A summary of important nutritional parameters
It is time to turn our attention to the controversial topic of nutrition. My goal is to simplify the plethora of incorrect information that exists and distill it into a few concerns and guidelines. In part one I will summarize the very few important parameters of nutrition. In part two we will discuss protein synthesis. In part three we will create a nutrition plan for a hypothetical athlete. Finally in part four we will discuss methods of adapting the plan for a specific athlete.
When it comes to athletic development, only a small number of nutritional parameters have importance. The two most important parameters are overall caloric balance and macronutrient composition. Of secondary importance are meal timing, food quality, and supplementation.
Caloric balance is the most important of all parameters to be addressed. When in a caloric deficit, weight loss will occur. When in a caloric surplus, weight gain will occur. Do not overcomplicate this, this is rule. Diet is the largest factor in calorie balance. Basal metabolic rate, or the amount of energy the body burns at rest, is the second most important. Caloric expenditure due to activity is third. Diet is adjusted based on food choices and portion sizes. Basal metabolic rate is improved and retained through metabolically active muscle tissue. Expending additional calories is usually achieved through resistance training, steady state cardio sessions, and high intensity interval training.
Differing levels of macronutrients influence protein synthesis, hormonal levels, satiety, food reward, insulin responsiveness and more. Macronutrients are a measure of the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in a given diet.
* Essential for protein synthesis (muscle building), and maintenance of muscle tissue.
* Provide satiety (fullness)
* Optimally consumed evenly throughout the day
* A direct and easily usable source of energy
* Provide a significant food reward
* Best consumed around and during periods of activity
* A long acting source of energy
* Provide satiety. Often considered highly palatable (easy to eat)
* Optimally consumed away from periods of activity
Adjusting the template to the athlete
In part four we discussed converting repetitions in reserve into percentage based programming. In part five, the final installment of the series, we will discuss how to adjust the program for the individual athlete.
Every athlete, although similar, is a little bit different. Athletes also get stronger or weaker over time depending on training and circumstances. Athletes inevitably will require adjustment to their strength programming and it makes more sense to make small adjustments to an established working template as opposed to recreating an entirely new program each time. This article will focus on making small adjustments to an established template.
Before any adjustments are made we must first ask is the athlete progressing optimally? If the answer is yes, then why consider making an adjustment at all?! If the answer is no then adjustment is a consideration. We are going to assume our athlete is no longer progressing optimally and begin with a series of questions that require addressing.
Why is the athlete not progressing optimally?
What are they doing the other twenty three hours of the day? The other twenty three hours of the day not spent in the gym are extremely important for the athlete. Are they eating enough? Are they resting enough? Are they stressed out? The best way to address this is to encourage and support the athlete to improve this period of time away from training. I cannot even count the number of athletes that fail to progress as scheduled only to find out they started some new diet without notification and are in a caloric deficit. Once they begin eating adequately again, progress resumes without any further modification. If the athlete is unable or unwilling to adjust then they will have to be treated as someone who is not adequately recovering which we will discuss.
Is there a technical flaw that is hindering improvement? Whenever there is an issue many people are quick to look for the one thing they are not doing. My squats are going poorly; perhaps I need to do more hamstring curls! When the reality is that the athlete’s squats are of inadequate depth and the fundamentals are not being properly prioritized. Always insure that the fundamentals are being performed soundly before looking for any other way to address the issue at hand.
If we can identify that the athlete is properly managing their home life and the fundamentals of movement are sound, we possibly have a programming issue. To address our programming problem we must ask; is the athlete doing enough work to create the necessary stimulus for adaptation, or is the athlete doing too much work and not adequately recovering? Review part one if you are unfamiliar with General Adaptation Syndrome. If we are doing too little work we must add work, too much and we take away.
An athlete performing too little work will often have little to no soreness. They will feel like they could have done more. Sometimes they may add extra accessories that were not programmed in. The athlete will most often just simply plateau.
An athlete that is performing too much work will often be quite sore. The athlete may report skipping certain movements. They may not be sleeping well or have little to no appetite. At first they will plateau but eventually they may begin regressing in ability.
Let’s assume that we have identified that we indeed have a programming issue of either too much or too little work. As you may recall our sample program looks like this.
On the back of every coaching t-shirt is the phrase “we rise by lifting others.” This speaks to the very heart of what Stanton Strength wishes to accomplish. I want every single one of my athletes to surpass me and my ability in every way. I want you to outlift me, I want you to outwork me, I want you to be a better a coach, and I want you to be a better person then I can ever be. I will do everything in my power to support you in that journey. With that said I will not make this easy on you. I work to improve every single day and I expect nothing less from you.
We Rise Together