Micro vs Macro: What you need to know

Healthy food

We all need macronutrients and micronutrients in our diets. Macronutrients are essential – they give us energy, and they are needed for the growth and maintenance of our body. Macronutrients (or macros for short) are made up of carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Those who are training, have a specific goal or body type may tweak the percentage of each macronutrient in their day-to-day diet. Or look to supplements to increase their protein intake, and therefore muscle growth and repair.

Image of Reflex Ambassador Emil

I usually aim to keep my protein around 2g per kg body weight so at 115kg this is around 230g for me. As I lean down and start to drop body fat I tend to increase my protein intake slightly to preserve muscle and can go to 250g or even 280g per day. As well as maintaining and growing muscle, protein is great for keeping you full when dieting!

Emil Hodzovic, Reflex Ambassador, Doctor and Bodybuilder

 

Given that ‘macro’ is the Greek for large and makes up a high proportion of our diet, it can be easy to focus on them and forget about the small, yet equally important, micronutrients.

With this in mind, we wanted to give a little time to the micronutrients. Here we discuss what they are, why they are in important and where can you get them from.

What are micronutrients?

While macros help our bodies to function in a big way – think general energy, growth and maintenance, micronutrients help the more intricate parts of our body – the workings of our organs, nervous system, cells, joints, ligaments and metabolism to name a few.

They also help with the efficient metabolism of macronutrients, which can maximise all your efforts in the gym. Despite being needed in tiny amounts, micronutrients are essential to our diets.

Where can I get micronutrients from?

Vitamin A

Cheese, eggs, oily fish, liver, milk and yoghurt are some examples of where you can get a good source of vitamin A. You can also eat food with beta-carotene, which your body can change into vitamin A – foods with beta-carotene include yellow, red and leafy green vegetables and yellow fruit like mango or apricots.

B vitamins and folic acid

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Good sources include fresh and dried fruit, eggs, peas, wholegrain breads, some fortified breakfast cereals and liver.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and rice are good sources of vitamin B2, although these foods should be kept out of direct sunlight because UV light can destroy vitamin B2.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Vitamin B3 can be found in meat, fish, wheat flour, eggs and milk.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is present in lots of food – some examples are pork, poultry, fish, wholegrain cereals, eggs, vegetables and milk.

Biotin (Vitamin B7)

Vitamin B7 can be found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. It’s also made by the bacteria that lives naturally in our bowel.

Vitamin B12

This is found in meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals.

Folic acid

Leafy greens like broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, asparagus and peas contain folic acid. It’s also found in chickpeas and fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin C

Oranges are known as being an excellent source of vitamin C. You can also get this vitamin from peppers, strawberries, broccoli and potatoes.

Vitamin D

Sunlight is the primary way of getting vitamin D but you can also get it from red meat, oily fish, liver and egg yolks.

Vitamin E

Nuts, seeds, avocados, wholegrains and plant oils like olive oil are a good source of vitamin E.

Vitamin K

Leafy greens appear again – this time as a source of vitamin K.

Iron

Iron can be found in meat, beans, nuts, wholegrain and kale.

Calcium

Calcium is usually associated with dairy products but this mineral can also be found in leafy greens and nuts.

Magnesium

Again, this mineral can be found in nuts, leafy greens and dairy. Wholegrains and meat are also a good source of magnesium.

Potassium

Famously found in bananas, you can also get potassium from nuts, seeds, pulses, meat and fish.

Zinc

Meat, dairy, bread and cereal products are good sources of zinc.

Selenium

Selenium can be found in meat, fish, eggs, brazil nuts and oats. Also, along with vitamin C and zinc, selenium can be found in our Beauty Bar.

To find more out about the sources of these vitamins and minerals, the recommended amounts and what their functions are, take a look at the NHS guide.

While micronutrients can be found in food, those with vitamin deficiencies, specific dietary requirements or wanting to ensure they’re getting their daily quota may turn to multivitamins. For your vitamin top up, shop Nexgen Pro.

 

What our ambassadors say about supplements

Alex

Reaching a protein goal is tough on purely just food, so supplements are extremely useful. Other than protein, I have range of daily supps such as omega 3, multivitamin and vitamin D. Read more here.

