakfast improves appetite control and stops food cravings later in the day. You should aim to include 20g protein in each meal (remember drinks such as milk adds to this).


Sources of Protein


Meats and Fish

Examples:

Chicken Breast (125g) – 36g

Beef Sirloin Steak (85g) – 21g

Dairy Products

Examples:

600ml Milk – 21g

3 eggs – 21g

Nuts and Seeds

Examples:

Almonds (50g) – 11g

Peanuts (50g) – 12g

Beans and Lentils

Examples:

Baked beans (200g) – 10g

Lentils (150g) – 13g

Soya and Quorn

Examples:

600ml Soy Milk – 20g

Quorn burger (50g) – 6g

Grains and Cereals

Examples:

Wholegrain Spaghetting (180g) – 9g Quinoa (180g) – 8g

Macro-Nutrients: Fat

Why Consume Dietary Fat


Fuel Source

Fat is your bodies secondary fuel source (after carbohydrates). Although can only be used in low to medium intensity exercise due to requiring more oxygen to break down.

Essential to ensure correct functioning of your body

Eating dietary fat also helps by:

  • Allowing your cell membranes to function correctly
  • Aids the absorption and transportation of vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Source of Omega 3 and Omega 6

How much should you consume?

There is no specific recommendations but rather a guideline of 20-35% of energy from fats.

The link between total fat and heart disease is weak. Instead it is down to the type of fat you eat that can lead to issues.

 


Types of Fat


Saturated (no double bonds)

Aid the structure and function of cell membranes. Used as a source of energy. Helps bones taking up calcium, functioning of the immune system and protects liver from effects of alcohol.

Sources include:

Meat, Butter, Milk, Cheese, Coconut oil, Cakes, Biscuits

Mono-Unsaturated (one double bond)

Lower harmful low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol without affecting good high density lipoprotein (HDL) level. Therefore cutting heart disease and cancer risk.

Sources include:

Olive oil, Rapeseed oil, Nuts, Seeds, Avocados

Poly-Unsaturated (two or more double bonds)

Examples include Omega 3 and Omega 6. Your body cannot produce these so needed to ingest. They help maintain the correct structure of cell membranes.

Sources Include:

Sunflower oil, Corn oil, Safflower oil, Nuts, Seeds


Cooking and Trans-Fat


Trans-Fat

These are the harmful fats! Tiny amounts occur naturally in meat and dairy products- most are made artificially during a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogen is added to oil to make it hard like lard. This is done in some takeaways and fast foods, pastries, biscuits, cakes. They increase harmful LDL cholesterol and decrease good HDL cholesterol. You want to minimise the intake of trans fats to achieve optimum nutrition. Instead look to eat the correct types of dietary fat.

What to cook with

Avoid polyunsaturated oils (such as corn and sunflower oil) due to their instability at high temperatures. Opt instead for light olive oil and rapeseed oil, which are rich in monounsaturated fats and therefore more stable.

Coconut oil has potential to raise HDL cholesterol, however is high in saturated fat so will also raise LDL levels – not enough research into overall effect on the heart as of yet.

Macro-Nutrients: Carbohydrates

Purpose of Carbohydrates


Why eat Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the predominant fuel for muscles as the majority of activity relies on glucose (carbs) for energy. There is no physiological function of carbohydrates for them apart from energy. It is also the preferred fuel for the heart, nervous system and brain that use ~130g daily.

How much do you need?

It depends on your goals, the amount of exercise and intensity you train at. The longer and harder you train the more you need. For example, if you do moderate activity (swim, run, cycle) for an hour a day then you should aim to consume 5-7g/kg of body weight daily for optimum nutrition.

What if you over or under eat Carbohydrates?

Under Eating

Low carbohydrate diets or exercising with low stores can result in early fatigue, reduced stamina and poor performance. I.e. Have you ever ran or swam on an empty stomach? If you eat too few after training recovery will be impaired and extended, symptoms of over training may become present.

