The term macro-nutrients (macros) originates from the Greek word makros, meaning large. Macros are the nutrients you require daily in large amounts.
Macro-nutrients provide the body with energy (calories) and provide the building blocks of cellular growth, immune function, and overall repair. They are:
Fat. 9 calories / gram;
Protein. 4 calories / gram;
Carbohydrate. 4 calories / gram.
Your body also requires micronutrients in smaller amounts, such as vitamins and minerals.
Of all the macro-nutrients, fats (and oils) provide the most energy (calories) per gram. Important for critical functions such as nutrient absorption (especially the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K), hormone production, temperature regulation and providing an alternative energy source (in fact, cardiac muscle cells derive up to 90% of their energy requirement from fatty acids).
Dietary fats are either saturated or unsaturated.
Saturated fats come mostly from animal sources. At the chemical level they are tightly packed and have no double bonds, hence the term saturated. These fats are generally solid at room temperature and tend to be shelf-stable for a longer period of time.
Unsaturated fats include those that are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Chemically, these fatty acids are loosely packed and have either a single (mono) or multiple (poly) double bonds. The important Omega-3 fatty acids belong in this group. Unsaturated fats are generally in liquid form even when refrigerated and have a shorter shelf life.
The recommended daily intake is between 20-35% of the total caloric intake, although many people find optimal function and performance at higher levels.
Good sources of healthy fat include fish, meats, avocado, nuts, butter, olive and coconut oils.
Proteins are important for the body to be able to build and repair cells and tissue structures, produce enzymes and hormones as well as regulate your immune system. Protein requirements will vary depending on individual body weight and fitness levels.
Typical recommendations for protein intake is between 15-25% of the total caloric intake.
Good sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, lentils and diary products.
Carbohydrates Carbohydrates provide the body with fuel. They are broken down into sugars by the body and either provide immediate energy or are stored in the liver and muscles for later use in the form of glycogen.
Carbohydrates can either be complex or simple.
Simple carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides) are made up of either one or two sugar units and can be broken down fairly quickly in the body. Simply put, blood sugar levels typically rise quickly, then drop just as quick after the consumption of simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides) are made up of long strings of sugar units that take longer to break down for use in the body. Due to these longer strings of sugars, complex carbohydrates take longer to be broken down and as such, generally have a lesser impact on blood glucose levels.
In addition to providing fuel to the body, complex carbohydrates, particularly fiber, can help the body to maintain healthy digestive function and a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.
Although high, typical recommendations for carbohydrate intake is between 45-65% of the total caloric intake.
Good sources of carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, tubers and grains.
How to actually count macro-nutrients
Use the following steps to effectively count macro-nutrients:
Identify how many calories you want to eat each day.
Identify the ratio of macro-nutrients that you want to consume. The current recommendations in Australia are as follows:
Multiply the total daily calories by the identified percentages.
Divide the calorie amounts by the macro-nutrient calorie-per-gram number.
Our case athlete is following a 2,000 calorie diet using 25% fats, 25% protein and 50% carbohydrates.
Fat (9 calories / gram)
25% of 2,000 calories = 500 calories of fat per day
total amount of fat per day = 500/9 = 56 grams
Protein (4 calories / gram)
25% of 2,000 calories = 500 calories of protein per day
total amount of protein per day = 500/4 = 125 grams
Carbohydrates (4 calories / gram)
50% of 2,000 calories = 1,000 calories of carbohydrates per day
total amount of carbohydrates per day = 1,000/4 = 250 grams
From these simple equations we can determine how many grams for each macro-nutrient our case athlete should be eating per day. With the above example to achieve the goal of 2,000 calories our case athlete would need to eat 56 grams of fat, 125 grams of protein and 250 grams of carbohydrates.
Let us look at one more case athlete. Still following an 2,000 calorie diet, but following a fairly standard ketogenic nutrition plan using 65% fats, 25% protein and 10% carbohydrates.