Alex Crockford, Reflex Ambassador and PT

 

Gauri working out

When I can feel a cold coming on, I do like to ensure I top up my vitamins with Nexgen Pro to ensure my body is fully equipped to fight off any nasty bugs! Read more here.

Gauri Chopra, Reflex Ambassador and PT

 

 

The Benefits of Multivitamins and Nexgen

Nexgen Pro

While many of the nutrients we need come from a balanced and varied diet, there are certain factors that mean we don’t always get the goodness we need to be at our full potential. The answer to this can be multivitamins.

Here, we take a look at why we need to supplement our diet with vitamins, considerations when choosing a multivitamin and why our multivitamin Nexgen can benefit your health and wellbeing.

Why do we need to supplement our diet with multivitamins?

The ideal situation would be to eat organic fruit and vegetables, providing a dense array of vitamins and minerals.  The amount we would eat would be directly related to not only our base requirements but we would be optimising our intake relative to our lifestyle and the physical demands that we place ourselves under.

However, the idea of relying on food as being a source of vitamins and minerals is an ever increasingly flawed thought for some very simple reasons.

1. Modern farming cuts down our mineral intake

Since the advent of intensive farming techniques, the land has had to sustain an ‘intensive’ approach.  Even where crop rotation is implemented, the ever increasing demands being placed on the fixed available space has an effect.

This has been documented by research “The Chemical Composition of Foods” (1940-1991 Special Report Number 235) commissioned by the Medical Research Council who reported on the mineral content of 27 vegetables, 17 fruits and 10 cuts of meat in relation to their sodium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, iron and copper content between the years 1940 and 1991.  The results are stark as seen below:

.

Vegetables  

Fruits 

Meats

Sodium

Loss of 49%

Loss of 29%

Loss of 30%

Potassium

Loss of 16%

Loss of 19%

Loss of 16%

Phosphorous

Gain of 9%

Gain of 2%

Loss of 28%

Magnesium

Loss of 24%

Loss of 16%

Loss of 10%

Calcium

Loss of 46%

Loss of 16%

Loss of 41%

Iron

Loss of 27%

Loss of 24%

Loss of 54%

Copper

Loss of 76%

Loss of 20%

Loss of 24%

Zinc

N/A

Loss of 27%

N/A

This study shows that many of the foods that we eat on a daily basis contain less minerals than they used to.

2. The recommended daily allowance is based on the average person

The NRV (nutrient reference value) or RDA (recommended daily allowance), a measure of the ideal intake of a particular nutrient, is based on a panel of average individuals.

It is fair to assume that people who regularly undertake strenuous physical activities are probably more likely to be on the upper limits of the RDA.  Here at Reflex Nutrition, we produce products that often contain ingredients that might exceed the NRV, but the important fact is that we never exceed the recognised Safe Intake level where concerns of toxicity or lack of non-incremental benefit exist.

What to consider when selecting a multivitamin

So, given some of the reasons for supplementing your diet with multivitamins, here’s what you should consider when selecting a multivitamin. Firstly, not all minerals are created the same. For example, there are different forms of minerals and those differences are significant. For example, any oxide form of mineral will be far less capable of being absorbed by the body than a chelated form.

The chelated form relates specifically to the mineral being bonded to an amino acid, which means that it becomes far easier for the body to utilise.  It is also true of other forms of minerals.

So, if you see an oxide form on the ingredient list, remember that your body’s ability to make use of it is very compromised.

Secondly, another consideration is that friendly bacteria (pro-biotic) is only a positive thing if it is allowed to work.  The friendly bacteria that we use are enteric coated which means that the bacteria can pass through the harsh stomach acid environment and reach the intestine intact, where they can start to activate.

What’s the difference between Reflex Nutrition’s Nexgen and Nexgen Pro?

Because we use the chelated form of minerals and enteric coated friendly bacteria, you may have decided that Nexgen is for you. But, which kind?

Broadly speaking Nexgen is intended for most people, whereas the Pro variant is formulated for those people who are undertaking strenuous activities on a regular basis.

Therefore, from an ingredient perspective, Nexgen Pro has higher dosages of many of the ingredients.

Either way, they both make use of the same branded ingredients and the same capsule technology, so if you decide that you want a multivitamin the only decision you need to make is whether you go for Nexgen or Nexgen Pro.

