First off, I want to say how blown away I am from the response and feedback I have gotten from my last post “How Donuts Gave Me Abs…”. When I wrote it, my intentions were to open eyes and show people that we, as a fitness community, have become closed minded with how we approach food. We have almost become cult-like (its funny, isn’t that what the “haters” tell us too?!) The truth is that most of us don’t actually know any better. We look at top level athletes in amazing shape and think they are walking around eating nothing but plain, grilled chicken and tilapia and mounds of broccoli and have no life when it comes to food. We hear our coaches talk about “clean eating” and “whole 30” and “grain and gluten-free” and know no other way, so we cling to the idea and become depressed and think it is something we have done wrong when it doesn’t work for us. We hold steadfast to this nutrition idea because we want so badly to succeed. We think the sluggish, “stuck in the mud” (you don’t know how many emails I received with that description!) feeling during workouts must be something wrong with us, not with the way we are fueling our body. We are doing what they tell us!
My point in writing this follow-up is for a few reasons:
1) A Thank You. The feedback I received has been overwhelming – 40-50 emails or facebook messages a day, for the past two months. It gets to be a little much at times, but to be honest, I love it. I feel blessed and I get choked up a lot when I think about it. God blessed me with athletic abilities and some weird form of social media notoriety because of it. Somehow, I was able to be in the position where I could reach so many people with a simple blog piece. The support and kind words have not been overlooked, AT ALL. I have read every single email all the way through that has been sent to me, and it is still unreal that I have had this impact on people as well as just the sheer number of people I have managed to reach. I have found a new daily inspiration in all of you and I cannot thank you enough for all the support. Humans are a codependent species – this has proved that to me in such a vivid way it is unbelievable.
2) All the gushy stuff being said – I feel bad when I can’t get through all the emails in a timely manner and for this, I both apologize and have decided to do an FAQ as an initial reference point. I go through so many emails with the same questions or concerns over and over. Funny thing is, when people ask me questions or make statements, I often get the impression that they think they are a weird person for it, or very different from everyone else in a bad way like there is something wrong with them. I laugh because a lot of people are facing the same issues or having the same questions and I feel like we should all hug and have a group therapy session – so yes, I am writing a group therapy FAQ piece. ☺
3) Lastly, this has grown into a business for me. As any person who is involved in a business knows, not every person needs the same type of services. Options are always a must. At the end of this post, I will include a link to options as to how we can work together if that is something you are looking for. The options will vary in price and service offered. But I think it will be an easier way for me to reach and inform a larger number of people!
1. How can I find more information on Flexible Dieting?
How do I determine my own macros?
How did you determine your macros?
What macro calculator did you use?
Okay – the answer to all of these questions is one in the same. The best way I can get you the most detailed information at the cheapest cost is to direct you to Krissy Mae’s PDF file “FD 2.0” – use code “OUTLAW” when purchasing (https://gumroad.com/kmaecags). In here, she offers a system of calculation that I love and trust. It was what I used as a reference when I first started working with my coach… you can purchase it through there and learn a little bit more about this approach on eating for performance. It is the calculator I use when working with my clients as well and I feel it gives you the best suggestion for setting your numbers.
2. I went on IIFYM.com and found these numbers, they seem crazy, should I use them?!
Most numbers that I have seen people show me from IIFYM.com have made no sense to me. Before you think I am knocking the website let me say that I have played around with it quite a bit and it is not the websites fault. Most people are not accurate with their activity level, body weight, body fat, or some other variable that severely throws off the calculations. In most cases, people who exercise (especially CrossFitter for some reason) think they are burning this absurd amount of calories and need to eat sooooo much food because of it. Most times, that is not the case. Sorry guys, you are not Michael Phelps. Also, there are a ton of questions and options the IIFYM website asks for – if you are new at the whole macro counting thing, it is hard for you to recognize what option makes the most sense for you to follow. My answer is don’t use the website unless you have experience with counting macros in the past with a coach. Find yourself a coach (or read the PDF from response 1) and educate yourself a bit before revisiting the website.
3. What app do you use to record your food each day?
I use My Fitness Pal to record my food daily. It was the one I was originally introduced to and the one I am most familiar and comfortable with. I have had reports back from clients about other apps that they love. I think this one relies on personal preference. It doesn’t matter what app you use to record, simply that you pick one, become very familiar with it, and use it!
4. I am not as active as you, will this still work for me?
Yes it will! Activity level is simply factored into your numbers when a coach creates them. So, depending on your activity level, your numbers will be tweaked and adjusted. This still means that you will get to have any kind of food you like as long as it fits into your numbers. What this means is where someone who is extremely active may be able to fit a doughnut into their diet daily because their numbers would allow for it, you may need to make it a special, occasional treat where you save up some of your numbers one day in order to make it fit. In any case, yes, flexible dieting will work for you also!
