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Adherence – WHATS YOUR WHY?

Dedication vs Motivation

 

Adherence to any program or plan is the number 1 factor that will determine success to reach a particular goal or failure where you quit prior to achieving it or even getting close to it.

 

Don’t make excuses find solutions!

 

In any pursuit of getting to a certain goal consistency is king, if you are not consistently putting in the effort for the most amount of the time you will be taking 1 step forward and 3 steps back rather than the opposite.

 

Motivation will fail you, when emotions get in the way when your not in a good mood, your stressed sad, overwhelmed. Motivation will seize you’ll quit or have a day off that turns into a weeks to a month off.

 

Dedication is something that you will do regardless of your circumstances, regardless if your stressed, tired, overwhelmed and regardless if your not in a good emotional state. You’ll always find a way regardless of the situation.

 

If your just motivated you will find any little excuse to stop yourself from doing the things that you need to do. When we are dedicated we will find a solution you’ll adapt to get what you need get done to progress.

 

That’s why it’s important to identify your Why, your why is an emotional thing which can change and progress or can remain the same through the course of your journey.

 

It’s really important that we really think about this and put some focus into it as we can use it to remain dedicated when things will get in the way of our progress and progression and having that awareness as we navigate through our journey on how it may change or progress.

 

Be attached to your why, write it down put it on your notes in your phone and review it periodically. When your making excuses to yourself read it out 10 times and you will see how your focus /mindset will change.

 

We have to set our self’s up for success we are living in a more stressful environment at present and each individuals allostatic load is much higher which means we are required to acknowledge all of these things that may happen along the way over the course of the month and year and say to yourself your reactions to these stimuli that may raise your emotions will be X or Y. For example I will not drink a bottle of wine when X happens at work. I will do a workout and do 10 mins of deep breathing and meditation, or I will book myself a massage so I can release the tension from my body. Often times it’s not the stimulus but our reaction to the stimulus how we perceive it and react to it.

 

Let’s look at examples of what someone’s WHY may look like?

 

  • I want to be fit and healthy for when I have children.
  • I want to be able to keep up with my Grandchildren.
  • want to be a good role model to my children so they can see me focusing on good habits toward my health eating good foods and exercising regularly.
  • I want to be mobile and active when I reach and elderly age.
  • I like to look good for my husband/wife/partner and myself.
  • I want to look good for my clients so they believe in what I advise them to do (as a coach you are your own business card).
  • I like feel good cognitively which by creating healthier lifestyle habits allows me to feel this way. (exercises has a positive impact on mental health).
  • I want to be healthy enough to continue to do the hobbies/sports I love.

 

Make note of yours, focus and review it regularly, use it as your fuel to keep your dedicated on becoming the healthiest and strongest version of yourself.

 

A good physique, health and vitality is created by consistent habits that will require a consistent dedicated approach. As coaches and personal trainers we help individuals navigate through this process and keep you accountable to your WHY!

 

 

Staying on track over Christmas

With Christmas only 6 weeks away, celebrations are fast approaching. Most people will spend their time going out more and enjoying themselves and as Christmas only comes around once every year it’s important we all enjoy ourselves. However, the last thing people will want to do is to undo the hard work they have done in the gym and leave themselves with an uphill battle to climb when January comes around. Therefore, this article will go into ways in which you can still derive all the enjoyment from Christmas festivities, without derailing the progress you have made towards your fitness goals.

 

Firstly, you need to establish the mind-set you are going to adopt. Broadly speaking, there’s three to choose from. Firstly, there’s the athlete’s mind-set whereby you don’t derail from your diet or training regime at all. On paper, this is the best approach everyone. However, in practicality, the majority of people will not be able to adopt this approach because of the increased amount of socialising that Christmas brings which limits time being spent in the gym, as well as not having access to the foods on their meal plan.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, many will choose to completely drop fitness as a priority and choose to enjoy themselves by any means necessary. Although this is the more fun approach in the moment, it can leave people feeling really down about losing their way when January come around.