Top tips from the Reflex Ambassadors on getting ready for summer

Alex in Pool

While most of us want to look our best all year round, it becomes more of a focus in the lead up to summer. With this mind, we chat to Reflex Ambassadors and fitness and nutrition experts Emil Hodzovic, Gauri Chopra and Alex Crockford on their summer approach, nutrition and workouts.

As well as being a Reflex Ambassador, Gauri Chopra is also a PT, online coach, fitness model and founder of The London Rooftop Gym. So, she’s in the know when it comes to getting into shape for summer, and her approach is realistic and motivational. Here’s her two key pieces of advice:

Gauri Weightlifting

“Number 1: Give yourself enough time and avoid quick fixes! Quick fixes and going to extremes to lose weight in a short period of time tend to do more harm than good and you’re more likely to pile the weight straight back on after you reach you goal. Especially when dieting. Keep it simple, and be consistent so it is easier to progress on and tweak when needed. Slow and steady wins the race.

Number 2: Have a plan in place. If you have a program set in place, there’s no room to second guess yourself or go in half-heartedly. You’ll be surprised at how such a simple thing can make all the difference. All you have to do is turn up and follow the plan!”

Alex Crockford, another PT who knows his stuff, as shown by the success of his #CrockFit fitness plans, agrees with Gauri: “I think following a plan that you can get consistent with is so important. It keeps you motivated and builds momentum. Without consistency, that summer body is not going to happen!”

Nutrition

Moving onto the right nutrition for those summer bodies, we get the lowdown from medical doctor, fitness coach and Reflex Ambassador, Emil Hodzovic:

“I would recommend taking the basic products regardless of goal and these would include vitamin D, a multivitamin such as Nexgen Pro, Omega 3s or Krill Oil and Creatine.

Then on top of this, it is very useful to have a good quality protein shake. The most important factors when choosing a shake would be protein content and quality and then taste is a close second. When I’m trying to lean down, ideally I want a protein product which tastes good even when mixed with water (to save calories!) and has minimal carbs and fats in it. Instant Whey Pro is pretty good but Micro Whey really is the next level when it comes to good tasting protein.”

So when you’ve got the right protein sorted, when’s best to take it? Alex recommends preparing a shake so when you’re done working out you can have it straight away. Gauri on the other hand doesn’t worry too much about when to consume a protein shake: “I generally like to make a nice protein smoothie when I get home from the gym, or simply make and eat good high protein meal. I tend to have post workout protein shakes when I know I won’t be eating for a while or when I am on the go to help tie me over till I can get a proper meal in.”

There’s no right or wrong answer on when to take a shake as long as you’re having the right amount of protein for your goals. We speak to Emil about how much protein he consumes when he’s looking to lean down:

Emil on holiday

“I usually aim to keep my protein to around 2g per kg body weight so at 115kg this is around 230g for me. As I lean down and start to drop bodyfat I tend to increase my protein intake slightly to preserve muscle and I can go to 250g or even 280g per day. As well as maintaining and growing muscle, protein is great for keeping you full when dieting!”

We also get his thoughts on carb consumption when you’re looking to get leaner:

“When getting lean, it is all about calorie balance. As calories become more limited and protein stays the same or even increases, carbs become more limited as well. This means that you need to be picky with carbs – both in terms of sources of carbohydrates but also when you are eating them.

When dieting hard you want to focus on carbohydrates around training to fuel the session in the most effective way possible. For me this is often a normal meal 3-4 hours prior to working out. I tend to opt for a meal with potatoes or rice. Then an hour before my workout I have a One Stop Xtreme or an Instant Whey Pro shake along with a banana.”

Working out

Of course, our ambassadors don’t rely on nutrition alone to achieve their goals. Gauri tells us about her favourite workouts in the lead up to summer:

“I like to do a combination of Low Intensity Steady State cardio (LISS) and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or anything that gets me moving in a non-conventional way. For LISS, my favourite thing to do is to go on an outdoor walk or hike and aim for a step count. It’s much more enjoyable than walking on a treadmill in my opinion!

For HIIT, I keep it short (10-20mins) and like to either do a circuit consisting of 4-6 exercises repeated 4-6 times, or use a 20 sec on 40 sec off protocol on a cardio machine of choice!”