5. The numbers you gave me leave me with SO MANY carbs! How do you expect me to eat them all?
What are other good sources of carbs? It is really hard to fill my numbers up with vegetables!
Learn to love and accept carbs, people! I know paleo, whole30, and whatever else blah blah blah you have been brainwashed by has told you that every carb (besides sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash of course!) is the devil and that all humans are gluten intolerant and will drop dead the second a grain or a morsel of sugar touches their lips – but I am here, as your carb angel, to tell you that is not true. If you are fairly active, and your numbers are correctly set, chances are it is going to be very hard for you to fill up all your carbs using only broccoli, peppers, and sweet potatoes. Begin to get comfortable with the idea that grains aren’t the devil. Foods like oatmeal, bread, cereals, rice cakes, rice, potatoes, fruits, ice creams, yogurts, cookies, and of course doughnuts will not 1) make you drop dead and 2) make you a bad exerciser. Of course, everything in moderation (which is why you are counting macros in the first place) so don’t use all your allotted carbs on the pint of ice cream, but you most definitely should experience it’s joys now and then! I promise Rich eats ice cream.
6. I am hitting my daily macro goal, but the calories are not matching up, what am I doing wrong?
Nothing, MFP is wrong. Just keep hitting your macro goals. This usually happens if an item gets originally inputted wrong and the macros/calories don’t add up. Often times, product labels round up if something is not a whole number so the calories can be off (sometimes up to about 10 cals!). One little trickster in this issue is fiber. Fiber is one of those things that only “counts” depending on who you ask because it is technically a “non-impact” source of calories – yet, it is still a carb. Alcohol is the other trickster. I am sure you have heard alcohol is “empty calories” meaning it often will be recorded in the app as calories without a macro content, which will throw off your matching. Just hit your macro goals daily and disregard what the calories tell you – while avoiding alcohol as much as possible.
7. I can’t seem to hit my protein without going over on my fat. What am I doing wrong?
So this is one that is a lot more common than I would have expected. Often, I find the problem is rooted in one main area. People switching from a “paleo-ish” mindset are used to having so many fats in their diets because of the lack of availability of carbs as an energy source. Things like avocados, nuts, nut oils/ butters/milks, coconut oil/milk/cream are staples in their diets, mainly because that’s what paleo tells us. Because of this, a lot of fat is used up in these areas. Then, paleo tell us eggs bacon and “grass fed” beef is good – so we all eat 4 (or more) eggs and a pound of bacon for breakfast each day. This leaves little room for fats that often accompany proteins throughout the rest of the day– leaving people in a great macro conundrum! HELP! My answer is to first, take unnecessary fats out of your diet. Also, switch your protein sources to options that carry little fats (for example: a breakfast containing 2 eggs + 6 Tbsp of egg whites instead of having 4 eggs). Foods such as lean meats (white meat chicken and turkey), egg whites, fat-free yogurts, cheeses, and other dairies will help this issue.
8. Do I count my vegetables as carbs?
Yes, of course. All foods must be counted. All foods are made up of one of the three macronutrient categories in some type of proportion. “Vegetables” isn’t a macronutrient, silly.
9. Should I balance my macros evenly at each meal?
Nope. There is no need to go through all this trouble. If you are asking this question you have most likely done some version of zone dieting in the past and it has made you super aware of balancing macros at each meal. Is it a bad thing? Of course not. In fact, most days I find myself doing it accidentally because a balanced meal is usually the most delicious and satisfying. However, it is not necessary or mandatory. Eat as you please daily, just make sure to hit your numbers by midnight!
10. What kind of supplements do you take?
When I hear “supplements”, I interpret it to mean “anything that I intake that is not a food or beverage”. So, here is my long list of “supplements”: 1) a multivitamin, 2) probiotic capsules (I have an awful stomach and it gets unruly easily), 3) Lurong Living when I am unusually sore, 4) Jaktrx (www.jaktrx.com) protein powder added to my cooking and baking or if I am in a rush and need quick protein on the go. So no, I do not take any “pre WOD!”, any “super awesome amazing jet fuel powder”, or drink 2-3 protein shakes a day. I eat my food and I do my best to eat a diet balanced in all sorts of variations of vitamins and micronutrients to keep me feeling good.