Fat (9 calories / gram)
65% of 2,000 calories = 1300 calories of fat per day
total amount of fat per day = 1300/9 = 144 grams
Protein (4 calories / gram)
25% of 2,000 calories = 500 calories of protein per day
total amount of protein per day = 500/4 = 125 grams
Carbohydrates (4 calories / gram)
10% of 2,000 calories = 200 calories of carbohydrates per day
total amount of carbohydrates per day = 200/4 = 50 grams
For ketogenic case athlete to achieve the same goal of 2,000 calories they would need to eat 144 grams of fat, 125 grams of protein and 50 grams of carbohydrates.
Two different case athletes with different macro-nutrient breakdowns and achieving the same total caloric intake.
Each macro-nutrient has important role in the body, essential to optimal health and performance. Understanding how to count these macros can produce a variety of health benefits, including the improvement in the overall quality of diet, smarter food choices and portion control, which when combined with a healthy exercise program can assist in reaching specific goals including improved body composition, lean muscle growth and / or effective weight loss.
When I track my calories I have found the CRONOMETER application to be a great tool for not only tracking macros, but have found that it also tracks more vitamins and minerals than any other application on the market.
High in vitamins A and K, folate, sulforaphane and other antioxidants;
Good source of fiber, vitamin C, manganese, potasssium, copper and calcium.
Kale’s high levels of antioxidants make it effective in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. High concentrations of of lutein and zeaxanthin in particular may help prevent degenerative eye diseases such as cataract, macular degeneration and glaucoma. In addition, kale also contains high amounts of sulforaphane, a compound that studies have shown to be a potent anticancer agent.
Making the most of Kale
Boiling kale decreases the level of sulforaphane. However, steaming, microwaving or stir frying does not result in any significant loss.
Cooking kale with butter activates the vitamin K content making it more bio-available to the body.
Kale has been found to contain a group of resins known as bile acid sequestrants, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. Steaming significantly increases these bile acid binding properties.
Adding kale to your diet can be easy. It can be added to salads and smoothies in order to boost the nutritional value.
Another popular snack is kale chips, where you drizzle some olive oil on your kale, add some salt, then bake until dry and crispy.
So another year has gone by and I’m another year older. Here is a current update on my training, nutrition and other key happenings in life. If you’re interested, links to my previous annual updates can be found here: 36-ish and 37-ish.
Context and Goals
38-year-old. 180cm. 74kg.
I want to be fit enough, fast enough and strong enough to get through the daily challenges of life. With continued learning and adaptation, living healthy and well into old age.
Oh, and add a little more lean muscle too.
Once again, the caveat is that this is what has worked for me so far…
What do I eat? You could call it some sort of ancestral or paleo type diet, but it’s basically a whole foods diet. It’s evolved over the years and I have reintroduced certain foods into the daily rotation like butter, cheese and the occasional slice of sourdough bread at breakfast.
For the most part, I just try to reduce or eliminate highly processed fast foods, crappy vegetable oils and added sugars as much as practicable.
On most days I’ll eat 2 meals with a snack, with at least 5 or 6 hours between meals, which allows the digestive system to have adequate time to do its job and metabolise nutrients to properly fuel the body.
As a general rule, my macronutrient breakdown would average out to be in the ballpark of:
40-50% fats and oils;
More recently, I have been trying to add more carbohydrate into my diet to help facilitate lean muscle growth.
It’s definitely not keto which has become quite popular these days, but it’s still a fairly low carbohydrate diet and I would definitely be cycling in and out of ketosis on a weekly basis. I’ve done some occasional ketone testing and usually score between 0.5 to 0.8 mmol/L, which is considered nutritional ketosis. If you’re within this range you’re generally thought to be metabolically healthy, meaning that you’re able to switch between glucose (sugar) and ketones (a byproduct from the breakdown of fatty acids) as an energy source efficiently.
What does this actually look like on a plate? Well… quality sources of protein first, such as pasture raised beef, chicken, pork or some sustainably sourced fish. Then, a variety of leafy greens and root vegetables, and finally some good fats like avocado, butter, ghee, coconut or olive oil. Add some cheese like Gouda or Provolone to close out the meal and you’re done.