Over Eating

Once eaten carbohydrates are converted into glycogen and stored in your liver and muscles. These stores are small and can only store around 100g (400calories) in liver and 400g (1600 calories) in muscles. Once your stores are ‘full’ the body converts excess carbs into fat. More carbs does not equal more energy, similar to overfilling a fuel tank won’t make your car go faster.

The Sugar Debate

Performance

Sugar can aid performance that lasts over 60minutes and muscles need quick fuel. Consuming a sports drink/banana/ dried fruit can help perform longer or maintain intensity. It is not necessary for shorter sessions. Eating too much or poorly timed intake can lead to too much insulin being created by the body, leading to lower blood glucose levels than before and feelings of tiredness, weakness and lightheaded. It is ‘safer’ to consumer a low GI meal 2-4hours before exercise or only consume small amounts of sugar prior to exercise.

Health

The main issue is that sugar leads to tooth decay. It also makes food and drink more palatable and therefore more easy to over-consume. It is not fattening, but can lead to over-consumption of calories. his is linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes, but main contributor of this is excess calories not sugar.


Glycaemic Index

Glycaemic Index is the ranking of foods from 0-100 based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels in the bloodstream. Carbohydrates used to be classified as simple or complex according to number of sugar units in the molecule. But this tells little about the effect on the blood glucose level.

What use is GI? 

You can use the GI of foods to plan intake around your training and competition. High GI means fast release and fast energy. Eat low or moderate GI meals in your day to day. This regulates blood glucose and insulin levels, promotes recovery and keep energy levels constant. Also lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

GI does not take into account portion size. You can use Glycaemic load (GL) instead. 

GL= (GI x carbohydrates per portion) / 100.

For optimal glycogen storage and minimal fat storage aim to achieve a small or moderate glycaemic load – eat little and often.  Some foods may have a low GI, such as Crisps, but can easily be over eaten. While high GI such as Watermelon, you would need to eat 720g to raise blood glucose significantly, while he average portion is 120g and only provide 6g of carbs so has no effect.


Which GI and When


Low GI (<55)

Your main meals throughout the day should be low to moderate GI. This provides a smaller but longer rise in your blood glucose, providing energy throughout the day.

Examples of Low GI foods include:

Peanuts (14), Whole Milk (27), Skimmed Milk (32), Spaghetti (38),  Milk Chocolate (43), Carrots (47), Banana (52), Crisps (54), Brown Rice (55)

Moderate GI (56-69)

Your main meals throughout the day should be low to moderate GI. This provides a smaller but longer rise in your blood glucose, providing energy throughout the day. Moderate GI meals will provide more energy that low GI meals and should be consumed when you have an activity packed day.

Examples of Moderate GI foods include:

Pitta bread (57), Porridge (58), Pizza (60), Tortillas (63), Couscous (65), Instant porridge (66), Croissant (67), Weetabix (74)

High GI (>70)

High GI food is ideal for when you need quick energy. Examples of such a situation include, just before a race or during an event that lasts over an hour. These foods provide a rapid rise in blood glucose. However, if you mistime or over-consume high GI food it can led to a rapid rise in insulin leading to lower blood glucose levels than before and feelings of tiredness, weakness and lightheaded. It is ‘safer’ to consumer a low GI meal 2-4hours before exercise or only consume small high GI snack prior to exercise.

Examples of High GI foods include:

White bread (70), Wholemeal bread (71), Watermelon (72), Cheerios (74), Chips (75), Cornflakes (81), Baked potato (85), Lucozade (95)

Truth vs. Porkie Pie #1

In this section we discuss a variety of beliefs in regards to food! We aim to cut through the jargon and provide easy to digest nutrition facts! Here is the first edition (of hopefully) many: 

All fats are bad

This is a porkie pie.

Fat is an essential part of any diet, it is used as fuel by the body and is also crucial for health. For example, it plays an important role in the absorption and transportation of vitamins!

