Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
There’s so much noise nowadays on Google Education, Instagram Fitness and YouTube Tutorials that it’s easy to get distracted and caught up in the noise of what truly matters most.
If you’re someone who feels overwhelmed at times because of information overload and don’t know where to possibly start or what to focus on, I’m here to tell you that I completely understand you.
When I was 21/22, I used to feel exactly the same way. I would read on one forum that if you wanted to get leaner, you shouldn’t eat carbs because they make you fat! The same exact day on another post, someone would say the complete opposite – carbs give you energy and your body needs them to function optimally.
Needless to say, I felt confused and I didn’t know what to believe! This ultimately resulted in me doing absolutely nothing – which is often the case when we feel overwhelmed.
Thankfully, since then, I’ve been able to put on blinkers and come to understand all the things that matter most. In no particular order, the things that matter most are as follows:
Your overall daily caloric intake is the foundation for you to get the results you desire regardless of what diet you follow. Whether that’s paleo, ketogenic, vegan, balanced macros or flexible dieting (which I’m a big fan of) – the amount of calories you consume on a daily basis following one of these diets is the most important factor to determine whether or not you:
How do you know how many calories you should be eating? Checkout a blog post I wrote where I describe how.
Calories in vs calories out is literally the most important determining factor to doing the three things named above. If you’re someone who’s unsure why you’re not losing weight, my advice would be to actually monitor and track your calorie intake so you have a rough idea of what your daily intake is. Most people overestimate how many calories they burn and underestimate the amount of calories they eat.
What’s the best diet? The one you stick to long term which get you the results your desire. The best diet or nutrition plan on paper is no good if you cannot adhere to it. Find what works best for you and stick to it.
There are three main macro-nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Macro means many meaning you need to eat these nutrients in large amounts. The percentage you eat them in will vary person to person but the most important one of all is your overall protein intake.
Why? Protein acts as the building blocks for your muscles and bones. Having a high protein intake will help you significantly with recovering faster and building muscle. I would recommend you aim to eat approx. 2g of protein per Kg of bodyweight. E.g. if you weigh 75Kg x2 = 150g of protein a day.
Sources of protein include chicken, turkey, lean beef, lean pork, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt along with some plant based options of beans, lentils, tofu and edamame.
Food quality effectively refers to foods which are nutrient dense. When I say nutrient dense, I mean foods which provide you with a lot of vitamins or minerals.
To make this easy to understand, let me ask you a question – have you ever eaten 4 apples in a row? I’m assuming you haven’t (forgive me if I’m wrong!). Now let me ask you another question – have you ever eaten 4 slices of bread or pizza or 4 donuts or cookies in a row? I’m assuming you have (again forgive me if I’m wrong!).
Now if you analyse these foods – say the apple vs the slice of bread, how come we don’t find it nearly as difficult to have four slices of bread as we do to eat four apples in a row? When you breakdown the calorie count, an apple has 80 calories yet the average slice of bread has about 100 calories. So why is it easier to eat more bread than apples?
Because apples are much more nutrient dense. They may not have as many calories put are packed with lots of minerals and vitamins. And these are the foods we should aim to eat 80-90% of the time – foods that are high in nutrients yet low in calories.
Does this mean that bread is ‘bad for you?’ No – in fact categorising foods as good and bad is not a good idea. Foods don’t have morals as if you put them under the broad category of good vs bad, you will soon find yourself developing a bad relationship with food and feel guilty when you do eat these ‘bad foods.’
A better way of categorising foods is as being ‘high calorie or low calorie’ or ‘high nutrient vs low nutrient.’ This way, no foods are out of bounds yet you have a better understanding of what each food provides your body.
It goes without saying that strength training is fundamental for you to get to your final destination. Chances are, if you’re reading this you probably want to do one of three things:
In order to do those three things, strength training is essential. Why? Because in the context of building muscle or ‘toning up’ – what is it that gives your body that ‘shape and tone’ you desire? No – it’s not your bones! It’s your muscles. And how do you build muscle? By strength training/lifting weights. The optimal number of days a week varies from person to person based on lifestyle, readiness, willingness and being able to do it. In general however, 3-4x a week works well to reach your end goal.
In the context of improving sports performance – most people want to develop more speed. In order to develop speed, you need to be able to display optimal power. What is power? Power is Strength X Speed. i.e. your ability to display your strength quickly! In order to do this, you need to have a baseline level of strength! We all know the promising minor who is fast on his/her feet and looks like they’re running 100 miles an hour yet when he/she jumps to the senior grade, it is not their speed that’s lacking, it is their strength/power levels. Strength training is the baseline to sports performance training.
I can’t stress how important sleep is for both fat loss and muscle gain, especially when you’re in workout mode. Your body, your workouts, and your goals will suffer because of a lack of quality sleep. After a poor night’s sleep, Ghrelin (the hormone that tells you you’re hungry) and Leptin (the hormone that tells you you’re full) go in opposite directions. Basically, lack of sleep makes you want to eat more but you don’t become as full. People tend to eat at least 300 extra calories a day when sleep deprived which adds up to over 15lbs per year. Furthermore, if you’re not getting enough sleep, 70% of the weight you’ll lose will come from lean body mass (your muscle).
Have trouble falling asleep early? Form a sleep ritual. That means two hours before you want to go to bed, dim the lights. 1 hour before bed, unplug from all electronics (I also find this very difficult!). Try not to eat 2-3 hours before bed, or drink 1-2 hours before bed. If possible, go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Replace the TV with some light reading. And make your room a bat cave (block out all lights). If you’re still having trouble – try supplementing with Melatonin & Magensium and/or drinking Chamomile tea before bed.
Hydration and water intake is often an area that’s neglected. If you dehydrated by as little as 3%, it can impact your performance by up to 20%! If you’re thirsty, it’s already too late! Try to carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go. A good daily target to aim for is 40-50ml of water per Kg of weight. So for somebody who weighs 70Kg, that would be 2.8-3.5 litres of water a day. Two tips:
What The Internet Tells You
I would confidently say up to 80-90% of your desired results would be achieved from adhering to the above principles and guidelines. Yet, the last 10-20% (below) is what gets most broadcast on the internet:
Why do we always try and complicate things? The reality is all of the above can help you go the last mile but you should only focus on these after you’ve nailed all the principles and guidelines. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take supplements or your total carbohydrate intake doesn’t matter. But I am saying these are only important after you have taken ownership of the six main principles.
‘As to methods there are many, but principles few. The person who can grasp the principles can choose their own methods.’
Ketogenic, paleo, atkins, high/low carb, upper/lower, push/pull/legs, full body workouts etc. are all different methods of dieting/training. But if you can adhere to the above six principles, you can choose which method best suits your own lifestyle and schedule. To recap, the six main principles are:
Nutrition in particular is the most common area some of my clients initially struggle with. They often feel overwhelmed and are unsure of where to start. But once they get a good grasp of the six principles, eliminate all the noise on Google and Instagram education, they feel much more assured and no longer doubt themselves. Often, we know what we need to do, we just need some reassurance and guidance we’re on the right path and doing the right things.
If you need this reassurance and guidance in your life, someone to hold you accountable and to help you get out of a routine which doesn’t serve you and into one that does, then contact me today and I’d love to help you. After you fill out your consultation form, we'll schedule a call and deep dive into your health and exercise history and talk through what goals you have for 2020/2021.
You're just one click away from becoming a success story.
Adrian McDonnell -
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