Alex takes a similar approach: “I am always getting my daily steps or activity done. 10-15k steps at least as an overall low intensity output. But a few times a week I will include tough gym circuits, or bodyweight HIIT, or treadmill HIIT to get the heart rate high and achieve a big calorie burn.”

Emil opts for more structure so he can track his progress and maintain the amount he can lift: “I track my steps and calorie intake and output. The workouts are usually bodybuilding style workouts and I try to hit all of my muscle groups 2-3 times a week. I keep sessions short and sharp at around 45-60 minutes, including warm up, and then try to do my cardio in separate sessions.

Although I will use compound exercises such as squats and bench press as the base of my workouts I will also use a lot of isolation exercises to really hone in on specific muscles.”

A big thank you to Emil, Alex and Gauri for sharing their top tips with us. If you’d like to keep up to date with our Ambassadors you can visit our blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Interview with Alex Crockford on Working Out, Nutrition and Healthy Living

Alex

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of hearing from Alex Crockford – Reflex Ambassador, Personal Trainer and Founder of fitness brand #CrockFit. Here we get the inside knowledge on Alex’s lifestyle when it comes to working out, nutrition and living life the healthy way. 

Hi Alex, let’s start by talking nutrition. Do you have a specific nutrition plan for the week? If so, where do you get your inspiration and how often do you change plans?

Every week is different for me, sometimes I am able to plan, prepare and track my nutrition, whereas other times, if I am travelling or very busy, then I have learnt to stay on track but with a more flexible approach. If I am working towards an important shoot then often I will write down a specific plan and repeat that daily.

Sounds very organised so do you prepare your meals for the week?

Fortunately I have a lifestyle where I can prepare for the day or the next but I rarely plan for further than that. I don’t want to sound basic, but chicken, rice and mixed veg is so easy to prep and it keeps well for the next day!

Do you measure or track your protein requirements?

I usually keep track of my protein intake daily to make sure I am hitting my protein goals. Having tracked this for many years I usually just know how much protein I’m eating a day. I have always aimed for about 1g per 1lb of bodyweight so for me that’s usually around 175-200g.

And, do you have a similar plan for carbohydrates or fibre?

Carbs is something that has more fluctuation in my diet, whereas with protein I always aim to have more rather than less. My fats and carbs go up and down sometimes but fibre and carbs from veg is always a top priority for me. It is easy to just focus on protein, but it is important to always get the fibre in too!

This is a great point and one that is very relevant today given that recent reports say that many people aren’t getting the recommended amount of fibre. Are you aware of how much fibre you need on a daily basis? And how do you make sure that you get this into your diet?

I don’t usually count, track or aim for a particular number but I aim to include vegetables in every main meal and I usually recommend veg being the majority of your plate. Unlimited!

So do you supplement your food intake with any sports nutrition supplements?

Always! The majority of my supplements come in around workout time, such as pre workouts and always a post workout protein shake. Reaching a protein goal is tough on purely just food, so supplements are extremely useful. Other than that I have range of daily supps such as omega 3, multivitamin and vitamin D.

What about when you’re travelling – do you have a go to ‘on-the-go’ snack?

I turn to protein bars, rice cakes, apples. These are things that I look forward to (weird I know!). They’re also dry food and very easy to carry around.

Given your career as a PT and from your answers above, it’s clear you’re a super healthy guy but for you, what does a healthy lifestyle mean and how do you maintain that? Especially when you’re busy or on the go?

Well that’s my whole #CrockFit life that I promote everyday! A healthy lifestyle is one that makes you feel good on the inside and look good on the outside. A life that gives you confidence to walk on the beach, try new things and meet you new people. It means getting excited about your daily exercise whatever that might be, and enjoying the food you eat everyday. Food that fuels your body and your mind for training and living!

Sounds great! Thanks for your time Alex.

If you’d like to follow Alex’s journey and stay up to date with #CrockFit you can follow him on Instagram or visit his website. For more interviews and news from us, check out our blog and keep in the loop by signing up to our newsletter.

 

Welcome The Beauty Bar

The Beauty Bar - All Flavours

We’ve created the Beauty Bar, a delicious, on-the-go snack with zinc, vitamin C and selenium.