I eat plenty of eggs, bone broths and fermented foods, like kimchi and yoghurt. I drink a lot of mineral water and my coffee is almost always black. A glass of red wine, specifically a pinot noir or a classic gin martini is always welcome to round out the weekend.
I normally train in a fasted state, or after a cup of black coffee with some MCT oil. During periods of more intense training, I’ll have a serve of WPC prior to my workout, in order to help prevent the breakdown of lean muscle.
Contrary to what a lot of people think is best practice for weight management, most of my calories are usually consumed in the final meal of the day. I find that eating meals higher in carbohydrates at the end of the day allows me to replenish depleted glycogen stores, and preparing my body to train early the following day. I also have more time available in the evening to get creative and prepare larger meals.
This has worked well for me for the last 12-18 months, I’ve been able to maintain my weight and body composition easily and have had fairly consistent energy levels throughout the day.
I’ll stress this again, this has worked well for me.
Adding some additional weight to this argument is that I’m human, and I’m more likely to be sharing a meal in the evening after work with friends or family. This was the case until recently. The global COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent societal lockdowns have greatly restricted what individuals or groups of people are able to do in public. But more on that later…
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding. There is a difference. As mentioned earlier, I generally eat two main meals per day. One meal post workout and one at the end of the day. I would argue that this is called time-restricted feeding, with all meals being consumed within a predetermined window of time, for example between 12pm and 8pm on a regular basis.
Intermittent fasting is exactly that. Intermittent, meaning occasional. Humans have evolved over time to thrive through seasonal periods of both excess and limited food availabilities. This is why the body can switch and use both ketones and glucose as an effective energy source.
How do I fast? Depending on the day, lets say a typical day where I do a strength workout, I might only have a 10-12 hour overnight fast while on other days I can stretch it out to 16-18 hours with ease. Occasionally on a low tempo day, I would dabble in a longer fast of up to 24-32 hours. This wasn’t very regular, Maybe only 3 or 4 times over the last 12 months.
Eating out. It’s 2020 and eating out is a part of modern life. Well it was until recently. The global COVID-19 outbreak has placed the community on lockdown which has greatly restricted people from eating out. In fact, eating out is dead, for now. A lot of restaurants have had to resort to takeout or delivery options just to continue daily operations. Many places have closed indefinitely. Hopefully in the near future some restaurants will be able to reopen, even if it means limiting the amount of customers dining at any given time.
Lucky I know a little bit about nutrition and how to cook.
I don’t take a lot of supplements on a daily basis. I try to get all of my nutrient requirements through diet alone, with the addition of some Cod Liver Oil during the winter months to boost vitamins A and D, which among things, support optimal immune system function.
As mentioned earlier, my pre-workout is typically a cup of black coffee with some MCT oil, and I’ll occasionally use a whey protein powder pre or post workout.
Magnesium. This is probably one of the most important supplements for me. Mostly taken post workout in the warmer months or in the evenings prior to sleep. Magnesium is vitally important to over 300 biological functions in the body and these days it’s not that easy to get enough from diet alone. Add in some intense training or some elevated stress or workloads, and your requirement increases.
Additionally, over the last 12 months I have added Olive Leaf Extract during the standard cold and flu season to help strengthen the immune system.
Strength and conditioning. During the last 12 months I’ve focused on two training protocols. The first being mostly completing the bigger compound lifts first, then finish up with some accessory exercises and a finisher.
That means, deadlifts, power cleans, weighted pull-ups, horizontal and vertical presses. Followed by some accessory work like push-ups, dips, cable rows, split squats and ab rollouts.
Sets and repetitions will vary from workout to workout, but generally I’ll aim for about 12-20 repetitions in total for each movement. How many sets it takes reach that total will depend on how I’m feeling on the day.
My other strength and conditioning focus has been the kettlebell lifts. These can be more dynamic and can develop strength and conditioning when implemented in circuit style training. I’ve found that I can get a higher volume in lifts during my kettlebell training phases, not to mention a good sweat.