11. How do I calculate and record food when going out to eat or with foods that have no nutrition information provided?
This is a very common question. Not sure why I am waiting until #11 to answer it, but here it is. When going out to eat. my best advice is to order as basic as possible off the menu and estimate it into your MFP app by searching the food and then using similar options from the database. For ease purposes, a protein cooked a simple way with minimal sauces, a vegetable that is steamed or grilled, and a non-fried carb source such as rice, potato, plantains, or yucca (yes, that was for you Clyde). The more “normal” and “basic” you keep it the easier it will be to record. I always get this question with doughnuts. The latest craze of doughnuts and cupcakes has brought us an amazing surplus of “designer doughnut/cupcake shops”. When I go to such shops, I usually pick a comparable option in MFP like an entry from Dunkin’ Donuts. Will I be exact? No. But I will definitely be close enough to where it won’t completely throw my macros off for the day.
12. I made [insert delicious homemade meal here] but don’t know how to record it in my app ☹, what now?!
Luckily, the brilliant creator of MFP made a handy little “recipes” tab that you can get to on the screen you use when you “+” a food. It will be at the top right. When you click on this, it will ask you to name your creation and then will ask you for the number of servings. You will then have to input all of the ingredients you used and the amount you used (for the entire recipe). The food will then be saved in the Recipes database on your app. When you chose it to add to your daily food log, it will divide it by the number of servings you said were in the dish. Easy peasy!
13. Do I care about sodium and cholesterol for my daily goals?
Essentially, no. I don’t mean they are not important. I mean, unless you have a diagnosed medical issue affected by one of them, or are eating highly processed and fast foods for the majority of your nutrient consumption, they are likely of no danger to you. Stick to freshly prepared and high-quality foods for the majority of your meals, and drink plenty of water daily and I promise you won’t have an issue with sodium nor cholesterol.
14. What about fiber? What about sugar?
These are two separate questions, but I combined them because they go hand in hand. Both are part of the carbohydrate macro category and both are discussed frequently when it comes to nutrition. Let’s start with fiber. Fiber is a highly talked about subcategory in macro counting. It is a carb and counts as a carb. I get asked a lot about subtracting fiber from overall carbs, NO CHEATERS, it is a carb! ☺ As far as daily recommendations go, the rule of thumb is that females need about 20g a day and males about 30g to be on the safe side. Fiber helps with slowing digestion (keeping you full) and decreasing cholesterol in the blood. The best forms of fiber come from fruit and vegetables so be sure to keep those in your diet as much as possible! On the other hand, we have sugar, often, if something contains lots of sugar it contains lower percentages of fiber. I get asked all the time if sugar matters in counting macros. I always answer “no, but try to keep your sugars stacked around your workouts in order to fuel your best”. Understand that a balance between natural sugars (like fruit) and processed sugars (like cookies) are essential – in other words like your grandmother taught you with money – don’t use all your carbs in one place!
15. I’ve hit my numbers all week, can I have a doughnut tomorrow? It fits my numbers!
Flexible Dieting isn’t a system of rewarding behaviors. We don’t have “cheat days”. Cheating implies you are doing something wrong. When we are eating we should never be in the mental state that we are doing a devious thing. Krissy Mae says it in a perfect way, “there are no bad foods, just bad portions”. So, no, you cannot have a doughnut because you hit your numbers all week. You can have a doughnut because you can make it fit into your macros today.
16. How close do I have to be to my macro goals every day?
Ideally, you want to hit them exactly. This won’t happen that often, at least not in the beginning. However, the first time you do this, you will feel like you just won the Super Bowl. You will most likely screenshot it, send it to all your other macro nerd buddies, as well as post it on Instagram in one of those fancy picture collages along with some of your pretty meals from the day to show off. (No! I’ve never done that! I just see all the other weird people do that………….. ) Ok, for real – I always tell my clients that they should be within 3g +/- of every macro every day. There are enough foods out there for you to get this accurate if you are diligently paying attention to your numbers and what you are eating, this should not be that difficult once you are a few days in. If you are constantly running into an issue you may want to seek the help of a coach or someone with experience counting macros.
17. I was completely off with my numbers today, now I feel like a total failure and am totally guilty. Also, am I going to wake up 10lbs heavier tomorrow?!
Okay – this is an exaggeration of a question but I get dramatic variations of this often. No, you are fine. Just get back on your numbers tomorrow. Flexible dieting is a method of “biohacking” where we set your body to know and understand how to process the food that we provide for it. Because of this, your body becomes able to deal with an incredibly off day and bounce right back to normal functioning and processing. These “off” days that happen actually affect us more mentally than physically. However, do not get into a habit of this. Keep these wacky days to a minimum and you will have the best success. The one mistake I hear all the time is “I had a really off day yesterday so I just ate chicken and broccoli all day today”. Well, guess what, now you just had two really off days in a row. DON’T DO THAT! Just get back to your normal numbers the next day. Do not try and “make up for” the day before.