The Beauty Bar is available in three delicious flavours:


Grapefruit & Pineapple



    Honey & Ginger



    Mixed Berry

There’s no preservatives, artificial sweeteners or added colourings in the Beauty Bar – simply flavours, all in less than 150 calories per bar.

Where to buy

The Beauty Bars are exclusive to selected Primark stores. Find your local store now:

London

Bromley

Croydon

Ealing

Hammersmith

Kingston
Lakeside
Oxford Street East
Oxford Street West
Romford
Watford
Wood Green

Midlands

Birmingham Fort

Cambridge

Coventry

Hanley

Leicester

Leicester Fosse Park

Nottingham

Northern & Yorkshire

Gateshead Metroctre
Newcastle
Leeds Trinity
Meadowhall
Middlesbrough

North West

Blackpool

Liverpool

Manchester

Scotland

Aberdeen

Braehead

Edinburgh

Glasgow Argyle St

Livingston

South

Basingstoke

Bournemouth

Bristol

Milton Keynes

Portsmouth

Reading Broad Street

Southampton

West Wood Cross

Wales

Cardiff New

The nutritional profile

Nutritional profile per 40 g serving of the Honey & Ginger Beauty Bar:

Typical Values

Per 40g serving

% RI *
Energy

150kcal

Fat

6.1 g

(of which saturates)

3.8 g

Carbohydrate

20 g

(of which sugars)

11 g

Fibre

2.4 g

Protein

4.0 g

Salt

0.05 g

Vitamin C

160mg

200% RI*

Zinc

10mg

100% RI*

Selenium

55 µg

100% RI*

*Reference Intake

Consume as part of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

 

Shoulder mobility: 5 moves to improve your overhead press

Shoulder mobility: 5 moves to improve your overhead press

The shoulder is the most complex joint in the body. However, it is also the most vulnerable. Shoulder mobility is heavily influenced by the surrounding muscles and these muscular imbalances can cause real problems with pressing movements.

In this article, I’m going to explain why this occurs and give you 5 exercises to help correct common shoulder issues.

If you can’t perform the full range of movement, you can’t fully train the muscle. This will be impacting your strength and size gains.

Although resistance training isn’t actually to blame for becoming tight, working muscles in shortened ranges of motion can cause them to become short. Further to that sitting forwards at a desk for long periods of time shortens the pec muscles and weakens the upper back. All a combination of bad posture.

So let’s look at some simple ways we can fix this to help you get more shoulder mobility and improve your pressing.

We need to stretch these shortened muscles and increase the range of movement, but a strong overhead press also requires good scapular movement so we need to make sure that is included in our mobility work.

Most people skip a proper warm up and get right to work, and as much as I applaud your enthusiasm, your shoulders probably don’t.

Here are 5 shoulder mobility movements to incorporate into your upper body warm up:

Scap pulls

Take a shoulder width grip on a bar and allow yourself to dead-hang. Let your shoulder blades separate and your shoulders come up to your ears, then retract your shoulders and lats and pull yourself up, not bending your elbows. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps.

 

Chest Opener - step2Chest opener

Attach a band to a frame at shoulder height or above, take the band in one hand and step forwards. Allowing the hand to rotate upwards with a locked arm you will feel a stretch in the pec and anterior delt. You can also rotate the elbow up and down (but keeping locked) for more of an active stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds or 20 rotations per side.

 

Bully Stretch - step3 - front Bully Stretch - step3 - rearBully stretch

Attach the band overhead and turn your hand behind your back. Keep the band close to you and allow it to pull your arm up your back – like the classic ‘high school bully’. Do not allow your shoulder to roll forwards. By holding this position you will increase your internal rotation. Hold for 15-30s per side.

 

Band Dislocate - step4 - A Band Dislocate - step4 - BBand dislocates

Take a resistance band at both ends and hold out in front of you. Keeping your arm straight, take the band overhead and behind you as far as you can go. Bring the band back over to the front without bending your elbows to stretch the pecs, front delt, and bicep tendon. Perform 10-15, pausing at the top where the muscle is tightest.