 

The third approach, is to enjoy yourself whilst making small adjustments to your Christmas plans in order to not regress over the next couple of months. What this approach looks like will differ between individual’s due to the varying levels of sacrifice people are willing to make in order to stay in shape over Christmas. Below we will discuss ways in which you can alter your plans to suit your fitness goals. The extent to which you apply these to your lives will be dependent on the amount of sacrifice you see as sustainable and enjoyable for yourself.

 

The first alteration we can make is with nutrition. With many people indulging in high calorie, low nutrient based foods over Christmas, the first thing you should have in mind is to still prioritise protein in each meal. This will help you maintain muscle mass, as well as making you feel full, to help prevent overeating on that box of Celebrations lying around. What this looks like in practice is sorting the protein source in each meal out first. For example, when Christmas dinner comes, fill half your plate with a portion of turkey leaving less space to fill up on the extras such as roast potatoes, stuffing and Yorkshire pudding. This ensures adequate protein is being taken in, whilst still being able to enjoy the other parts of Christmas dinner with less chance of over consumption due to less space on the plate.

 

Next, we can opt for lower calorie options of certain foods and drinks. For this we need to identify the calorie dense items of food and drink and make switches which you are happy to settle for. For example, you may find yourself going out drinking more over the Christmas period. A typical alcoholic drink for winter is Bailey’s and the number of calories in a 250ml glass of this is 437kcal. This is over 4 times the number of calories found in a single gin and tonic (96kcal). Although this is an extreme comparison, even consuming 100-200kcal less with each drink can be the deciding factor on keeping your calories near maintenance when having multiple drinks in one sitting. The same can be done for food. If you wish to indulge in ice cream as a Christmas treat, 460ml of Haagen Dazs salted caramel is 1309kcal whereas Halo salted caramel of the same size works is just 320kcal, a 1000kcal saving on snacks which are essentially identical.

 

Planning ahead with your training is also going to be key. It’s normal to not be able to maintain 3+ sessions a week if you are travelling and with family in other parts of the country. However, training a muscle group just 5 working sets per week will maintain the size of the muscle for an extended period of time. Therefore, if you can find it in your schedule to fit this in, then that is going to go a long way in terms of maintaining your progress and prevent the consequences of ceasing to train altogether such as losses in muscle mass and strength.

 

Finally, many of us will cease work for 1-2 weeks over Christmas. Therefore, planning to use some of this added time with physical activity with family can significantly help increase one’s energy expenditure for the day. For instance, choosing to go out on a long walk in the countryside during the day instead of sitting down inside is a hugely positive action to take. This will also make it a lot easier to transition back into regular training, should you have to stop training due to travelling or other social events over the festive period.

 

In conclusion, I hope that the several lifestyle tweaks discussed in this article have given insight into how small changes can produce big results in ensuring that you start January in a really good place with your fitness whilst still being able to enjoy Christmas the way you want to. If you are hiring a personal trainer it might be worth sitting down together to plan your Christmas strategy so you can hit the ground running come January.

Short vs Long rest periods for Muscle Growth

Reference: Schoenfield et. al. (2016) Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance Trained Men.

 

Information on the study:

 

  • Trainees with at least 6 months resistance training experience were split into 2 groups

 

  • Both groups performed 7 compound lifts, for 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 3x per week, for 8 weeks

 

  • 1 group rested for 1 minute between sets, while the other rested for 3 minutes between sets

 

 

  • It was found that the longer rest group saw superior gains in all muscle groups when compared to the shorter rest group.

 

  • This supports the idea that longer rest periods are superior for hypertrophy

 

 

Application to real world:

  • With longer rest periods come longer overall sessions durations, unless you cut overall volume.
  • Overall volume has been shown to be a significant factor in muscle hypertrophy
  • Therefore, it may be worth only applying these long rest periods if you have the extra time free in your schedule to allow you to do so.

Is scale weight an accurate way to track progress?

When people embark on a fitness journey, whether that be to lose body fat or gain muscle mass, the common tool to track their progress people use is how much the number on the scales changes over time. However, is this the most accurate way to track progress towards body composition goals? Just like most questions relating to health and fitness, the answer is- it depends.