18. Can you provide me with some recipes or food ideas?
Sure thing! Most times I make things up on the fly or make meals based on what I feel like I am craving at that day and time. When I make something (that I feel) is noteworthy, I post it on my Instagram food blog [@honoryournutrition]. If YOU create something (that you think) is noteworthy, post it on your Instagram and tag me and I will repost it to share with the rest of the community!
19. I want abs, how many doughnuts do I need to eat for that?
I want my lifts to increase, how many Oreo’s will it take for that to happen?
These kinds of questions always make me chuckle at my computer. I know you guys don’t actually think my abs formed as a direct result from the doughnuts, nor my snatch PR as a direct result of the Oreo’s – but, maybe I was a bit misleading with my title. ☺ Before I started flexible dieting, I had abs, and they were visible (go back to my before pictures from my original piece) they were just under a layer of puff so to speak. My point in naming the article in the manner that I did was 1) to catch attention (as is always the point of a title) and 2) to drill into people’s brains that sugar is not the total enemy and you can eat “normal” foods in correct proportions while still working toward a lean body mass – it is actually science! My snatch PR was a direct result of months and months of daily technique work and as all you athletes know, the Olympic lifts are a constant work in progress and a constant number chase. The point of me including that in the title was to allow it to hit home that flexible dieting is not just something that will make you look good, but it is also something that will allow your hours in the gym to be fueled properly. You will gain energy and the ability to recover properly, which will, in turn, make your sessions more and more productive in the gym, which then and only then, will result in rewarding strength gains and personal bests. So, maybe my original piece should have been renamed “How Donuts Played A Role In The Road To A Lean Body Mass By Resetting My Metabolism & Also Fueled the Many Hours In The Gym Holding Heavy Barbells Overhead Which Developed My Abs and Allowed Me to Snatch 80kg.” But, what normal person has an attention span to read that title?!
20. I want personalized help from you! What do you offer?
Here are the current programs I have available as well as pricing options (**UPDATED AS OF MARCH 2015).
a) SMS – Simple Macro Set (or reset) plus “Starter Guide”: This is the most basic, and least personal service I offer. I get some information from you and give you macro numbers that I recommend you follow based on the goals that we discuss. When you come to me for this, I expect that you know and understand flexible dieting (do your research, most recommended is Krissy’s FD 2.0, use code “gainz”) so that when I send you on your way with numbers you are not completely lost and confused. I recommend this service for people who understand the body, nutrition, flexible dieting, but just want to make sure their numbers are correct and in accordance with what they are trying to accomplish. I will send you on your way with one page “Stater Guide” that will cover some basic issues or questions that I find people run into when they are first starting off. In the event, you would need a reset once your body weight, body fat, or goals significantly change you can come back and I will give you a new set of numbers in accordance with your new data.
Service cost: $40 per set or reset plus “Starter Guide”
b) ID4 – In-Depth 4 Weeks: This is where I provide a month of constant access to me in regards to your nutrition needs. I will set your numbers, recommend timing, collect progress pictures, explain the process, and teach you every step of the way how to go about being successful while flexible dieting. I would recommend this for competitive athletes and weightlifters as it basically allows you to work with me as your nutrition coach daily, in order to accomplish what you need to such as drop a weight class, make weight on meet day, or learn how to maintain/build strength and mass during a training season. You will have unlimited access to me via email, but I ask that you give 36 hours for a response.
Service cost: $80 per 4 weeks with no contract
c) GRID SHAPE NUTRITION: This is a pay up front 12-week program that is extremely exclusive and limited in the spots I accept/fill. A new cycle begins on the first of every month. It is a complete program, my priority clients, and those that are serious about having a coach and making a life change whether it is preparing them for a sport, or just getting their life back on track. The waiting list is open for the next month’s cycle and can be found at gridshapetraining.com.
d) Seminars: I tour the country (and other countries) doing nutrition workshops. These workshops will be a full day, in depth coverage of Flexible Dieting and how to properly balance your diet for whatever your goals may be. My intentions are to leave no stone unturned. If you are interested in hosting a workshop at your gym or in your area, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need to start thinking about nutrition in the same way we think about exercise. It is a scientific process, and there needs to be formulas and processes behind everything. Science works. Similarly, like with exercise, it is often very hard to be your own coach – no matter how much knowledge you have on the topic. I have a degree in Exercise Science and coach athletes all day in the gym, yet I have a coach of my own who tells me what to do and programs for me. My nutrition is no different. Although I am a coach in that discipline as well, I have a nutrition coach of my own and I need to give her full credit and respect where it is due. Ricklynn Long has taught me a large percentage of what I know and has been amazing since the day I started working with her. She offers similar programs as I do when it comes to counseling.
My Contact Information:
Honor Your Nutrition (on Facebook)
personal IG: @ncapurso22
food related IG: @honoryournutrition