The Strong Figure Most Commonly Asked Nutrition Questions….ANSWERED.
Here’s the cut and dry for those of you who need to get in, get out, and move on about your day. For the rest of you who need supporting research, everything is in our book, THFM.
What do I need to eat to lose weight?
Lots of protein and veggies. Eat a few berries, nuts, and seeds, minimal grains and preferably only around your workout–food needs to be fuel for the body. Treats should be eaten sparingly and again, only after your workouts when your muscles can handle them.
But how many calories should I be eating?
Probably more than you think–especially if you’re training. There’s no one size fits all answer, so you’ll have to refer to our post, How Many Calories Do You Really Need?
How much protein should I eat?
A general rule of thumb is that 30% of your calories should be from protein. If you’re lifting heavy weight, .8 to 1.0 gram of protein per body weight is optimal. For a more precise calculation of daily protein grams per your specific goals, read our post, How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
That’s a lot of protein. How in the world do I eat that much protein?
Aim for 20-25 grams of protein per every meal and snack. A chicken breast, a salmon filet, a steak, a bowl of cottage cheese, a post workout protein shake, a casein shake before bed….that’s at least 135 grams right there. Add in the extra protein found in other “non-traditional” protein sources like oats, peanut butter, and beans–you can easily hit 150 grams before you know it.
Won’t too much protein make me bigger?
Um, no. Protein helps you build lean muscle and lean muscle burns fat. Even if you ate a crazy amount of protein, it’s almost impossible to gain weight strictly from protein. You would need an excess of calories–especially from carbs and fats. Protein helps give people the “toned” look because of its ability to preserve one’s muscle mass, especially while dropping fat.
What kind of protein powder should I buy?
After spending over 10 years testing various protein powders, I have found three different kinds that I HIGHLY recommend:
- Dymatize ISO 100 (I use in the morning to avoid insulin spikes)
- Muscletech’s Anabolic Halo (I use both during and after training)
- Dymatize Elite Casein (I take at night before bed) and Optimum Casein is also a high quality product.
What about dairy. Is it good or bad for you?
Some people can’t handle dairy. If you’re one, don’t eat it. Others handle it just fine. If you love dairy and would rather not give it up, buy a hormone and antibiotic-free organic brand. Stick to 1-2 servings per day. I personally love cottage cheese because it’s high in protein and easily mixable with other foods. I also have a slight obsession with Parmesan.
How much fat should I eat?
30% of your calories should come from fat. If you want a more precise number, visit our THFM workbook, found here.
What kind of fat should I eat? Isn’t fat bad?
Only trans-fats are bad–the fats made to keep food on shelves for years. Fats from animals, nuts, avocados, and dairy are GREAT. Egg yolks are awesome. Red meat is incredible and full of nutrients hard to get from other foods. A diet too high in carbohydrates, sugars, sodas, and processed foods are the leading causes of heart diesease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, some cancers, and bad cholesterol. NOT saturated fat. So eat your fats and watch your portion sizes when you do. (They are, after all, higher in calories than other macronutrients. You still need them, just not as many.)
When is the best time to eat fats? If you work out in the evening, eat fats for breakfast, lunch, and your morning snacks. If you work out in the morning, save your fats for lunch, dinner, and evening snacks. Don’t eat fat for at least 1-3 hours after your workout.
Do you participate in “Meatless Mondays”? No.
How many carbs should I eat?
Simple answer? 40% of your total calories and then at least 80% of those carbs should be from veggie sources. To get a more precise calculations of YOUR specific macronutrient makeup, our THFM workbook presents the calculations needed to figure out exactly the number that’s best for you.
What are the best carbs?
The best carbs are veggies, specifically green leafy veggies–number one. Then starchier carbs like sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini follow up. Next up are berries and then fruit, whole grains, and even the carbs from nut sources. Last are your white flour foods, desserts, and pastries/cereals/processed foods.
Does it matter when I eat my carbs?
YES. If you’re exercising properly (lifting weights and performing interval cardio) then you need to eat 50-60% of your carbs before, during, and after your training. Have the veggies and whole grains before training, and you can get away with your fruit and any other simple carbs (white flour, white potato, even desserts) during and after your training. Avoid the simple carbs during all other times of day.
What about other supplements, vitamins, and minerals?
Multivitamins are great for general health but we highly recommend taking a supergreens powder such as Amazing Grass Chocolate Flavored Superfood
We also recommend fish oil or krill oil paired with vitamin E, Vitamin D, and Glucosamine.
Is salt bad for you?
No, not really, if you don’t over do it. And it may even be necessary to replace lost sodium after an intense workout. Stick to what you’re used to and just make sure you’re staying properly hydrated.
Speaking of hydration, how much water should you drink?
Half your bodyweight in ounces or 5 oz of water per every 100 calories you eat.
I’ve heard you talk about “Drip Drop” for hydration. What’s that?
It’s a medical grade hydration powder that I like a LOT. Simply it’s like an IV in powder form that tastes amazing. It’s not an everyday hydration supplement though–it’s meant for recovering from extreme workouts, illness, or long trips/flights. And crazy wedding receptions. Disclaimer: Stephanie is an ambassador for DripDrop but does not directly benefit from you purchasing DripDrop. She is an ambassador because it is a GREAT product.