 

The first thing to remember is that scale weight is the total weight of all the tissues in your body and not just muscle and fat. Therefore, it is not the most accurate measurement when it comes to measuring body composition. Other methods include skin fold callipers, a cheap tool which measures body fat percentage. However, despite its low cost, the skill needed to take an accurate measurement makes this a fairly inaccessible method of measuring body composition. The gold standard of body composition measurement in a DEXA Scanner. Although, this is a very expensive piece of equipment, only really seen in medical facilities due to its use in also identifying bone density and helping diagnose patients with osteoporosis. Due to other methods being inaccessible, scales are by far the most common tool used by the general population to assess progress in their body composition goals, so what can be done to ensure you are getting the most reliable and accurate changes to body fat and muscle as you can with scales?

 

Any tool is only effective when you know how to use it and scales are no different. Weighing yourself on Monday at 7am and then again on Sunday at 8pm will not give an accurate measurement for how your weight has changed over the course of the week, due to factors that will be discussed in this article. Therefore, if you are to use scales accurately, I would recommend taking daily measurements, first thing in the morning each day and then calculating the mean average each week and compare each week’s average from the last, to get a more accurate measurement of how much your weight is changing due to changes to fat or muscle tissue.

 

So, what factors can influence the weight on the scales besides from muscle and fat tissue? Firstly, there’s water retention. The amount of water our bodies hold will hold will change throughout the day, as well as day by day. Reasons for this include carbohydrate and sodium intake, which cause our bodies to hold more water- not add on fat tissue (a common misconception in, the case of carbohydrates, spread by the misinformed and keto zealots). Therefore, if your diet is more heavily carbohydrate based for a few days, then you may add some weight. However, this will be due to the added water retention from an increased intake of carbohydrates, not an added amount of fat tissue.

 

Next, there’s the amount of food you are currently digesting. First thing in the morning, is when you have the least food in your digestive system as it will have been 9-10 hours since your last meal. Therefore, food being digested cannot influence your scale weight, unlike if you weighed yourself shortly after a meal.

 

Besides from keeping these variables at bay, what else can be done to improve the reliability and accuracy of scales measuring body composition? Firstly, you could also use a measuring tape and measure your Hip to Waist Ratio. This is productive because most people hold the majority of fat around their Waist area. Therefore, if you are trying to gain muscle mass and you put yourself in a calorie surplus and put on weight, you may believe you are getting closer to your goal. However, if you take measurements are realise your Waist measurement is increasing at a faster rate than your Hips, then this indicates you are putting on fat faster than muscle mass. This information can then lead to you making productive changes to your training and/or nutrition.

 

Next, it’s important to ensure you are setting yourself up for success. One way to do this is to ensure you are consuming enough protein and tracking it. Ensuring adequate protein intake with a suitable resistance training programme and sleep will ensure that any weight loss will not be due to loss of muscle mass. Alternatively, when gaining muscle, will ensure you are adding as much muscle mass as you can in the calorie surplus you are in.

 

In conclusion, scales are far from perfect when it comes to measuring body composition goals. However, with the correct information, it can be a very useful tool to help you stay on track when pursuing your goals.

 

How often should you change exercises?

The Study:

‘Kassiano et. al. (2022) Does Varying Resistance Exercises Promote Superior Muscle Hypertrophy And Strength Gains? A systemic review J Strength Cond Res.

 

What is the study is about?

 

It’s a review that tries to find evidence for how often exercises should change in an exercise programme in order to maximise results.

 

Results of the study:

 

  • Changing exercises too frequently seems to be less effective for muscle growth compared to sticking with the same exercises for an extended period of time.

 

  • Furthermore, there’s evidence supporting that less frequent exercise variation may promote greater long term muscle growth as a result of differences in regional hypertrophy

 

  • However, each exercise stresses specific ranges of a muscle. Therefore it might be beneficial to switch exercises every so often.