Heavy Turkish getups (up to 50kg), farmers carries and high volume kettlebell swings have also featured consistently in my programming.
These three exercises are so good for you that you could almost base your entire strength and conditioning program around them and you’re likely to see consistent progression throughout the year.
Really simple. But simple works. I can also finish most workouts in about 30 or 40 minutes.
I’m not breaking any strength records, but I’m tracking pretty good for a guy who is nearly 40 years old. I’m athletic, generally in good health and rarely injured, meaning that I have the ability to be consistent. This allows me to be active just about any day that I choose, which is most.
Running. It’s been mostly interval work and 5km racing. Occasionally, I’ll run longer distances out to about 8km. For the most part however, it’s just the shorter, more intense runs that I feel the most benefit from.
In the last twelve months I have competed in the following events:
Mothers Day Classic, 4k (18:22min) (11th in category)
Run Melbourne, 5.2k (22:40min) (18th in category)
Melbourne Marathon, 5k (21:23min) (3rd in category)
Portsea Twilight, 4k (DNS)
I suffered severe muscular spasms in my back several days prior to the Portsea Twilight 4k which forced me not to start the event. It was a bit of a setback, and it took several weeks to recover and resume training at lighter loads which caused me to miss some of the summer circuit before the COVID-19 restrictions suspended all races.
I also competed in five virtual races with the New York Road Runners (NYRR), where you track a run locally and upload it to a global leaderboard.
NYRR Global Running Day Virtual, 1.6k (6:55min)
NYRR World Championship Virtual, 5k (22:36min)
NYRR TCS NYC Marathon Virtual, 5k (22:31min)
NYRR Resolution Run Virtual, 5k (22:34min)
NYRR Virtual, 5k (21:44min)
Basketball. Last year I started playing basketball again. Both socially and competitively. It’s a sport I’ve played since I was 12 years old. The only time away from the sport was from 2006-2013, when my military career took priority and I was unable to commit to the sport due to the amount of time I was away from home.
I was fortunate enough to play for Victoria in 2019 Defence Force National Basketball Championship. It was extremely competitive level of basketball and a lot of fun. It had been a while since I had played at such a high level of sport.
With other quality offensive players on the team, I didn’t shoot or score in the volume that I am normally required to do when I’m on the court, but it was great to play a lot of effective minutes and contribute to the team, especially in some of the closer contests.
The Men’s title was won by New South Wales and the women’s title went to Queensland.
Overall, I’m having a lot of fun playing sport again. I just love competing. Each night I’m matching up against players half my age so it’s a good feeling to be competitive and even beat most of my opponents on a nightly basis.
Right now my training consists of three days of strength and conditioning combined with two or three days of running (mostly easy/mid level efforts and some sprint work). Each workout will last about 30 minutes.
On the days I haven’t run, I usually go for an evening walk around the river for about an hour. I’ve found it a great way to stay mobile, relax and keep up-to-date on listening to some informative podcasts.
COVID-19. With the government imposed community lockdowns in an attempt to “flatten the curve” during the global COVID-19 outbreak, I’ve had to make fairly significant changes to how I train. Firstly, the gyms are closed until further notice.
Personally, I feel that this has been a great opportunity to explore other areas of fitness. I’m fortunate enough to have spent the last 17 years in the military and have a solid understanding of “real” functional fitness. With gyms closed people have had to get creative with their workouts.
I have started to incorporate more circuit type workouts into my programming where I’ll run for 10 to 15 minutes, then conduct a series of bodyweight movements like push-ups, pull-ups, air-squats and mountain climbers then run the return leg.
Alternatively, I have a few training aids at home including some kettlebells, a sandbag, a sledgehammer, a deadball and an ab wheel that I can incorporate into home workouts.
Probably not too bad a set up for general fitness and conditioning training. Most strength based workouts are combining a variation of an overhead press with some pull-ups and goblet squats, then finishing with either high volume sledgehammering or swings.
Add in the occasional sprint workout, hike or loaded lift and carry and you’re set.