 

Shoulder Mobility - step5 - Pull apart BBand pull-apartShoulder Mobility - step5 - Pull apart A

Take a thin band or cables and take your hands out straight in front of you. Retract your shoulder blades together and with palms facing down, extend your arms straight out to your sides. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

DigeZyme Digestive Enzymes and Whey Protein

DigeZyme Digestive Enzymes and Whey Protein

The benefits of whey protein have been researched heavily and include promotion of muscle growth, decreasing blood pressure, aiding recovery from exercise and reducing inflammation, but what happens if we are unable to effectively absorb the protein? Unfortunately modern lifestyle and diet choices mean that our ability to utilize whey protein is sometimes diminished, however there is a simple way to ensure our muscles can optimally use whey to support their repair and growth.

We can measure how well a protein source is absorbed and utilized by the body, we call this it’s biological value (BV). The BV of whey protein is fairly high, up to 104 for a whey isolate formula such as Instant Whey; compare this to the BV of meat 80 and milk 91, we can easily see why whey protein is deemed as one of the best post workout sources of protein. However just because it has a high BV does not mean that 100% of it is absorbed and utilized. This is because digestion of protein is reliant on proper digestive enzymes which are released by the pancreas.

The majority of the protein consumed is digested in the intestines. In order for this digestion to occur the body must be able to break down protein into peptides and then further into amino acids which can be absorbed through the small intestinal wall; and in order for that to happen the body needs enzymes called proteases. These enzymes alongside, lipases which breakdown fat and amylase which breakdown carbohydrates are released by the pancreas.

Once the proteins have been broken down into amino acids they are absorbed into the blood stream where they are circulated to the muscle tissue and other cells. When the amino acids reach the cells they can start repairing and rebuilding the tissue damaged from exercise training to make it stronger and bigger.

However, if the body cannot break down whey protein then it cannot reach the muscles and start the repair process. Symptoms of low levels of digestive enzymes include bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhea.

Although diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis and brush border diseases such as coeliac disease are known causes of decreased digestive enzymes, diet and lifestyle choices also have a huge impact; which is why abdominal complaints are becoming more common.

There are a few potential causes of enzyme deficiency; these include low grade chronic inflammation in the digestive tract- this can be caused by food intolerances, infection or nutrient deficiencies. Chronic stress is probably the most common reason for low enzymes, when our adrenalin is high and we are in “fight or flight” mode. This can be triggered by needing to get to school or work on time, an important meeting, a deadline or just generalized anxiety; the body reduces digestive function, including enzyme output. This is due to fight or flight mode being an essential function in prehistoric times for physical survival – the body would increase adrenaline, increasing the heart pumping and directing the blood away from non-essential organs (such as the digestive system) and towards the legs to keep them running. Ageing can also decrease enzyme production.

In modern life many people may suffer from either a nutrient deficiency, which could impair digestion or chronic stress (which can also impair digestion). This means our digestive enzyme production is low and our ability to absorb amino acids is low; causing a decreased recovery from training, reducing the chance of increasing muscle strength and size.

However, this does not mean supplementing with whey protein is useless, as it is important in the recovery process due to its BV, especially if training twice per day; it simply means we need to supplement with a digestive enzyme to assist the digestion process. Ideally combining a digestive enzyme with whey protein will yield the best results to ensure absorption and maximally support recovery.

When pea meets cookie, you won’t believe the results – Protein Cookies

Protein Cookies in pile - Reflex Nutrition recipe

Putting pea protein into a cookie recipe might surprise some, but we believe that the results are fantastic – Reflex Vanilla Protein Cookies with Chocolate Salted Caramel Stuffing Recipe

How to Effectively Calculate Your Macros

How to Effectively Calculate Your Macros

In this post, the latest member of #TeamReflex, Juggy Sidhu, goes over the macronutrient basics and shows how to calculate your macros according to your personal goals.

 

What are Macronutrients?

 

Macronutrient

Key Facts

Protein

4 calories per gram;
Composed of amino acids (‘essential’, which the body attains through diet and ‘non essential’ which the body can assemble itself);
Used in our body for growth and repair of cells, increasing muscle mass and in enzymes, hormones, antibodies and neurotransmitters;
Aids with satiety, immune function, metabolism, weight management and performance;
Protein has a thermogenic effect and can also liberate fat from stores around the body to be utilised as energy.

Carbohydrates

4 calories per gram;
Carbs can be classified as simple and complex;
Simple carbs are faster to digest and absorb compared to complex carbs;
Carbs are the primary source of energy for your bodies cells.