 

  • The general recommendation for how often you should change exercises looks to be in the region of every 4-6 weeks. Certain factors may change this though, such as enjoyment of a programme, linked to adherence.

 

Application to clients:

 

  • My recommendation would be to generally follow these guidelines with the exception of a couple of reasons: Firstly, if the client gets bored of certain exercises. Secondly, if the clients goals change. But if your goal is to become better at certain lifts then its likely that you will require those lifts throughout your macrocycle.

 

Principles of Training – Individualisation

Each and every one of us is physically and mentally different. This is why, when it comes to training, everyone’s approach needs to be bespoke to them, if it’s going to be optimal.

 

One of these factors will be their starting point, in terms of ability, in their fitness journey. For example, if two people come to a personal trainer saying they wish to build better whole-body strength, then both will be assessed to see where their starting point is at. If it becomes clear one athlete has a proportionately stronger upper body than their lower body, and the other person vice versa then despite the same goal, their programmes will look different. The first person will need a more lower body focussed approach whereas the other person would need the opposite, this is an example of applying the principle of individualisation.

 

Another key factor to consider is lifestyle variations. Everyone has a life outside of the gym, all of which will include factors which influence their performance inside the gym. Therefore, this needs to be considered when programming. To give another example, imagine someone wants to become generally fitter all round. If they’re a labourer then you need to consider that their job is very taxing, therefore workload needs to be managed more carefully as to avoid overtraining and injury.

 

 

Next, there’s anatomical variants between each individual which can affect performance in the gym. For example, someone with a larger rib cage convexity, steeper sternum angle and short limbs is going to have a better chance at being better at the Bench Press compared to someone with a smaller ribcage, flatter sternum angle and long limbs, due to the first person having a shorter range of motion to achieve a full repetition and the line of pull on the pecs from insertion to origin. Another way in which anatomical differences influence training, can be down to active range. Everyone’s active range for a given movement is different. A common example would be overhead mobility. If someone cannot lift their hands directly above their heads (180 degrees of shoulder flexion) then trying to perform an overhead press is going to take them out of their active range and they will lean back to achieve the overhead position. This person will be putting a lot of stress on joint structures outside of this range and also increase the risk of injury when lifting outside of it. Therefore, consider this individual difference and give them an exercise that challenges them in their active range, for instance an incline press, set to a height whereby they are working in the active range that they can achieve.

 

Next, there’s two factors that link together. These are tolerance to training loads and responsiveness to training load. One’s tolerance to training load is going to help you in the initial phase of deciding things like how frequently they should train and how demanding each session should be. Their responsiveness to training will link closely with progressive overload. So, someone who responds very quickly to training will need to increase their training load more frequently than a slow responder. It’s important however that progressive overload is applied correctly to both people to prevent any from overtraining or undertraining.

 

Finally, the psychology behind training must also be taken into consideration. As with most things, intrinsic motivation is the key to long term adherence and this is achieved when someone feels competent, so the training programme must not feel too difficult for the participant. They also need relatedness, this comes from good relationships attached with the activity. Therefore, having great rapport with your PT, or attending the gym with a friend is a great idea. It’s also a reason why exercise groups with a more ‘community feel’ are more popular, the biggest example of this being the rapid growth of CrossFit over the past 10-15 years. Also, the participant must feel like they have autonomy, this can come via a number of ways such as having the freedom to train when they want, as well as being able to have a say in what they do during sessions (if they want that).

 

Overall, there’s many factors here to consider, it’s important to manage them all carefully, in order to ensure you are getting the most out of your training.

Principles of Training: Reversibility

The principles of training are factors that should be applied to any training programme to ensure optimal adaptations. These principles include: Progressive Overload, Reversibility, Specificity, Individualisation and Periodization. To delve deeper into each of these, I will be writing an in-depth article on each, with this one discussing Reversibility.

 

It’s at this time of year where the majority of people go on their holiday and take a break from everything in life, including training. Alternatively, many people may have to cease training due to other reasons such as work and family commitments or injury. Depending on the amount of time taken off, one can experience reversibility.

