5 Elements of the Nutritional Hierarchy

By on April 10, 2015

There’s no denying it, nutrition is a minefield! With so many conflicting reports and studies coming out every day it’s hard to keep up to date.

But are we overcomplicating things, too many people focus on the smallest of details before taking care of what really matters.

This 5 Elements of the Nutritional Hierarchy blog will highlight what you should be prioritising for body composition, performance and health.

#1 Energy Balance:

Get your energy balance right...

Get your energy balance right…

Without a doubt the most important factor and the one that gets overlooked the most is controlling energy balance. This is the number one priority and its so simple but can make such a big difference! Basically if you eat more calories than you burn, you will be in a calorie surplus and will be gaining weight. On the opposite end, if you burn more calories than you eat you will be in calorie deficit and will be losing weight.

It really is that simple! Again most people will track every workout they do record every weight they lift, but a very small percentage of people have an idea of how many calories they are eating.  If you control energy balance then you are in charge of the most important variable when it comes to either gaining muscle or losing fat.

#2 Macronutrients and Micronutrients

Next on the scale of importance is what those calories are made up of. There are countless number of macronutrient splits out there. Some people go low fat, high carb and vice versa. The best way to approach this is find what works for you. But one point to carefully think about is how sustainable is it.

For example if you put yourself on a really restrictive macronutrient split one that dramatically cuts your calories how long can you see yourself staying on this sort of plan? A real basic way of doing this is to set your protein intake this can be set from 1.4 – 2.0 grams per kilo of bodyweight depending on how active you are and how many times you train a week.

Then set your fat intake this should be set anywhere between 1.0 – 1.5 grams per kilo of bodyweight. Once these two have been set the rest of your calorie intake should come from carbohydrates. This is a good place to start and you can tweak the numbers as you go.

Micronutrients are important vitamin and minerals that your body needs for many physiological processes. Many people will have some sort of nutritional deficiency. Energy levels, appetite, strength, endurance and mood all rely on these essential nutrients. A sure fire way to ensure you are getting all these nutrients, is to take a good quality multivitamin.

Consider your macronutrients and micronutrients

Consider your macronutrients and micronutrients

#3 Nutrient Timing

Now we start getting to the points that many people will focus on before the more important points above. Don’t get me wrong they can make a difference but a much smaller difference than people give them credit for. A prime example of this is when to eat carbohydrates, some people say to eat most of them in the morning when insulin sensitivity is high, or to eat them most of them at night as part as carb backloading.

To be honest unless you’re competing in a fitness competition or looking to get real low levels of body fat then it really doesn’t matter.

We would say the most important part of nutrient timing is around the workout window. So 2-4 hours before a workout have a meal that is high in low GI carbs with a portion of protein. Within 30 minutes of your workout ending have 20 -30 grams of protein with some high GI carbs. Then again 2-4 after your workout have a mixed meal with low GI carbs, protein and some fats.

But again don’t overcomplicate things, do not have any carbohydrates all day, and then as soon as it gets to 5pm gorge on pizza and donuts. It will not turn you into Arnie! But more importantly it creates an unhealthy relationship with food.

Time your nutrients right...

Time your nutrients right…

#4 Food Choices

This is simple the foods you choose to eat to make up your calories. There is an abundance of “health” foods out there at the moment, gluten free, wheat free, calories free etc. Unless you have diagnosed food intolerance there is no need to pay over the odds for these types of foods. We are big advocates of flexible dieting; the main reason is, it promotes sustainability there is no point having the best diet in the world if you cannot stick to it.

So if 80 – 90% of your foods comes from good whole food sources like fish, chicken, rice, potatoes, oats, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, then you can afford to eat the other 10 -20% of food that you really enjoy! For example you could have a few slices of pizza and a bit of ice cream on a Saturday night, or you can eat what you want on a family meal out.

You don’t want to be the individual who brings Tupperware to a restaurant. Another way of working it out is if you eat 4 meals a day, that’s 28 meals a week. So roughly 10% of 28 is 3, so 3 meals a week you can let your hair down. Don’t be fooled into eating all these health foods all the time it will cost an arm and a leg!

Food choices are crucial!

Food choices are crucial!

#5 Supplements

Finally we have supplements. Now don’t get us wrong there are some key supplements that have been proven to work time and time again, not only for us but for everyone. These supplements include whey protein, creatine, omega 3s, vitamin D and a multivitamin.

Supplements help you with your overall intake

Supplements help you with your overall intake

Conclusion

The purpose of this article was to highlight how important the first two points are. Because in reality we find that these are the points people spend the less time on. We always worry over the smallest detail that can make the smallest difference. Why not switch that on its head and start worrying about the points that can make a HUGE difference!?

Joe and Simon Passey

About Joe and Simon Passey

Joe and Simon Passey are the founders of SJ Fitness. Two brothers who share a passion for the fitness industry. They both work in a full time capacity as personal trainers, specialising in strength and conditioning coaching. Twitter @fitness_sj Instagram s_j_fitness Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/SJ-Fitness/101545833351787