A final point. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
I’m living in Melbourne, Australia. It’s my fourth year at home and I’m loving it. Being around family and friends definitely makes life more enjoyable. The importance of good social connections is often overlooked when it comes to optimising ones health and how they perform on a daily basis.
I love a cup of coffee and can be always found at cafe on the weekend post workout catching up with friends. I also don’t mind entertaining friends with the occasional get together at my apartment. The annual Hot Cider and Christmas Cocktail nights were a lot of fun and both had good turn outs.
A key point to note here is having flexibility. No-one is perfect and it’s fine to make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from these experiences. Everyone is human, and we all have to live in the present day. I make mistakes, just like everybody else. I always try to seek constructive criticism so I can make a better, more informed decision the next time a particular event crosses my path.
Travel. Last June I was fortunate enough to travel to the southern island of New Zealand for two weeks. It was my first time visiting. I spent time in Christchurch, Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo, Wanaka, Queenstown and Dunedin. During that time I was able to conduct multiple hikes saw some amazing country. I was also able to catch up with a good friend towards the end of my trip in Dunedin.
As usual, I also spent some time at the family holiday home on Mornington Peninsula. Always a great option for a lazy weekend getaway and some valuable beach time.
My studies. In December 2019, I completed a Diploma level qualification in Nutrition. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, my graduation ceremony was postponed indefinitely. I have since received my qualification in the mail.
The global COVID-19 outbreak. As I mentioned earlier, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced the government to lockdown the community in an attempt to slow the infection rate to reduce the burden on the medical system. It’s a global problem. Almost everybody has been effected in one way or another.
I’m lucky enough to still be employed and have some sort of normal daily structure. Defence provides a critical role within many areas for the nation from national security to logistical and medical support. Many industries however, are not as fortunate and many people have been out of work for several months now.
The lockdown has changed the modern way of life as we know it. No travel. International travel has stopped. Gyms, social sports, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, bars are all closed… and the list goes on.
Forced social distancing means less face-to-face human interaction and more online interactions through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Zoom.
The thing here is that humans are innately social creatures. Telling people to stay away and isolate from each other during an incredible stressful time is kind of counter intuitive. People generally want to help each other and offer support where they can to benefit those in need, but in this case, the message has been to stay home and isolate. I haven’t seen the statistics, but it’s safe to say there will be an increase in mental health conditions relating to extended social isolation.
Some really good lifestyle tips that I’ve picked up from other people much smarter than me on keeping both mentally and physically healthy that can be applied during the lockdown and other periods of isolation:
create daily structure with regards to time management;
get daily sun exposure;
daily physical activity;
eat nutrient dense foods;
build a consistent sleeping pattern;
keep up social connectivity, face-to-face or via video conferencing.
Who knows what the next 12 months will bring? Hopefully, the world has found a way to better manage the whole COVID-19 situation and we’re all out and about again returning to somewhat of a normal life. One thing is for sure, society will be different in 12 months time.
Ghee is a form of clarified butter that has been used traditionally in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures for thousands of years.
It’s made by heating butter to separate the water, salts and milk solids from the golden butter fat. What you’re left with is an easily digestible fat that is highly nutritious with a subtle nutty aroma and flavour.
That’s how ghee has much lower levels of diary proteins (such as casein) and sugars (lactose) than butter.
It has a variety of benefits, including a solid nutrient profile and really high smoke point, so it’s safe to cook at high temperatures without damaging the fat.
Below are some of the health benefits of ghee.
It has a high smoke point
Ghee is a healthy cooking fat due to its incredibly high smoke point (250°C / 480°F), which is higher than many other cooking fats or oils.
This means that it’s an excellent fat to use when cooking as it’s a natural and stable fat, meaning that its chemical structure will not be altered or damaged (becoming toxic) when it’s heated to higher temperatures.
Ghee is a suitable alternative for individuals with dairy allergies
Since ghee is formed by removing milk solids from butter, it contains only trace amounts of the milk proteins (such as casein) and sugars (lactose), making it suitable for most people with dairy allergies.
If you do have a sensitivity to diary it is suggested that you try a small amount over several days to assess your individual tolerance.