Fat

9 calories per gram;
Three distinct categories, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated which can be found in unprocessed and wholefoods;
Trans and hydrogenated fats are industrially processed, usually found to preserve foods and increase shelf life of products;
Dietary fat supports metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients;
Improves satiety, body composition, mood and can offer cardiovascular protection.

 

Calculating your Macros

When calculating your macros a good place to start would be to understand exactly how much energy in calories your body would need to maintain at rest- this is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). To create a more accurate figure of your BMR, it would be wise to understand your body composition and body fat percentages. Body fat percentages can be calculated using skin callipers, although these are more likely to be correct if performed by a trained professional.

The Katch McCardle method for working out BMR is:

P = 370 + (21.6 x LBM), where LBM is the lean body mass in kg.

To workout LBM:

LBM= Body Mass in KG x (100 – Bodyfat %) / 100

 

Let’s take a 100kg athlete with 10% body fat.

LBM= 100 x (100-10) / 100

LBM is 90kg.

 

BMR= 370 + (21.6×90)

BMR = 370 + 1944

BMR = 2314 Kcal

 

Now you know your BMR, you need to factor in a few calculations based on your daily activities and of course your training!

 

Average activity multiples

1.2 Sedentary job (desk job and little exercise)

1.3-1.4 Lightly Active (Light daily activity AND light exercise 1-3 days a week)

1.5-1.6 Moderately Active (Moderately daily Activity & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)

1.7-1.8 Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise 6-7 days a week)

In the above example our athlete with a BMR of 2314Kcal has desk job but trains intensely 5-6 days a week.

If our above 100kg athlete works in a sedentary office job (category 1.2) but then trains hard 5 days a week (category 1.8), it would be sensible to put him in a mid range of around 1.5.

 

TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure) = 2314 x 1.5

TDEE= 3702 kcals

 

The TDEE is an estimate of your maintenance calories, which would effectively allow you to retain a constant weight, in order to create a deficit, you can decrease the overall calorie intake, or increase activity levels.

 

Knowing Your Body Type

There are other considerations when working out your preferred macronutrient intake. The following table will outline the characteristics of three body types, ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.  When setting up a nutrition plan, it is important to know your body and understand some key traits that tie into developing an improved physique.  For example, if you are an endomorph, starting at a higher body fat percentage and a slower metabolic rate, you may find it useful to understand that due to impaired insulin response or beta cell dysfunction, your ability to utilise carbohydrates may be significantly lower than an ectomorph.  Having said that, if you are a trained individual, it could be that your carbohydrate tolerance is actually quite good! These tables are approximates only and in no way should be considered the key to success when creating your own nutrition plan, as you will surely realise by now, what works for one person will not necessarily be right for another.

 

Somatotype
Characteristics
Approximate macro % split for each somatotype

Protein        Carbs            Fats

Ectomorphic
• Naturally thin with skinny limbs
• Endurance Exercise
• Fast metabolism
• High sympathetic nervous system activity
• Higher carb tolerance
27.5%
52.5%
20%
Mesomorphic
• Naturally muscular and athletic.
• Bodybuilding/ Strength
• Testosterone and growth hormone dominant
• Moderate to high sympathetic system activity
30%
40%
30%
Endomorphic
• Naturally broad and thick set.
• Strength Exercises/ Powerlifting
• Insulin dominant
• Slow metabolic rate
• Low sympathetic system activity
• Low carbohydrate tolerance
35%
25%
40%

 

 

Our 100kg, 10% body fat example could fall into the mesomophic range.  Therefore to calculate protein, carbs and fats you will calculate the following:

Protein= (3702*0.3) = 1110.6 kcals = 277g protein

Carbs = (3702*0.4) = 1480.8 kcals = 370g carbs

Fats = (3702*0.3) = 1110.6 kcals = 123g fats

If you are unable to categorise your body type clearly, there is another simple approach to working out your macros.  Consuming between the range of 2-2.2g protein per kg and fats at around 1g per kg body would be within normal ranges for an individual that trains.  The rest of the daily calories can be consumed in carbohydrates.

Therefore protein would be 2.2*100= 220g (880kcals)  fats 1×100= 100 (900kcals) and carbs would be set at (3702-1780)= 1922 kcals (480g).

