Following information on nutrition & supplements is simplified for the average trainee. You don’t need to overcomplicate your nutrition with meal plans, macros, and 12 different recommendations for protein intake. This is something for pro bodybuilders and not goal of this website (e.g. that’s why we also don’t base our protein recommendation on fat free mass). We are giving beginner advice how to effortlessly modify your meals.
You don’t need one. Just make sure that most meals that you eat include a protein source (meat, fish, eggs etc.), vegetables and carbs. There are no bad carbs but there are some carbs with more nutrition than others (whole grain vs. plain). There is a trend right now to demonize carbs, but in our opinion cutting out carbs completely (keto diet) is very hard to sustain, so we rather suggest to reduce carbs if needed and eat quality over quantity (mostly whole grain). Still, you can take almost any combination and it will be a good meal. Steak with fried potatoes and fried vegetables? Go for it. Just go easy on the fats if you need to cut calories.
This also means, do not eat ’empty calories’. Every meal should have a good protein source. Do not eat e.g. pasta with ketchup or rice with vegetables on a regular basis. Protein is most important, vegetables are very important and carbs are less important. But carbs can help you to feel full and provide energy when working out. With that being said, a pizza or burger once a week will not make you lose all your progress. If it makes you happy and is one of the reasons why you work out to begin with, then by all means just enjoy it.
The very commercialized fitness industry has made people believe they need absurd amounts of protein to sell more supplements. In general most training individuals need around 0.7g of protein per pound of body weight (1.5g per kg). If you eat 3 good meals a day make sure to include a protein source (meat, fish, eggs etc.) and you will be mostly fine without protein supplementation. For example, even if we take a small average steak of 8oz (227g) served at a restaurant you will get 40-50g of protein.
However, if you want to cut down on calories or if you do intermittent fasting you could replace a meal with a protein shake or protein bar. A good whey protein shake with water provides 20-30g of protein at about 100-150 calories. If you prefer milk shakes be aware one shake could go up to 300-400 calories. A good protein bar can provide 20g of protein at roughly 200 calories (be sure to read the label!).
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Creatine monohydrate is another one of the best researched supplements available. It leads to overall strength increase but also retains more water in the muscle (your weight may go up but you will look more buffed). That’s why it might be a better choice for men than women. You don’t need a ‘loading phase’, just take a steady dose of 3-5g (1 scoop) a day throughout the year. And also, ignore all the marketing around ‘better’ forms than creatine monohydrate. There is no scientific data (yet) to back up any of those claims. Go with the cheap monohydrate.
Another supplement we can recommend is fish oil (omega 3). Most of us simply can’t get enough healthy fats from their meals these days, and the benefits for your heart, liver, skin and weight are well researched. Fish oil supplements are so cheap that we don’t see a reason why you should not include them in your daily routine.
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The problem with most diets is that the vast majority of people cannot maintain it for the long term (lifetime). This is why we like intermittent fasting. You don’t change your meals, but the time window when you eat them. While the numerous advantages are still being debated, one argument is commonly agreed on. If you have less time to eat, then you eat less overall.
The most common starting point is the 16-8 window, meaning 16 hours of fasting (no calorie intake!) followed by 8 hours of eating window. One way to do it could be skipping breakfast (drink more water instead), then start with lunch, have a protein shake 3-4 hours later, then finish your day with a normal dinner. Lunch and dinner are maximum 8 hours apart. And even if you eat slightly more for lunch and dinner, your calorie balance will still be way better off. And the good part, you don’t need to do it every day. Even 3-5 times a week is already of great benefit.
This was our simplified take on nutrition & supplements and the last section of our 60 minute workout. Now, grab a barbell and start lifting!