Welcome to Smithstrong Wellness Coaching Services!
This is probably going to be a bit overwhelming for you because of the amount of information that you're about to digest. Don't get nervous--just take it step-by-step, and I'm here to answer all of your questions. If I haven't already provided you with your macro guidelines, you will be receiving them shortly.
First, when I'm building your macro profile, I primarily follow the philosophy of a program called Eat To Perform. This program is a very well-known name among the fitness community, and from my own experience both using it in my own life and helping others to learn how to incorporate the philosophy into their own lives, it is a very flexible, sustainable, realistic approach to eating.
You don't need any special foods. You don't need any pills, and there are no gimmicks. You eat food (preferably the 'realest' food that you can get your hands on), and you eat it within set "macro" guidelines. The macros that we'll be focusing on are Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat.
Your success is going to be based upon you doing the following things:
1) If you don't already have an account with My Fitness Pal, you'll need to sign up for one (more information below). With that said, you'll need to log your food on My Fitness Pal every single time you eat. Every time! You can download an app for your iPhone or Android, and you can also access MFP via the web. After signing up, you'll need to set your diary to the public setting so that I can view it (this can be done in your diary settings). You may also want to change various meal titles (you can use my log as an example to see what I mean. Here are instructions on how to do both of these things:
To change your diary to public:
Go to Settings
Scroll down to Diary Sharing
Changing your meal titles
It's extremely helpful if you change the titles of your meals from the generic ones MFP provides to include at least pre- and post-workout. Even better if you can roughly title all your meal in the order you eat them. To make these changes:
Go to Settings
Scroll down to Meal Names
Add in titles of your meals
2) Pay attention to how much of each food you're eating. Even if you eat more than one serving (as deemed by the servicing size on the package), it is imperative that you know and log how much you actually ate. So, if you aren't familiar with what 4 ounces of chicken breast looks like, go ahead and buy yourself an inexpensive food scale so that you can learn. Likewise, if you feel like you need to use measuring cups for your foods, this is the most accurate way to know what you're eating, especially if you're going to be doing an 8-week PFFL.
3) For those who are new to ETP, you may be shocked by how many calories I'm suggesting you should eat. You may need to slowly build up your calories over a few weeks in order to meet your goals. Regardless of how MANY calories you're eating (even if you're extra hungry and you go over your max calorie goal), you need to always be cognizant of your suggested macro profile (you'll hear me call this your "percentages") at all times. You can access your "percentages" via the "nutrition" button on your MFP app. Although I don't want you going greatly above or below your calorie goals, your macro profile takes priority.
4) Please understand one very important factor: This is not a calorie-reduced "diet". This plan will teach you what your body needs in order to burn fat and build muscle. You can eat this way for the rest of your life. No more crash diets.
5) If you're jumping in with both feet for an 8-week PFFL without first doing ETP with me for at least 12 weeks, your body mayneed a week or two to adjust, so you may not see the immediate results that you want to see. However, patience is key! I'll be there every step of the way, and we'll adjust your macros if needed during the PFFL.
6) Before you continue reading, click through to head over and join our #slack group. This is a great place where I post tons of resources to help you on your journey.
Here is some additional (more detailed) information, including some of the 'nitty-gritty' details that you can focus more on after you have been following the program for several months:
When to eat your starchy carbs:
You want to focus your starchy carbs around your workout and then save the rest for dinner and after. For pre- and post-workout, you want about a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. Pre-workout (about 1-1.5 hrs before) have about 50 g slow-digesting carbs with 25 g protein. Post-workout have about 50 g fast-digesting carbs with about 25 g protein - keep fat to less than 10 g in this meal or it will slow digestion which is not optimal PWO, your muscles are like a carb sponge at this time and you want to get the carbs in as quickly as possible to replenish glycogen.
Eat the rest of your starchy carbs with dinner and after. The rest of the day have fats, non-starchy veggies, protein. This will keep you in fat-burning mode and using the starchy carbs when your body is most efficient at using them rather than storing them as fat. With dinner, your carbs can be either fast- or slow-digesting. Pre-bed, they should be fast-digesting and you want less than 10g fat in this meal.
Some people find they need to have some carbs in their earlier meals either for satiety or energy purposes, or because it's difficult to eat such a large number of carbs in the evening. If you do this, I suggest they be slow-digesting to avoid a crash. Remember that getting the macros in your mouth is of primary importance, timing is secondary.
How to handle early morning or long workouts:
For early morning workouts (generally starting before 9am), you can go into them without eating. Just make sure you have had a good amount of carbs with dinner and/or pre-bed the night before as suggested above. This will fuel those early workouts, but don't think of your pre-bed snack as needing to follow the "rules" of a pre-workout meal. Even if you are using your pre-bed snack as fuel for a morning workout, it should be fast-digesting and you do not have to pair it with protein.
What are starchy carbs:
You want the majority of carbs to come from starchy sources. These are non-fibrous glucose sources. Eat your green veggies but keep fiber under 35g to ensure you are getting enough carbs from starchy sources. Fruit is on the starchy carb list and is great to have as a snack, but with the exception of ripe bananas and dates, you do not want to use fruit as a pre- or post-workout fuel source. Fruit is fructose, which is processed by the liver. We want glucose at these times, which is utilized by the muscles. Here is one of my favorite charts, which shows fast and slow digesting foods (high glycemic index = fast (starchy), low glycemic index = slow):
How to eat on rest days - time to burn some fat:
On rest days, you drop carbs to give yourself a calorie deficit to burn fat. You will still want to eat the majority of your starchy carbs with dinner and after, and most of your carbs should be starchy. For fat loss, 3-4 rest days is optimal. Think of your workout days as building days where you need to fuel your body to build lean mass, and your rest days as fat burning days where you eat at a deficit to let your body use fat as fuel. You can make rest days active by doing some low-intensity cardio like walking, an easy bike ride, or yoga for about 45 minutes. Keeping it low intensity will give you extra calorie burn without needing extra fuel.
Lastly...this one is very important!
Keep in mind this is a slow process. Most see improved workout (and overall life) performance immediately, but even this can require a little adjustment from your body. Many don't see body transformation for awhile until their body is regulated and metabolism kicks in. While it is a slow process, it is sustainable and way more fun than starving yourself! Patience and consistency are key with this process. Let your body become regulated while being consistent with your macros and you will be happy with the sustainable results.
I'm so happy to have you on board, and I look forward to being part of your journey!