There are three different types of fat, these are: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. A combination of all three fats is ideal in maintaining a balanced diet. Saturated fats aid body function and provide energy, can be found in meat, milk and egg yolks. Monounsaturated fats lower harmful low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and can be found in avocados, olive oil and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats help maintain the correct structure of cell membranes, an example is omega-3 and omega-6. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in sunflower oil, nuts and seeds.

The ‘bad’ fats are called trans fats. The majority of these are formed artificially from a process called hydrogenation (basically hardening oil). Trans fats can be found in pastries and long life processed foods. They increase LDL cholesterol levels and consequently increase your risk of heart disease. It is recommended that you have an intake of less than 2% of your calories from trans fats (roughly 5g) per day

You shouldn’t eat carbs after 7pm

This is a porkie pie.

There is not ‘switch’ where carbohydrates turn bad during the day! When you exercise your primary source of energy is glycogen (what your body converts carbohydrates into). However, your body can only store 100g of glycogen in your liver (~400 calories) and 400g in your muscles (~1600 calories). Therefore, it is important to refill your glycogen stores. Any excess glycogen is converted into fat.

As a result, it is suggested that you do not consume excess carbohydrates 2-3h before you call it a night. This is because your activity levels are reducing and you are less likely to deplete your glycogen stores; therefore, there is a greater chance that any carbohydrates digested will be converted into fat. It is important that you are aware of the time of day that you consume your foods. Plan your meals around your activity, not purely based on time of day to get the most out of your meals!

Carb loading will improve performance

This is true.

Carbohydrate loading can help improve performance – when done correctly! Put simply, this is a process where you reduce your carbohydrate consumption leading up to an event. Then ingest a great deal of carbohydrates in the days prior to the event, this will lead to your body increasing its glycogen stores in the muscle and liver – leading to more available energy for performance.

However, if incorrectly done, carbohydrate loading can lead to a decrease in performance. The sudden influx of carbohydrates to the body may lead to stomach pain or discomfort during performance. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you practice this process during training! This will allow for you to gain a clear idea of what works best with you and allows your body to get used to the process.

You can’t drink too much water

This is a porkie pie.

Water is essential in ensuring that your body functions correctly. Water makes up over 60% of your body weight and is vital to all cells. It is the medium in which all metabolic reactions take place, including energy production. Water also acts as a cushion for your nervous system, lubricant for your joints and eyes. The generic guideline for water intake is 2.5 litres for men and 2.0 litres for women.

However, you can drink too much water and over hydrate. Drinking too much water will cause the sodium in your blood to become diluted (known as hyponatraemia). This will lead to nausea, lethargy, dizziness and disorientation.

A way to minimise the risk of over hydration is to start your training session fully hydrated! You ought to drink 5-7ml/kg of body weight 4h before exercising. Then drink to thirst, using regular small sips over irregular large intakes. If the environment is hot and humid or you are sweating a lot expect to drink more!

Sugar causes diabetes

This is a porkie pie.

The belief that consuming sugar will lead to the development of diabetes is unfounded. Sugar is a carbohydrate (with a very high glycaemic index). Therefore, as with the consumption of other carbohydrates, sugar will not cause you to develop diabetes in a healthy balanced diet.

Diabetes is caused by an over consumption of calories in a diet. Regardless of the source of the calories.

Sugar has a high calorie content. The only issue with the consumption of sugar in a healthy balanced diet, is the risk of tooth decay. However, it is important to be aware of how much sugar you consume daily. This is because sugar is very palatable and very easy to over consume! Remember to include natural sugar from fruits when investigating your intake.

Sugar can also help aid performance that lasts over two hours (Keep an eye out for an update explaining how soon!).

Fasted Training is Great for Weight-Loss

This is a porkie pie.