 

Timing and considerations

While cutting, your goal should be to retain a positive nitrogen balance and stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS).  This can be achieved through consuming between 20-30g of high quality sources of protein every 3-4 hours. MPS offers a protective effect against muscle loss, as body fat levels reduce.  By retaining a high level of protein in your diet there will be an increased thermogenic effect (calorie output will increase to digest the protein,) muscle protection and offer greater satiety.

I am a huge advocate of using carbohydrates within your diet, if you are able to utilise them effectively.  Carbohydrates will fuel your sessions, your recovery and also improve your sleep. Carbs have had a bad reputation, because most people tend to either over eat them or tend to consume refined or processed forms, whilst also misunderstanding optimal timing of consumption.  I tend to use slower digesting carbohydrates pre workout or through the day and faster digesting carbs post workout.

For some reason dietary fats got a bad rep, then a great rep and then people thought that it would be better to just replace all carbs with fats.  Nutrition can be a minefield.  Therefore keep it simple, if you have moderate amounts of each macronutrient you will cover all basis for optimal health and function.  I keep a healthy level of fat intake in my diet throughout a cut, as they play a huge role in mood, energy provision, increased insulin sensitivity, fat loss and hormone production.

I always start a cut on around 4 litres of water, which for me is quite easy.  Others struggle to drink plain water, therefore mixing in Reflex Nutrition Amino Fusion can have a great effect on not only hydration, but also providing your body with a constant stream of essential amino acids. Consuming enough water can aid in the blood flow from tissues and improve the ability to oxidise fat on a cellular level.

How to Cheat at the Weekend Without Ruining Your Diet

How to Cheat at the Weekend Without Ruining Your Diet

The weekend can be a challenge as far as dieting is concerned. Our food-loving physique competitor, Tom McDonough, explains how to get through it without feeling guilty and ruining your diet progress.

 

Firstly I hate the phrase ‘cheat meal’… it automatically puts a negative twist on something as simple as eating a meal out with friends or family, and often leads to guilt. Start calling it a ‘free meal,’ a meal off the plan, a meal you can enjoy that you shouldn’t be feeling guilty about. I simply used the term for the article as everyone knows what a cheat meal is.

It’s pretty easy to stick to a diet five days a week. Most of us have a set routine that we can stick to and prepare food for so we adhere to our goals. When it comes to the weekend that’s a whole different ball game where routine goes out the window and we don’t necessarily want to be carrying food while out and about with friends. Hopefully this article will give you a few ideas on how to tackle the weekend diet without leaving you filled with guilt come Monday morning. You will have enjoyed your weekend without suffering.

There are many ways to skin a cat- how strict you want to be will dictate the methods you may choose.
Here’s are a few ways I do things and have successfully done in the past.

First, let’s look at options if you are being pretty strict and have a goal in mind: Simply write out a plan for the two days which include foods you’d like to eat over the weekend that are totally different to your optimal meals. The great thing is, because we are normally busy over the weekend and do not have to get up so early, your normal 5/6 meals that you eat on weekdays can be reduced to 3/4. That gives you a lot more calories to play with for each meal. You can even raise your calories a couple hundred over the weekend (don’t do this if you have someone helping with your diet.)

If you set yourself a plan through out the week heavy in “optimal” foods like the usual chicken and rice, then make a change. You could have pancakes for breakfast or eggs and bacon on toast and then grab yourself a subway for lunch. If you make the right choice even a foot long is only about 600/650 calories. Eat what ever, just make sure it fits your calorie allowance. Make sure that you maintain a good amount of protein within this and let the fats and carbs fall wherever. Eating this way is not perfect but much better than going off the rails and quite easily consuming an extra 2/30 00 calories which could set you back days.

This is obviously hugely dependent on your goals, and individual to each person. Your daily calories may be a lot lower, for example females may not eat 1500 calories and still have 1500 to play with so obviously your meal sizes would need to be reduced. You would need to design this FOR YOU. One plan for food certainly does not fit all but I hope reading this article helps you get the idea.

 

Pro Tips

Method 1- Goal Focused

  • Track your food
  • Write out a plan
  • Pick foods you look forward to eating

Method 2- Lifestyle Focused

  • Track your food
  • Consume less through out the day
  • Leave yourself plenty of calories
  • The day after have a low day
  • Weight session on following day
  • Choose food you enjoy