Ghee has an excellent nutritional profile
Ghee has a nutritional profile similar to butter, without the diary proteins and sugars.
Although high in total fat content, it does contain good amounts of healthy monounsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, along with good amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These nutrients are essential for a variety of body functions, including proper hormone production and optimal brain, cardiovascular and immune system function.
Ghee is also a very good source of butyrate and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), both of which have been associated with a number of health benefits, including reduced overall inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk, improved digestion, increased energy and even fat loss.
Due to its fat content, ghee also assists in the body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from other foods.
Ghee could be a great addition to your nutritional plan as an alternative to butter or other cooking oils and fats. It has a solid nutrient profile, a great buttery taste and can be used in cooking at higher temperatures.
Bell peppers belong to the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, along with eggplant, tomatoes and white potatoes (but not sweet potatoes). Although most people have no problems with nightshades, they can have negative health effects for people struggling with inflammatory bowel disease or an autoimmune disease, such as celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
However, more research is needed before definitive claims can be made.
Why it’s a superfood?
High in vitamins A, C and B6 along with fiber and folate;
Good source of vitamins E and K, manganese, potassium and several antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Bell peppers are one of the highest sources of vitamin C and a single cup can provide over 200% of the recommended daily intake of this important nutrient. Bell peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids).
What is the difference in bell pepper colours
Most varieties of bell peppers start off green in color and undergo color changes during the process of maturation. These colour changes can range from yellow, oranges to reds and even purples.
Feeding your body with right foods may help activate proper function of the immune system. If you’re looking for easy ways to reduce the risk or even prevent illnesses such as the common cold and other flu-like illnesses, your first step should be a visit to the local grocery store.
Some foods are better than others when it comes to priming the immune system. Here is a quick look at a few key nutrients that are critical for proper immune function and which foods you can find them.
A fat soluble vitamin, vitamin A promotes good vision, gene replication, healthy immune function and proper skin health.
There are two ways in which vitamin A is available to humans:
preformed vitamin A;
Preformed vitamin A is found predominantly in animal sources like liver and butter, while carotenoids are found in plant sources.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts, which all help the body to protect against infections. It regulates the immune system and plays a key role in producing white blood cells which fight off infections within the body.
Top foods for vitamin A
Lamb’s liver (735% RDA per 3oz)
Sweet potato (214% RDA per cup)
Tuna (143% DV per 6oz)
Pumpkin (127% DV per cup)
An essential nutrient, meaning that the body is unable to synthesize it on its own, humans must on rely on their diet for an adequate source of vitamin C.
Vitamin C performs a variety of functions throughout the body. Primarily by donating electrons in biochemical reactions. It is required by the body for the development and maintenance of scar tissue, blood vessels, collagen synthesis and proper iron absorption. It’s also an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, a type of molecule known to damage and disrupt the immune system.
Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C can boost immune function, and in turn reducing the severity and duration of cold and flu like symptoms.
Top foods for vitamin C:
Guava (419% DV per cup)
Red and green peppers (211%)
Kiwi fruit (185%)
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it is required to be consumed with fatty acids to be absorbed by the body. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and is also important in proper heart function, protection against heart disease and a reduction in chronic inflammation.
Top foods for vitamin E:
Almonds & sunflower seeds (49% DV per oz)
Avocado (28% DV per avocado)
Spinach (25% DV per cup)
Kiwi fruit (18%)
Zinc is an extremely versatile mineral required as a cofactor by more than 300 enzymes. Virtually all cells contain zinc, with the highest concentrations being found in muscle and bone.
Zinc supports many functions including the production of certain immune cells, building proteins, wound healing, reproduction and creating DNA. Zinc is also essential for creation and activation of T-lymphocytes, which are the core of adaptive immunity, the system that tailors the body’s immune response to specific pathogens.
Several studies have shown that supplementing with zinc can protect against respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. Similar to vitamin C, Zinc may also reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu like symptoms.