A common misconception is that fasted training will speed up fat loss. Fasted Training (FT) involves exercise without a pre-workout meal. For example, going for a run or to the gym once you wake up before you have breakfast. By doing this your body has glycogen available for the working muscles, meaning that your body shall switch to fat for energy sooner; theoretically, this will lead to your body burning more fat and boosting your fat loss in a session.

However, although the premise is correct, FT isn’t all good news! By training without fuelling your body beforehand you shall deplete your muscles glycogen stores quickly. Although this is the aim of fasted training, the effect this has on the body is often overlooked. Depleted glycogen stores will lead to you feeling low on energy, unmotivated, and weaker. Therefore, you will not be able to run as fast or as long or train at the intensity that you are aiming for. The sessions will be shorter and the less work will be completed.

As a result, it is likely that you will burn fewer calories during FT. Which brings into question the use of FT as a training style for weight-loss. Sculpt. does not recommend FT but rather fuel your body right, train at a high intensity and achieve your goals in a way that you can maintain!

Running

There are many benefits of running. From favourable adaptations to your physiology, such as: improved cardiovascular fitness, improved lung capacity and improved bone health. As well as psychological benefits, such as: providing a sense of freedom, reducing stress and helps fight against illnesses like depression. This post will help you plan your run, give you some cross training ideas to improve your running and also touch upon some running nutrition.

Plan Your Run

If you want to progress in your running it is important to plan out your sessions and taper to any events. It is also important to warm up and cool down correctly prior to and following any runs. This section looks to help you plan a running routine to help progress your running to new improved heights!

As with all activities it is imperative that you warm up and cool down. This is often overlooked when running or even performed wrong! A good warm up will help prepare your body for the challenge of the session. A good warm up will follow the RAMP principle (explained in the warm up blog – coming soon!).  A warm up ought to:

  • Increase your heart rate – this increases the flow of oxygenated blood to your working muscles which is needed to reduce lactic acid build up and produce energy
  • Increase your muscle temperature – this makes your muscles more malleable which reduces the risk of injury and ‘pulled’ muscles
  • Allows you to prepare mentally and get ‘in the zone’

After you warm up, you need to decide what sort of session you want to perform. We have picked 5 to discuss here, but there are many more to try with a little research online! 

Long Slow Distance (Continuous Training) – 

Continuous training means that you perform an exercise for an extended period of time with no rest or large change in intensity. An example, would be going out and running half marathon distance. This training is fairly low intensity and a good way to get your body used to increased distance. These sessions should last at least 30 minutes.

Interval training

Interval training means that you alternate between bouts of high and low intensity during your run. You can adjust the intensity of this by planning out your rest to work ratio (low to high intensity). For example, you could perform 1.5km at a comfortable pace then perform 0.5km at a greatly increased pace and repeat. This form of training is more intense than continuous training but helps your body deal with lactic acid and stress that you would experience on a longer run, but in a shorter time frame.

Fartlek Training

Fartlek training is similar to interval training. You break down your run into stages (for example: Walk, Jog comfortably, Run race pace, and sprint). Then you would plan to alternate which stage you perform throughout the run. For example: Run 5min, Sprint 30sec, Jog 3min, Walk 1min, Run 3min etc. This is again more intense than continuous training and also a good way to put your body under stress when time is limited. It is more structured than interval training and a great way to mix up your running!

Building

Building refers to you increasing your pace continuously after a set time or distance. For example: First kilometre run in 5min, 2nd in 4.5min, 3rd in 4min etc. You can also perform this in reverse or as a pyramid (Gradual increase to max, then gradual decrease back to comfortable pace). This is a good way to mix up your training and push your body in a new way and work on your speed as well as endurance!

Specific Training

Specific training is, well, specific. This is when you highlight a weakness in your running and hone in to train that weakness. An example of specific training can be hill running. These sessions are generally shorter during and focus on your technique and adapt your approach to obstacles that you may encounter during longer or new runs.

To see how your diet should change to match your training and on competition days check our performance nutrition post!

