Question 1: What are macros?
Answer: Macros, short for macronutrients, are the nutrients we need is larger amounts (macro) that comprise our foods. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are the 3 macronutrients. Protein contains 4 calories per gram (so 30g protein, or 30×4=120 calories), carbohydrates contains 4 calories per gram also, and fats contain 9 calories per gram (which is why a handful of nuts can be so calorically dense).
Question 2: How much protein should I eat?
Answer: It depends! Protein is incredibly important when it comes to changing our physique and gaining strength and muscle. the goal is .8-1.2 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight, but we’ll keep it simple. Aim for a gram per lb of bodyweight if you’re looking to build strength and muscle primarily, and aim for a gram per lb of your goal weight if you’re primarily looking for fat/weight loss.
Question 3: What does "hypertrophy" mean?
Answer: You’ll see this quite a bit in this space, and it means “muscle growth.” So if a program says it’s primary focus is hypertrophy, then you can expect it’s aiming at getting you bigger muscularly, or muscular ‘gains’ as the main focus. Strength and muscular endurance still come when training this way, but the primary outcome is as stated, ‘muscle growth.’
Question 4: Should I weigh myself everyday?
Answer: This depends on your relationship with the scale. I do not think it’s necessary at all to focus on scale weight as much as it’s such a touted metric. I do, however, love weighing daily for the education of your body’s fluctuations. Weighing daily shows you that weight will fluctuate, and helps you relate that increase of 2lbs to a higher-sodium, and carbohydrate Mexican dinner the night before. It can let you know how a woman’s period can cause weight retention, and how excess food intake can cause cause more food volume in the gut which will equate to an extra pound or two. Weighing this way with teach you how your body processes, which is beneficial. Is it necessary? No, but can be worthwhile depending on your current relationship with weight.
Question 5: How do I track macros?
Answer: This is an excellent example of something that is harder in imagination than it is in reality. You’ll need an app, such as “MyFitnessPal,” or “Lose It” to input your foods. You’ll also need a food scale, and some basic measuring cups/spoons (scale is the most important/accurate). You’ll add your bowl or plate to the scale, and press “tare” which zeroes the scale out. From there, add your first type of food, get the measurement and input it into your app. Press tare again, and repeat as necessary. If you’re eating out, look to see if the restaurant has nutrition facts you can manually input and use to make specific choices, and you can also scan barcodes of certain foods that you’re choosing to make input easy. Search in the app for the appropriate food to input; for example if you’re adding cooked steak, make sure you’re adding you’re 6oz of steak as a cooked (not raw) steak, and aim to match cut of meat, types or food etc. Tracking accurately is integral. Common errors include: miss tracking due to not weighing, not tracking condiments, creamers, dressings, and sauces, not tracking snacks, eating out too frequently where you’re not in control of your intake.
Question 6: Does keto work?
Answer: All diets work, that’s the problem. There’s a multitude of diets, and they all happen to work, they all just provide a different method, or means to produce the result. The aim of a diet is to produce weight loss. In order to produce weight loss, you must be in a calorie deficit. All diets are a means to create a calorie deficit, that is all. Keto provides weight loss because it limits an entire macronutrient: carbohydrates. It’s an unsustainable means of producing weight loss, because are you going to be able to abstain from eating carbohydrates forever? Probably not. Does that sound like the life you want to live? Also probably not. Keto can be incredibly effective in specific scenarios, such as: morbid obesity (when the body has an incredible amount of fat/stored energy to lose), epilepsy, major preference for eating a fat-dominant diet, endurance specific training, or a combination of large amount of weight to lose, and low activity, and a fat-dominant eating preference.
Question 7: Is it necessary to get 8 hours of sleep a night?
Answer: It’s certainly a great goal. Overall, it’s pretty overwhelming how the studies to support this as the general rule of thumb for optimum performance, recovery, energy, and bodily function. Few people can actually get away with 6 or less, and usually when they say they can, it’s because they haven’t prioritized optimizing their sleep! However, if you’re drastically under sleeping, or you have an odd schedule (night-shifter), then implementing naps can be beneficial. Think of it like this: naps aren’t as good as just having a great night’s sleep, but naps are better than having a terrible night’s sleep without a nap.
