I ASKED THE PROFFESIONAL:
When writing nutrition plans, I talk a lot about calories and more specifically your macros. What the heck are those? Short for macro-nutrients, 'macros' refer to your protein, carbs and fats - that is it! Essentially you are already on a macro diet. Everything you eat is compromised of some combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. I asked a professional in the field, Mike Gorski of MG Fit Life, registered dietitian and certified trainer to give his professional perspective to understand how our diet might affect our results in a health and fitness journey. Enjoy the interview below!
As a dietitian, what is the number one question you get asked about nutrition and how do you answer?
“How do I lose weight?” is for sure the biggest question. I usually answer with about 10 questions of my own, and it all depends on where the person is currently at in regards to many varying aspects. It eventually comes down to a simple answer - but simple does not equal easy, as their are usually multiple layers of challenges and “issues” that may need to be addressed before we even start talking about actual food.
Carbs vs fat. What's the deal? Is one better than the other? For people trying to get leaner, is low carb better or low fat?
This is a hot button topic, and always will be. Neither one is better nor worse than the other - they are just two different macronutrients along with protein, and all three are very important, some maybe more than others depending on your current goals. Neither low carb or low fat is universally better than the other for leaning out, it really does become an individual thing based on the person, their personal preferences, and how they feel and relate to different foods.
Some people lean out great on low fat diets because they tend to handle carbs better, and some lean out on low carb diets because they handle fats better. It’s all about finding what works for the individual - and tweaking from there.
When it comes down to LOOKING super lean, there are ways to manipulate various macronutrients to deplete water, glycogen, etc...but that usually is the last step in someone's personal goal - which many people might not even be looking for.
3- Are carbs created equal? Why would a person choose one carb over another? Example, candy vs fruit or bread bowl vs brown rice?
Calorie wise - yes. All carbs are equal. All carbs are 4 calories per gram - no matter what. Where they vary is not in their energy value, but in their psychological affect. What sounds better to most people: 20 grams from chocolate or 20 grams of carbs from broccoli?
Because of this, it is much easier to overindulge on snack like carbs - also because they are often combined with salt or fat, which makes them hyper rewarding (stimulating the reward centers of the brain) and hyperpalatable (aka super delicious).
Less processed carbs (fruits, veggies, whole grains…) are also going to contain more fiber, which helps with satiety and maintaining bowel regularity.
The obvious answer here - stick to the unprocessed, whole food carbs as much as possible - but the occasional sweet treat won’t do harm.
What about protein? Are certain protein sources better than others?
Animal based protein sources (meat, milk, eggs) are more bioavailable than plant forms. This means that more of the protein’s amino acids are utilized by the body. Plant proteins sources are awesome, but they definitely need to be mixed and matched because different sources are low in different amino acids - which makes them an incomplete protein source. Along with that, many plant forms of protein are also higher in carbs - so one needs to be aware of this if they are trying to follow specific macronutrient goals.
Multiple small meals a day or 3 big ones?
Whatever works best for the person. Studies have shown that whether you eat as little as 2 or as much as 16 meals per day, as long as calories are equal - there is no difference. Old school methodology used to say that small frequent meals keeps your metabolic rate elevated more - but your spike in metabolism is all dose dependent. So if you eat 6 small meals, you metabolic rate increases 6 times to match your quantity of you food. If you eat 3 larger meals, your metabolic rate spikes 3 times, but at a higher rate, to match the higher quantity of food. At the end of the day, it all equals out.
Top food you advise your clients to avoid (or highly moderate)?
Alcohol (BUZZKILL!). Don’t get me wrong, I love a good drink or 4… but it’s usually a downward spiral when it comes to drinking. First you indulge on hundreds, if not thousands, of extra calories from your drinks, then you decide to hit the late night greasy food joints, and the next day you reach for your favorite greasy comfort food. It’s not the alcohol itself that is fully the issue - but the decisions (PSA: not just food related) that you make because of the alcohol that end up derailing an entire weekend, or longer.
On that note, what are your top 3 healthy staple foods:
Any veggies at every meal.
Any protein at every meal.
Water at every meal. (I know water isn’t a food, but it’s often forgotten)
I firmly believe these three are very hard to have too much of, unless you are making a very conscious effort.
Any other piece of nutrition advice you will impart on us?
Don’t buy into quick fixes. They “work” until they don’t. Yes, you might lose weight really fast in 4 weeks by following the hottest fad diet, but what happens after 4 weeks?
Weight loss supplements don’t work like they will claim - if they did, I would be selling them.
When it comes to trying to lose weight especially, cut yourself some slack. You are human. You are not a robot. Mistakes, slip ups, and other things happen. It’s normal, and it’s okay.
Food and your scale don’t carry morals. No food is good nor bad. What your scale says doesn’t make you a good or bad person. Food is food, and your scale tells you what your body weighs at that exact point in time - that is all.