 

Reversibility can be defined as the loss of fitness and/or performance adaptations via the withdrawal of tissue loading (which we get from training). Each adaptation takes a different amount of time to fade. For example, aerobic capacity and muscle elasticity have been shown to decrease after just 5 days of inactivity. However, strength has been shown to only decrease by 10% after 8 weeks without training. It’s important to note that other factors will also play a significant role in how quickly an adaptation is lost when training is stopped. These include the individual’s genetics, as well as nutrition. For example, if two bodybuilders were to stop training and one continued to consume a high protein diet and maintenance calories and the other who consumed inadequate amount of protein and ate below their maintenance calories, the latter is expected to experience a greater degree of reversibility.

 

Once someone experiences this, upon their return to training they are expected to experience a reduction in performance levels across the board. Also, lower recovery levels between sessions, susceptibility to DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and increased risk of injury are expected- especially if the reason for cessation of training is due to an injury.

What can someone do to try and minimise the effects of the issues mentioned above? Upon returning to training after a break, what many people try and do is go and train extra hard, and twice as much in an attempt to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, our bodies do not work like that and this approach will only result in overtraining. This is because our bodies can only adapt to a given amount of a stimulus at one time and after a period of detraining, this size of the stimulus needed for maximal adaption actually decreases. Therefore, the best approach when returning to training is to decrease the FIT principles from FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time) in order to moderate size of the stimulus on the body.

 

Frequency refers to the number of sessions per week that is being carried out, if you were training over 3 times per week prior to taking time off, it may be wise to decrease frequency by up to 50% and then gradually build back up. For example, if you originally trained 4 times per week and then took an 8-12 week break, you may train twice on your first week back, 3 times on your second and be back up to 4 sessions per week by your third week back into full training.

 

Intensity refers to how vigorous a session is. Therefore, if you went through a block of training whereby a number of your lifts were at 80% of your 1 rep max, then it may be sensible to decrease this load to 60% of your 1 rep max and increase it by 5% each week until you are back at 80%.

 

Time refers to the duration of each training session. This concept is best applied to cardiovascular exercise. Simply put, if you were running for 45 minutes each session prior to taking time away from training. You would look at decreasing this amount, depending on how much time you had away from exercise. Typically, you may decrease to 25 minutes if you took a month off, and then increase the duration by 5 minutes each week until you were back at 45 minutes.

 

All these precautions are necessary to try and reduce the risk of injury and to make sure the body can adequately recover between sessions instead of experiencing burnout and having to take more time away from training. It’s also worth noting that the stimulus needed to maintain performance is significantly less than what is needed to improve. Therefore, performance will not continue decrease, even on much smaller training loads whilst building back up.

 

The effect of volume on muscle growth

The effect of volume on muscle growth

 

The study: Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine and science in sports and exercise51(1), 94

 

 

  • 45 men with an average lifting experience of 4.4 years of lifting performed the same exercises in the 8-12 rep range, 3x per week for 8 weeks

 

 

  • The men were split into 3 groups. One performed each exercise for 1 set per session, one group for 3 sets per session and 1one group for 5 sets per session

 

 

  • The results found a dose-response-relationship between sets performed and change in muscle thickness (muscle hypertrophy)

 

  • This was still the case with extremely high volumes up to 45 sets.

 

Summary and application:

 

  • In summary, the study supports the idea that higher volume results in increased hypertrophy even up to very high levels of volume (45 sets on a muscle group per week)
  • This information is applicable to the general population who may be experiencing plateaus in their training, which could be down to them not increasing their volume for a prolonged period of time.
  • How can you increase volume without spending vast amounts of time in the gym? Methods include drop sets, rest-pause sets and giant sets.

Exercise Selection and Goals

One aspect of programme design that many people are confused over is how to decide what exercises to add to their programme. There can be many misconceptions about regarding this, such as ‘machines are less functional than dumbbells’, causing many people to stray from using machines. However, ‘functional’ has become an ambiguous term in fitness, so it’s worth applying its original definition of ‘designed to be practical and useful’. Therefore, if an exercise is practical and useful to that individual then it is, by definition, functional.