The protein leverage hypothesis states that homo sapiens, or modern humans will prioritise the protein content in food over all other dietary components, and will continue to eat until the body’s protein needs have been met, regardless of the energy content, leading to the over-consumption of food when the protein content is low.
Simply put, when there’s not enough protein in the diet, the body will crave more food until it has satisfied this requirement, regardless of the caloric content. This is likely an evolutionary adaption over millions of years, where getting enough dietary protein meant a greater chance of survival.
What does this actually mean?
Well, if you consider that if you eat 100g of steak, you will consume approx. 25g of protein. Similarly, 100g of lentils contain approx. 25g of protein.
In contrast, if you eat 100g of bread, you will only consume approx. 12g of protein, while 100g of potato chips provides approx. 7g of protein.
This would mean that you would have to eat two or three times the amount of bread or potato chips to acquire the same amount of protein, due to the lower protein content in those foods. Both items also have a much higher carbohydrate and unhealthy fat content, leading to a much higher caloric content without adding any real nutritional value.
If you don’t prioritise your protein intake, you’ll need to consume a greater amount of calories to reach your body’s protein and mineral requirements, ultimately leading to excessive or unwanted weight gain.
With so many hyper-palatable foods readily available today, this may not exactly be the ideal scenario for the large portion of society who are currently overweight or obese and constantly trying to lose excess body fat. This can incredibly confusing, especially with so many debates on what exactly is healthy or sustainable nutrition.
Currently, in Australia and New Zealand, the accepted range for dietary protein and other micronutrients is 15-25% of total energy consumed. If you’re eating mostly whole foods and are meeting these requirements, your body will be better equipped to self regulate its individual energy requirement.
This hypothesis has been studied in 2005 and again 2019 as a possible contributor to the obesity epidemic.
Cod liver oil is a fish oil supplement. It has a long history in medicine, dating back to the late 1700’s where is was first used to treat rheumatism and then rickets and a variety of other infections.
Similar to other fish oils, cod liver oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to a variety of health benefits including reduced overall inflammation, improved brain function, heart health and lower blood pressure.
Cod liver oil also contains bioavailable forms of vitamins A and D, often deficient in the modern diet, provide many other health benefits contributing to optimal health and performance.
Typical nutritional profile of a 5 ml serving:
Omega-3 fatty acids: 1000mg
Vitamin A: approx. 90% of RDI
Vitamin D: approx. 110% of RDI
Below are just some of the scientifically back health benefits of supplementing with cod liver oil:
Great source of vitamins A and D
Cod liver oil is incredibly nutritious food, providing approx. 90% of the daily requirement for vitamin A and over 100% of the daily vitamin D requirements.
Traditionally cod liver oil was given to children to support proper growth and brain development, stronger bones and a general protection from infection. It was also taken by mothers during pregnancy and breast-feeding to support the optimal development of their infant.
Vitamin A has many roles in the human body, including maintaining eye health, the immune system, brain function and healthy skin.
It is also one of the best food sources of vitamin D, which has many important roles in the body including brain health and maintaining bone homeostasis by regulating calcium absorption.
Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body fight infections and heal injuries.
In some cases however, this inflammation may continue at low levels for extended periods of time. This is known as chronic inflammation, which is harmful and may increase the risk high blood pressure and several other health conditions.
The omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil may help suppress chronic inflammation.
Improved bone health
Having strong bones is incredibly important, especially as you enter advanced age. It is common for people to begin to have a reduction in bone density levels from about the age of 30 years. This can lead to fractures and breaks later in life, especially in women after menopause.
Cod liver oil is a great dietary source of vitamin D and may reduce age-related bone loss. That’s because it helps your body absorb and regulate calcium, which is a necessary mineral for strong and healthy bones.
Reduced joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by damage to the joints.
There is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. This study however, suggests that cod liver oil may reduce joint pain and improve some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis like joint stiffness and swelling.
In fact, cod liver oil has been used to treat patients with rheumatism since the late 1700’s.
Supports eye health
Cod liver oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA and vitamin A, both of which may protect against vision loss from age related and inflammatory eye diseases.
