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Knowledge Gains: 5 FAQs About Nutrition

1. CAN YOU EAT TOO MUCH PROTEIN?

If you’d like a short answer, yes. If you’d like to know why; your body only requires a certain amount of protein. This amount is dependent on the individuals LBM; Ideally you should aim to consume 1g of protein per 1lb of LBM (in lbs.), meaning that a person weighing 200lbs with 30% body fat would have a LBM of 140, meaning they should aim to eat 140g of protein per day.

If an individual ate excessively more than the amount they required, the protein would not be converted into muscle; instead it would be expended as energy or converted to fat if the total calorie surplus was too high.

2. HOW MANY CALORIES DO I NEED TO EXPEND TO LOSE FAT?

Fat loss is achievable at a rate of 1lb per week or less. Any weight loss above this rate is likely to come from muscle instead of fat, which is definitely not ideal.

1lb of fat can be burned through a deficit of 3500 calories; meaning that if you expend 500 calories every day for a week, (500*7) you’ll have expended 3500 calories, e.g. 1lb of fat.

It’s best to begin with a smaller deficit, such as 200kcals. This is because if you begin on a high deficit you’ll leave yourself for no room to deduct further calories once you hit a plateau (and you will eventually). This is one of the main reasons why so many people quit attempting to lose fat.

Tip: If you expend 750 calories via physical activity each day, you’ll have burned enough calories to add an extra 250 calories to your nutrition plan and still be in a deficit of 500 calories. So, if you exercise more… you can eat more… and still lose fat.

3. HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD I CONSUME TO BUILD MUSCLE?

The trick with muscle gaining is to not start with a high surplus. The amount of muscle you can gain will be dependent on the number of years you’ve been training and the amount of muscle already on your frame. Start off by just adding a surplus of 100kcals per day; use that surplus and check your weight on the same day, at the same time, the next week and the week after. If your weight hasn’t moved, then simply eat an additional 100kcals per day (200 in total) and repeat the process.

It’s important that you also check your progress in the mirror; the scales aren’t always the most accurate form of measurement, as you can gain weight but lose body fat (due to muscle gain). Or, use a method of body fat testing to review your progress.

In terms of where you should gather your surplus calories from; increase only the carbohydrates. You should already be consuming enough protein and fats.

4. CAN I DRINK ALCOHOL AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT?

First of all, alcohol, especially in excess, has been shown to be detrimental to muscle gain and performance in the gym. If you’re looking to improve your strength or build muscle, then alcohol really isn’t a good idea. Alcohol actually reduces muscle protein synthesis by 20%. Not to mention that the next day, you’re likely to be dehydrated and skip out on the gym; thus decreasing your total volume of exercise and inhibiting your potential for results.

However, alcohol has a caloric value of 7… which means you CAN calculate how many calories you take in from alcohol, and therefore could prevent yourself from reaching a caloric surplus; which means you won’t gain any weight and you could continue to lose weight. What we must mention is that alcohol contains empty calories and will in no way improve your performance; if you are in a surplus of calories through drinking alcohol you’ll simply gain fat.

If you’d like to factor in a couple of drinks to celebrate an event… you can calculate your total calories for the day, save some and then factor in the calories you’ll consume through alcohol in order to maintain a deficit, that way when you get back to training and eating usually again, you won’t have gone too far off track. When doing this you should stick to low calorie drinks, such as spirits with zero-calorie mixers.

5. DOES IT MATTER WHETHER I GATHER MY CARBOHYDRATES THROUGH SIMPLE CARBS (SUGARS) OR COMPLEX CARBS?

At the end of the day, "calories in vs calories out" will always be the main determent of whether you lose weight or gain weight. So, if you eat in a surplus using just sugary foods rather than complex sources to gather your carbohydrates, you could end up with the same results. However, doing so could lead to other health issues due to the high sugar intake such as potential liver damage; especially if your body fat percentage is already high.

For those with a low body fat percentage of sub 15%; acquiring carbohydrates from sugars will be less detrimental towards general health. However, it’s still advisable to consume as little as possible.

Using the 80-20 approach is an appropriate way to monitor your sugar intake. 80% of the total carbohydrate you consume should come from complex sources, and the other 20% can come from sugars.

- The Letterbox Gains Team