 

How do we decide what is practical and useful for an individual? Well, there is several factors to consider. One of which, is their goals, as different goals will require different exercises, we apply the concept of specificity to choose the most optimal exercises. Not to mention a form of assessment and screening of an individual to determine what they a lacking in terms of mobility, strength and stability.

 

Hypertrophy:

 

If someone’s only goal is to build or retain muscle, then exercise selection can make a significant difference to the end result. For an exercise to be effective for this goal, the limiting factor in the exercise has to be the targeted muscle tissue. In other words, the reason you fail to do another rep must be due to fatigue felt in the muscle you are trying to work, and not another reason such as a loss of balance.

 

To achieve this, exercises that have high external stability will deliver better results. Exercises that have high external stability require less stabilisation from the person performing the exercise (internal stability), therefore muscular fatigue is much more likely to be the reason for failure as opposed to a breakdown in technique, thus making it superior for hypertrophy.

 

However, there is a caveat to this- Stability drives output. Therefore, if someone is lacking stability at a joint then this can limit long term hypertrophy of the muscles attached. For instance, someone with average mobility at the hip could get significant results in hamstring hypertrophy using a Barbell Romanian Deadlift or a Squat up to a point. However, form may start to breakdown once using a certain load which would express the underlying lack of stability within the hip.

 

 

Therefore, the use of exercises with a higher internal stability can be implemented in their programme, to improve performance and further drive hypertrophy. To go back to the hamstring hypertrophy example, the person may add a single leg Romanian Deadlift variations and progressions to their programming to help improve stability at the hip and further help increase load and drive hypertrophy when performing Barbell Romanian Deadlifts.

 

Strength:

If the goal is strength, then the focus shifts away from muscle tissue and towards the movement itself. What movements do you want to get stronger in and why? Often this goal is adopted by athletes as their sports will have specific movements to get stronger in, which will help advance them in their sports.

 

The most obvious example would be powerlifting. Powerlifting involves lifting the most amount of weight for 1 rep each of the Bench Press, Deadlift and Back Squat. Therefore, when putting together a powerlifting programme we apply the concept of specificity and base the programme around the 3 main lifts mentioned, accompanied by accessory movements to assist the improvement in performance of the competition lifts. However even with strength if an individual is lacking adequate hip stability and they are aiming to achieve absolute strength on the said lift then spending time on one leg within their program will help further drive the adaptations required to exert force on their lifts.

 

Alternatively, athletes of other sports are going to select resistance exercises which complement the movements that they complete in their sport. For example, many sports involve running. Therefore, for many of these athletes, performing front foot elevated split squats may be beneficial. This is because this exercise shares many similarities to the skill of running. Both are uni-lateral, internally stable skills, involve flexion and extension of the hip and knee as well as plantar flexion and dorsi flexion at the ankle it will also train the athlete to keep their centre of mass balanced as fatigue can kick in during long distances and heel strikes can get heavier towards the latter stages of a race. Building strength in this movement can allow the athlete to apply more force at a given effort when performing the sport.

 

This can aid in the development of running economy- a reduction in the amount of energy expended at a given speed. In terms of transfer to performance, this can help the athlete run faster, for longer without form breaking down and thus reduce the risk of injuries.

 

 

Overall, it is crucial to truly analyse your goals because many people wish to simultaneously achieve improved strength and hypertrophy, which is very achievable for everyone except very advanced lifters. The importance of each goal is going to play a role in which exercises are selected, so it is important to have this established before forming the programme.

 

With anyone we work with here at Soma Fitness, we run them through a full assessment to determine where the starting point of the program is. This is highly beneficial as if you don’t pick certain aspects up and run with a cookie cutter program you will be leaving a lot on the table in terms of the progression of your results. If someone cannot get into certain positions and we then go and load them in those positions, it’s a quick way to set yourself up for injuries which will then hinder your overall progression towards your goals.

Should you track your nutritional intake?