Cod liver oil is an incredibly nutritious food supplement. It is convent and contains high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, along with bioavailable forms of vitamins A and D which are important to optimal health and performance.
Traditionally used to support the proper growth and development of young children, it also has many other health promoting benefits.
Adding cod liver oil to your diet may provide health benefits such as improved bone density, an increased protection against general illness and a reduction in joint pain for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
In general, dosing is usually between 1 and 2 teaspoons (5-10ml) per day. For those who can’t handle the taste it also comes in capsule form.
Alternatively, you can add your daily dose to a small glass of fresh juice or water.
Protein is necessary for muscle repair and growth. It is an essential macronutrient that is required for optimal function.
For this reason, many people consume protein supplements in the form of shakes along with their workouts.
However, the optimal time to have a protein shake is an often debated topic.
Some believe it’s best to drink a protein shake before a workout, whereas others argue that after a workout is ideal.
Myself personally, am a fan of the train fasted, compete fed philosophy.
How much protein do you require?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 g/kg of body weight.
The RDA is the estimated amount of a nutrient a person needs to avoid a deficiency. It doesn’t specify the amount needed to optimize body composition or health and performance.
Most research suggests that people who routinely strength train may need double the RDA, or 1.6 g/kg, to support muscle recovery and growth.
A protein shake is a good option between meals, either as a snack or around your workout. They typically contain 25–30 grams of protein per scoop.
The magical 30 minute window
Many people within the health and fitness industry believe that drinking a protein shake within 30 minutes of completing physical activity will maximize their results in the gym.
Previously, it was been thought that consuming protein within this window gave the athlete the best opportunity to build new muscle mass. More recent research however, suggests that this window is much longer than 30 minutes and may not be limited to the post-workout window.
Today, it has become widely accepted that total protein consumed throughout the day is probably as important to building lean muscle than the actual timing.
Whilst I am a fan of training in a fasted state, I do use branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) on occasion and my morning coffee is usually combined with some collagen. Whilst technically it breaks the fast, the collagen provides a small amino acid boost pre-workout, fuelling the muscles and generally resulting in improved physical performance.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who just don’t respond well to training without eating or drinking something beforehand. If you fall into this category then a protein shake post-workout will still contribute to muscle repair and growth.
That being said, here are some of the benefits of taking some protein during the pre-workout window.
Increased protein synthesis
Pre-workout protein, specifically BCAAs, will help fuel the muscles during physical activity. BCAAs do not need to be processed by the liver, so after being consumed, they head directly to the blood stream to be used by the muscles.
Taking protein prior to your workout primes the pump, starting protein synthesis during, rather than after your training session.
A pre-workout serve of BCAAs increases amino acid delivery to the muscles during physical activity. Taken alone or as part of a complete protein, such as whey protein powders, BCAAs inhibit muscle breakdown. The result is an even higher level of net protein synthesis.
Carryover effect post-workout
There is also a carryover effect of nutrients taken pre-workout. Protein synthesis can stay elevated for as long as 3 hours after consumption.
What does this mean? Consuming protein pre-workout will elevate amino acids within the blood both during and after your workout is over. This elevation of blood amino acids will not only trigger protein synthesis but help prevent excessive post-workout muscle breakdown.
Taking BCAAs along with some coffee pre-workout can be extremely beneficial during periods of low carbohydrate consumption. Adding BCCAs pre-workout, when glycogen stores are low (they will be if you eating a low carbohydrate diet), will increase fatty acid oxidation (aka fat burning) during periods of intense physical activity.
The nutrients consumed around your workout are critical to building and maintaining your physique.
While protein shakes around workouts and between meals are helpful, make sure you’re getting enough protein throughout the day. Consuming protein from quality food sources should be your primary goal.
Additional supplementation using protein shakes can help you meet your goals.
While the post-workout shake has long been the go-to for many bodybuilders and athletes, consuming some protein in the pre-workout window may be even more beneficial, by supporting intra-workout muscle growth.
If you are generally healthy and getting a good amount of quality protein throughout the day, then a serve of BCAAs pre-workout will provide an adequate boost during your workout.