Training and Performance Nutrition

So we have made a post that covers your daily nutrition, what you should aim to consume and some tips on following a healthy diet that suits you. However, if you train regularly then you may find that a more detailed guide is needed. Well no fear, you are reading one such guide!
Before we go any further it is important to get the nutrition lingo on lock down and work out how many calories you need each day.
So what is a calorie?
A calorie is a measurement of energy that food contains. They are obtained from carbohydrates, fats, protein and alcohol; per 1g of each they provide, 4kcal, 9kcal, 4kcal and 7kcal respectively.
How many calories do you need?
To answer this you need to work out your basal metabolic rate (BRM). The quick and easy method is:
Women BMR = weight (kg) x 2 x 11
Men BMR = weight (kg) x 2 x 12
This gives you a rough guideline into the amount of calories your body burns at rest over 24h.
Daily calorie needs:
To work out your daily calorie needs you need to times your BMR by Physical Activity Level (PAL) to get daily calorie needs
Inactive/sedentary = x 1.2
Fairly active, exercise 1-2 times a week = 1.3
Moderately active, exercise 2-3 times a week = 1.4
Active, exercise hard more than 3times a week = 1.5
Very active, exercise hard daily = 1.7
Eg. 70kg Inactive Women = 1848kcal, Active = 2618kcal
Glycaemic Index = Ranking of foods from 0-100 based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels in the bloodstream.

 

Still with us? I know that was exceedingly boring, who wants to do maths for fun?! But it is important to work out your energy requirements and plan your meals/snacks to fuel yourself correctly. This will give you more energy, improve your mood and help you smash your goals – worth it!

How does your diet change for training and competition days? 

It takes 24h to refill muscle glycogen stores, so what you eat the day before matters. You should consume 3-7g/kg of carbohydrates to ensure full stores. Therefore the main purpose of a pre-workout or training meal is to stabilise blood sugar levels during the exercise. It serves to stave off hunger and minimise risk of issues such as stitches and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).

1-4 hours before training

It is important to start your training fully hydrated. You can do this by drinking 5-7ml/kg 2-4h before training. If you forget to do this then drink 100-250ml of water if you are training in less than an hour! You want to aim to eat 2-4g of carbohydrate per kilogram 2-4 hours before a training session in the form of a small meal, such as pasta and chicken/ rice and fish. If you are unable to do this you should consume 1g of carbohydrate per kilogram in the hour before you train. This can be done by eating a banana or some toast and honey.

During a Short Session (sub. 60min)

Hydration is important during a short session and you should aim to ‘drink to thirst’. Take small and frequent sips when you feel the need for a drink. You will not need to consume any extra carbohydrates during this duration. Instead stick to water or a low-calorie squash.

During a 1-2h Session

You should still drink to thirst during and expect to consume roughly 400-800ml of water per hour. You should aim to consume 15-30g of carbohydrate every 15-30 minutes, aiming for a total of 30-60g per hour. This can be done by consuming energy/granola bars, gels, dried fruit and honey. Remember that if you decide to drink squash or a sports drink to take into account the calories from it!

During a Long Run (over 2h)

Aim to drink 400-800ml of water per hour according to thirst; taking small sips little and often. You want to consume 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour. Unless you are running for over 3h, in which case this should be increased up to 90g per hour. This can come from sports drinks, bananas, gels, energy/granola bars, dried fruit and honey.

After a Session (lasting over 60min)

Post session you should drink 750ml of water per 0.5kg weight you have lost compared to the start of the run. You should eat a small snack containing both carbohydrate and protein in a 3:1 ratio. This can be done by drinking milk and a flapjack, or a sandwich and yogurt. More information on recovery nutrition coming soon!

We hope that this has been clear and helped you plan and adapt your diet around your training to get the best performance! Let us know your thoughts and share any snacks or tips that you have with others. Keep an eye out for our recovery nutrition post coming soon! 