Firstly, I would like to say if you’re serious about driving fat loss or muscle hypertrophy then absolutely yes you will have more chance of success in the initial phases at least if you are tracking your consumption. If you have long term success tracking calories and macronutrients, then you will know how effective it is in dialling in on your goals. However, from personal experience of managing my own and clients, nutrition, tracking calories and micronutrients day by day there can be some flaws to this method to help one stay on track with your nutrition.

 

The first, and main, reason I am not a supporter of tracking in the long term is that it requires a lot of time which many people often cannot fit into a busy schedule. For example, many people at work 9-5, have children to look after around that, as well as trying to make time for exercise and a healthy social life. If you are already stuck for time, the last thing you need is to be compelled to open up an app and make a diary entry every single time you eat.

 

Secondly, along with time, there are certain times where it’s simply inconvenient. If you are enjoying a few drinks at the weekend with your friends, not many people want to open MyFitnessPal every time someone gets another round in. Not only that, you’re probably going to forget to do so after the 6th!

 

Thirdly, it’s unnecessarily complex. Many apps will have you tracking calories, carbohydrates, protein and fats and lead you to believe that you need to hit each to the exact figure recommended. In reality, for anyone with body composition goals (building muscle and/or lose fat), carbohydrates and fats consumed do not significantly influence one’s results. As long as you hit your daily calorie target within 100kcal and have at least 2.2g protein per kg of bodyweight, then grams of carbohydrates and fats consumed simply does not matter (for body composition, for overall health it can but that’s a topic for a different blog).

 

These reasons are often the cause of many people giving up on tracking their nutrition. This in turn gives them a sense of failure and exhaustion towards making healthy nutritional choices, sending many back to previous bad habits

 

 

 

Aside from the impractical element of tracking, there’s the inaccuracy that often comes with it. Unless you are weighing every single food and drink that enters your body to the gram then you are not going to be 100% accurate. This is a big issue with more calorie dense foods. For instance, ‘A splash of olive oil’ is a subjective term. To some, this could mean 15ml and for some it could be 50ml. The difference in calories for this 123kcal vs 410kcal. This difference of almost 300kcal is enough to tip someone from a small calorie deficit back to their maintenance, without realising. Learning the skills of how to track and be accurate with is something that requires an element of coaching in itself and we have recently begun to provide out clients with guides on how to track using my fitness pal which is probably the most user-friendly app.

 

Lastly, another reason I do not like the tracking method is that it does not take into account micronutrients. These essential vitamins and minerals make a huge difference to overall health, helping you stay clear of chronic diseases. However, on tracking apps, 500kcal from a small pizza is the same as 500kcal from a chicken breast and vegetables.

 

So how do you ensure you’re making the correct nutritional choices for your goals?

 

Personally, I find that the most effective method for this is to plan ahead. Organising your nutrition on a Sunday for example, or whenever you get time, formulate yourself a meal plan for the week ahead. Plan out what you are going to eat and when, use tracking devices and labels to help you calculate protein and calories, forget about carbohydrates and fats if a change in body composition is your goal as a beginner if you are new to tracking keep it as simple as you can. Also, plan each day to have at least 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables to ensure you are consuming all the micronutrients you need.

 

If you keep note of how many calories and protein meals you often consume contains, then a few weeks in, you will have a menu of all of your meals with the portion sizes for each meal and you can continue adding meals to your plan for the week, as protein and calories will already by noted, saving you a lot of time in the long run. If you want to smash your goals this method of creating your menu based on your protein and calorie requirements will in the initial phases be a little bit of work and planning however after a good 4 weeks of doing so you will have all the tools required for you to keep your nutrition consistent which in the world of weight loss or building a physique is the most important driver in which will determine lasting success.

 

As for going out socialising, 100% accuracy cannot be achieved. However, knowing how many calories are in 1 glass of your chosen drink, and knowing roughly how much you drink will be much better than failing to track at all. If you know that you will be going out over the weekend you can then reduce calories in the week to make up for it. (Check out our blog on calorie banking for more on this).

 

Similar to training, planning ahead often yields much more effective results than being reactive day to day.