I use My Fitness Pal. When I’m logging numbers, do I log measurements for cooked or uncooked pasta, rice, and meats?
Measure your pasta and rice after it’s cooked. Simply type in “½ cup cooked whole grain pasta.” For meats, just be consistent. Look it up in My Fitness Pal–its data base is ginormous. Type in “4 ounces uncooked chicken breast” or weigh your chicken when you’re finished cooking and type in 3 ounces cooked chicken breast. Really, it’s simple. The hardest part is realizing that 4 ounces of uncooked chicken breast will turn into about 3 ounces cooked chicken breast. PS–Calculate your own macronutrient numbers. If you consistently use MFP, it’s worth paying for the subscription. Do NOT let MFP calculate your numbers or you’ll end up under-eating and trying to reverse horrible metabolic damage.
Can I eat foods that are NOT found on the Strongfigure shopping list?
Of course. We list our favorites, the basics, and the staples on our list. We also don’t believe in restricting any food. Can you eat cauliflower and broccoli every single day? Yes. Can you eat ice cream every single day? Not unless you are genetically superior. But can you have ice cream every now and then? Yes. Work it into your daily allowance of calories.
Is caffeine or diet soda ok to drink?
I love caffeine. See my special “Coffee Protein Shake” recipe in the THFM. I drink it black, I have my coffee shake, and I also have iced coffee before my afternoon workouts. I will sometimes add full fat cream and coconut oil, but never sugar or fake creamers. Don’t drink diet sodas. They contain fake sugars linked to obesity and some cancers.
What kind of seasonings are ok to use?
Any of them, in my opinion. I’m partial to Montreal Steak Seasoning, Montreal Chicken Seasoning, Old Bay, Greek seasonings, cinnamon, and anything hot and spicy! If it has more than 20 calories though, be cautious to not overdo it. Never be shy with herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, dill, cilantro, etc. They can turn a boring meal into a fabulous one.
What about “cheat meals?”
Cheat meals typically make people go overboard with eating. If you treat yourself regularly (have one small cookie post training every time you workout) you won’t tend to binge on pizza, brownies, and root beer floats all in one sitting because you restricted yourself for too long. Sure, if it’s your birthday, you should eat whatever you want. If it’s Thanksgiving dinner, eat whatever you want. But don’t think of every weekend as a binge day and stop trying to eliminate all “bad foods” all the time. Make good choices 90% of the time and you’ll be fine.
What if I screw up. Should I eat less the following day?
Eat like normal. Get over it, move on, forgive yourself, and go right back to where you left off.
I’m on the go all the time. I don’t have time to plan my meals for the day.
Food prep the day before or that Sunday for the week. Plan at least 3-5 lunches, dinners, and snacks. Make a smoothie before you leave for work, take veggies, hummus, fruit and nuts, Greek yogurt, and hard boiled eggs for snacks. Keep protein powder on hand for a quick shake.
So I’ve calculated my numbers and they are much higher than I’m used to eating. How do I start reaching them?
Add 100 calories per week/every other week until you reach these numbers.
Won’t I get fat from increasing?
Not if you take your increases slowly enough and give your body time to adjust to each phase. You may even lose weight if you have been restricting too many calories for too long.
But I already struggle to lose fat. I’ve been stuck at this weight for two years. Isn’t increasing only going to make this worse?
You just said you can’t lose fat. What’s the worst that can happen? You can’t lose it because you aren’t feeding your body what it needs to work!! Stop starving it and making it store food! Freakin’ eat!
I’ve calculated my numbers and they are much lower than I’m used to eating. What do I do?
It’s really common to be a smaller person, typically a younger female, in the 115-125 lb range who has a great metabolism who can eat a lot more than other females. If you calcuate 1450 calories but you’re used to 1850 calories and you’re happy, energetic, lifting well, and making #gainz, KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING! You don’t need my help!
I have 50+ pounds to lose. How am I supposed to calculate numbers for this?
You have a few options: calculate by plugging in the weight you want to be, OR subtract 50 lbs from your current weight and go off these numbers. Third–you could just try switching food choices and eat a high protein/high fat diet for a while until you’ve dropped several pounds. High protein/high fat/low carb will work quickly for most people but many can’t handle this long term.
Once I’ve calculated my macronutrient numbers, how long do I stay here?
At least two weeks to ensure maintenance…meaning your weight stops fluctuating and your energy is great.
How do I gain strength, muscle, and/or size?
Add 10% to your macronutrient calculations each week until you have reached your goal.
How do I drop fat while maintaining muscle?
Subtract 10% of your calories from carbs and fats. Keep your protein number the same. OR add more interval training to your workouts. Personally, I’d rather eat the same and workout harder.
I’m cutting, and I’m hungry. What do I do?
Have a refeed day on or before a heavy lifting day at the gym. Eat 50 grams more carbs than usual. Don’t do this too often–only when you feel your body truly needs it. You’ll know.
I don’t workout/lift weights.
Start. You need muscle mass, bone density, and great health so you can grow older with dignity. Seriously though? Your diet needs to be spot on if you’re not exercising. Rarely can you enjoy many treats and get away with it if not exercising.
I have more questions. Where do I go now?
Visit our FAQ page on our site COMING SOON or contact us here.