-The Sculpt Team

 

 

Daily Nutrition

Finding reliable and direct everyday nutrition advice can be difficult in a world as saturated as the fitness industry online. Not only do many professionals differ in their approach to optimal nutrition, but the science behind what is best for your body constantly changes as well!

Sculpt want to help you cut through the fat and help provide you with some easy to digest nutrition basics. These are the bare-bones for you to structure your diet around. If you train or exercise regularly your diet will need to be adapted to ensure you are fuelling and recovering correctly. So without further ado, here is what the UK national food guidelines state for adults:

  • Average male should consume 2550 calories daily while the average female ought to consume 1950 calories
  • A minimum of 55g of protein
  • At least 50% of your calories are from carbohydrate digestion
  • Maximum of 70g and 50g of sugar for males and females respectively
  • Maximum 35% of your calories are from fat digestion
  • Maximum of 30g and 20g of saturated fat for males and females respectively

As mentioned earlier, these are just some rough guidelines – not rigid rules. You’ll often find that if you are exercising regularly, or have a fixed goal such as to lose body fat, that your macro-nutrient (dietary fat, carbohydrate and protein) intake will vary from these guidelines. For example; a bodybuilder who is aiming to compete and wants to drop their body fat percentage will reduce their carbohydrate intake and increase their protein and fat intake.

So the UK guidelines have given us some numbers to work with, but what about the structure of our meals? Well the Food Standards Agency have given 8 healthy eating tips to follow:

  1. Base your meals on starchy food (pasta, rice, potato etc)
  2. Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day (2/3 adults currently fail to achieve this)
  3. Eat 2 portions of fish per week (one of which being oily)
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
  5. No more than 6g of salt per day
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight
  7. Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day
  8. Don’t skip breakfast

Again, these are just guidelines but a great starting block if you are looking to improve your diet. The population as a whole are on a worrying downwards slope in regards to following a healthy active lifestyle. In the UK 19% of adults, nearly 1 in 5 smoke (OPN, 2014) and the International Diabetes Federation predict that by 2035, 1 in 10 people will be diabetic wordwide! Although there are many factors that can influence your lifestyle and activity, your diet is completely modifiable. Making positive changes and following the set guidelines is a great start to stop these worrying trends and improve your health, quality of life and performance.

So what does Sculpt suggest? Everyone, qualified or not, has an opinion on the best diet to follow. Our thoughts on the subject are as follows;

  • Eat colourful! By eating food that varies in colour you are sure to hit your vitamin and mineral requirements. When cooking vegetables for a meal don’t go all green (such as peas, beans and broccoli), instead look to have each vegetable a different colour (such as peas, carrots and red onion) this can also make your meals more enjoyable to make and interesting!
  • Aim for 8 portions of fruit and veg per day! 5 is a great start but why stop there? Increased intake has been linked to reduced cancer risk, reduced heart disease risk and a reduced risk in premature death. Aiming for 8 can be a challenge, but plan your meals in advance and make snacks for the week that contain extra portions.
  • Eat whole fresh food and try to avoid processed foods! The UK have a whole host of great local markets and farmers and fishermen, lets make use of them. Try to buy your food fresh to reduce the risk of any chemical treatments or nasty surprises. Again, this comes down to planning and writing down what you want to eat for a week or even just a few days in advance will go a long way in improving your diet and resisting the urge to order food or turn on the microwave!
  • If you snack a lot, up your protein intake! Protein is not just for gym goers, it is vital for growth and repair of cells. It is also a great hunger suppressor, more protein will reduce the risk of snacking or feeling hungry between meals.
  • Cook with olive oil when using a high heat! Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and therefore more stable at higher temperatures. There has been a recent trend of using coconut oil for frying food; however, coconut oil is high in saturated fat and will raise both HDL and LDL cholesterol. There has not been enough research into the effect of the cholesterol changes so tread carefully!

Hopefully this has been clear and helped you plan a healthy diet! Remember, these are all guidelines and it will vary from person to person. If you want help with developing your own specific diet get in contact with a member of the SculptLife team today!