by Matt Weik
While many are in search of a magic pill to swallow to miraculously transform their physique with a blink of an eye, others are out there grinding it out in the gym. I commend those who are committed and schedule time every day to exercise and make it a priority. Yet, the one thing many fail to realize is that exercise is simply one piece of the equation. And when you’re looking at the overall percentage when it comes to achieving results, you’ll notice that exercise is actually a small portion. What ultimately makes up the bulk of your results is proper nutrition.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t out-train a poor diet.” And that’s 100% the truth. If you spend hours every day in the gym and burn hundreds of calories but find yourself consuming fast food several times a week, yielding in meals that are 1,000+ calories, your net will result in a caloric surplus – causing you to gain weight.
Now, I know that is crushing for some to hear, but you’re after results, right? And the last thing you want to do is keep spinning your wheels only to find you’re not progressing. So, let’s discuss the catalyst when it comes to seeing results – proper nutrition.
Calories IN / Calories OUT
The first thing we should get out of the way is the understanding that you have a caloric maintenance number that keeps your weight steady (it doesn’t go up, and it doesn’t go down). For the sake of ease, let’s say that number is 2,000 calories. If you consume more, you’re in a caloric surplus. If you consume less, you’re in a caloric deficit.
Based on what your goal is, you will want to do one of three things: consume your maintenance number, consume less than your maintenance number, or consume more than your maintenance number.
If you consume your maintenance number, your weight will stay the same. Therefore, if you’re happy with your current weight and simply want to maintain it, aim to hit your individual maintenance calories. If you are looking to lose weight, you will want to consume less than your maintenance calories. If you are looking to bulk and put on lean muscle mass, aim to consume more than your maintenance calories.
Understanding Proper Nutrition to Achieve Results
When it comes to proper nutrition and achieving results, you are going to want to be strategic. For the sake of this article, we are going to skip over maintaining your weight simply because hitting your maintenance number is precisely just that. When you want to lose weight or gain muscle is where the tricky part comes into play.
If you are looking to lose weight, the best place to start is by lowering your calories by 250 per day from your maintenance (so you would be taking in 1,750 calories per day). At the end of a week (7 days), that will yield you a net loss of 1,750 total calories. There are 3,500 calories that make up one pound. Therefore, you would theoretically lose 0.5 pounds a week.
If you wanted to bump that up to one pound per week, simply reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 to yield a 3,500-calorie deficit by the end of the week. Proper nutrition is extremely important for weight loss as it comes down to a numbers game. Hit your numbers, and the results should follow.
Note – you should strive to lose no more than 2 pounds of weight each week. Anything more, and you risk not only doing harm to your metabolism and health, but you also risk losing muscle mass which is needed to keep your metabolism revving.
If putting on quality lean muscle mass is your goal, being in a caloric surplus is the name of the game. However, this doesn’t allow you to open up the floodgates and consume whatever you want. You still need to follow proper nutrition to see the results you desire.
Far too many people think it means they can eat whatever they want, and what that results in is putting on unwanted body fat rather than quality lean muscle mass (this is called a “dirty bulk). Through proper nutrition and being strategic with the food you consume, you can minimize the fat gain to achieve a “clean bulk.”
Similar to how you would manipulate your caloric intake for weight loss, you would do the inverse to put on size. Start off increasing your daily caloric intake by 250 calories. This would put you around a 0.5-pound increase in weight by the end of a full week. The goal should be slow and steady if you want to add muscle while still keeping your body fat in check.
Regardless of your goal, utilizing an app like MyFitnessPal is a great way to ensure you are hitting not only your calories for the day but also your macronutrients. The app makes it extremely simple to check your progress and even allows you to track your weight to see how you’re progressing towards your goal.
Putting it All Together
When results are what you are after, combining a solid exercise program with proper nutrition can yield you incredible results. But the thing you need to understand first and foremost is that proper nutrition should always be your number one priority regardless of the goal you are looking to achieve. Results start and end with nutrition and the food you consume daily.