Question 8: Do I need to buy protein powder?
Answer: Need? No. Is it valuable? Yes. Here’s why: it can become difficult to get your protein in via whole foods entirely, especially at first when you begin to prioritize protein intake. A supplement in this regard helps, because it gets your intake up 20-30 grams with a pretty tasty shakes. Don’t be fooled by marketing saying it’s a necessity, it’s solely their to make your life easier at times.
Question 9: How often should I exercise?
Answer: This of course depends on context, as always. But overall, you want to do the least amount of exercise as possible to elicit the most amount of change. If you’re just starting out, 6 days a week of exercise is far too much, and will actually hinder results. At first, we want to focus on 1. sustainability, and 2. minimal effective dose. However, we want you to be active in your lifestyle. Increasing daily steps, more active hobbies, more moving is great. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself to moving in the gym only!
Question 10: Are there basic supplements you recommend?
Answer: This is always individual to the person, but generally, yes: (be sure to check labdoor.com for supplement rankings)
Fish oil: for inflammation, and general health/cognition. Refrigerate/freeze for storage!
Creatine: aids muscle recovery and performance, cognition, and is showing some benefits with anti-inflammation as well.
Protein: a quality protein powder to aid your total daily protein intake is incredibly valuable for body composition, satiation, recovery, and understanding of nutrition. Simple, effective.
Vitamin D: we’re all low (almost. Regulates hormones, bone and immune health, aids sex hormone levels and thyroid function, important for ovulation and menstrual cycles, deficiency (common) might lead to disrupted sleep and depression.
Magnesium: aids nervous system and sleep, regulates stress, anti-inflammatory, helps estrogen levels and menstrual health in women, aids recovery.
Zinc: anti-inflammatory, aids immune system, vital for thyroid function, regulates hormone levels, aids skin/acne
B Vitamins: supports energy, metabolism, mood, and hormone balance
Question 11: What is a deload?
Answer: A deload, or ‘deload week’ is essentially a stress management tool. For example, if you’ve been training for 6-10 weeks consistently, and progressing it would be wise to add in a week of lighter loads, and some reduced training volume to give your body a chance to fully recover. Usually we make the most progress in a deload week because when we’re training consistently we’re accumulating quite a bit of stress that although we’re recovering from enough to continue, we’re not recovering as ideal as we could. Deloads can be pre-programmed (after 6-10 weeks of training), or intuitive. Meaning if you’re feeling achy, sore, stressed, stagnating progress-wise, and sleep isn’t great, throw one in. Don’t overthink if you need one; if you’re a consistent trainee don’t miss this underutilized tool. Deloading from volume but keeping load (maintaining weight, but reducing reps/sets) can be great if you’re mostly focused on strength. Deloading from load but keeping volume (less total weight used, keeping about the same amount of reps and sets) can be more beneficial if you’re focused mostly on muscle size or endurance. For general population people I usually do a bit of both!
Question 12: Do I need pre-workout?
Answer: Need? No. Might it be beneficial? Yes. Understand the major performer in pre-workout supplements is the caffeine, the most widely studied drug/supplement of all time. It works, so get some caffeine (50-200mg based on tolerance and preference) prior to training (minimal for evening exercise) for benefits. If you like coffee, have coffee. If you’re into energy drinks, grab one. If you’re curious about specific exercise-tailored pre-workouts, give it a shot. Realize you don’t need anything but to go train and be consistent. If this supplement is a tool to aid your ability to do that, it might benefit you. Just be honest with you.
Question 13: Should I be doing cardio?
Answer: This depends on your goals. If your goals include “running a marathon,” or “rowing on the weekends with your college team” then yeah, definitely. In regards to most people aiming to look and feel better, be healthier, and get stronger, you don’t need it to be the main priority. We tend to place a lot of value on cardio because it’s instant gratification, however it can often hinder our results. Track your steps and aim for 10k/day (basic guideline), and/or 1-3hrs lower intensity cardio weekly. I prefer to focus on walking for that, or a sport of your preference. If you’re looking to lose fat and weight, it’s not mandatory. We want the majority of work done by the diet, but you can begin to implement cardio to aid your calorie expenditure so that you don’t have to go lower in calories!