Reaching Macronutrient Goals

Reaching Macronutrient Goals

Question:

Greetings Nutrition: I am trying to get back in shape. I have a trainer at LA Fitness, and I think that I need to eat better. Could you give me some ideas of how I should be eating? Or a good meal plan that I can follow? I have been given a 1,416 calorie per day limit. Macros are: Carbs 203 grams, Fat 84 grams Protein 65 grams. I am having a hard time finding good breakfast options and making my protein of 65 grams daily. I don’t eat eggs so that cause problems for breakfast. I pretty much eat everything else. Any help that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

– Eric H.

Answer:

First and foremost, your provided macronutrient targets provide 1,828 total calories (812 calories carbohydrate, 756 calories fat, 260 calories protein), a considerable difference from your caloric limit. If the goal is qualitative, then the approach should be more precise. Not knowing which is more important for you, I’d go with the higher caloric target as you are working out and 1,400 calories may only be appropriate for significant weight loss, older or smaller-framed men.

We don’t provide meal plans, though several sample meals can be found throughout our Living Healthy blog. Since breakfast is the most challenging meal for you, here are some breakfast suggestions that provide roughly 550 calories.* I’ve broken that down as approximately 60 gram carb, 25 gram fat and 20 gram protein.

By working on your own lunch and dinner options, you can get close to the remainder macronutrients for the day. Quality can’t be overlooked, though! Foods with high micronutrient, fiber and unsaturated fat content will make a big difference even if you’re slightly off your gram or calorie goals.

* Calculated by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist using Fitday.com’s food log function. Findings were used along with RDN’s professional judgment.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

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The Best Supplement for Lean Muscle Mass

The Best Supplement for Lean Muscle Mass

Question:

Hi, what would be the best supplement to become leaner and cut muscle?

– Lito J.

Answer:

The leanest, most cut people are generally considered bodybuilders. They most commonly use arginine, beta-alanine, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), caffeine, citrulline malate, creatine monohydrate, glutamine, and beta-hydroxy-methylbutyrate (HMB). Among these, creatine has been shown to be effective for muscle size and strength when added to a weight training program.1,2 The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) states that “creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”2 Beta-alanine further improves lean mass gains and body fat loss in conjunction with creatine supplementation.1  

Arginine and citrulline malate may have ergogenic effects but do not conclusively alter body composition. The BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) decrease muscle protein breakdown and increase skeletal muscle protein synthesis though these have not translated to increased lean mass. The stimulant caffeine, taken pre-workout, increases strength training performance which allows you to do more muscle-building work.

Read about related topics on our Living Healthy blog – overall supplements and nitric oxide boosters.

Resources:

  • Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. Helms ER, Aragon AA, Fitschen PJ. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. May 2014; 11:20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
  • International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Safety and Efficacy of Creatine Supplementation in Exercise, Sport and Medicine. RB Kreider, et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. June 2017; 14:18. doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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How do I reach potassium goal on low sugar?

How do I reach potassium goal on low sugar?

Question:

I read we need to consume 3,500-4,700 mg of potassium daily. I don’t eat sugar…I had a banana the other day and I almost came out of my skin! I eat spinach and broccoli daily and sweet potatoes regularly. How can I reach these numbers?

– Cliff A.

Answer:

To reach the US Dietary Guidelines goal for potassium [4,700 mg for adults] from vegetables, dairy, animal protein foods, legumes, nuts and grains with little fruit is doable with the proper planning and tools. Charts such as from Health.gov and the National Institutes of Health show the potassium content in various foods. For our members in Canada, check out HealthLinkBC’s chart with metric measures.

Using the above, we calculated that eating a medium baked potato, ½ Cup cooked beet greens, 2 Cups raw spinach, ½ Cup white or adzuki beans, ½ Cup soybeans, 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt, 1 Cup skim milk, 3 oz cooked salmon, and ½ Cup avocado would meet the potassium goal for the day. If the variety of foods you’re willing to consume is limited, adjust portions accordingly to provide more potassium from what you do eat.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Disclaimer: Nutrient values were used along with RDN’s professional judgment. Due to variations in products, final calculation is an approximation.

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Iced Black Tea, Iced Green Tea, or Iced White Tea – Which Reduces Belly Fat the Most?

Iced Black Tea, Iced Green Tea, or Iced White Tea – Which Reduces Belly Fat the Most?

Sipping a cool glass of iced tea feels so refreshing and hydrating! Wouldn’t it be even better if you knew that doing so might also help your waistline? We wanted to find out if that was the case, so we explored which type of iced tea (black, green or white) has a waist-slimming effect.

True tea is brewed from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The names of the tea colors have to do with leaf maturity and extent of oxidation. Oxidation is the process responsible for the browning of black tea leaves, as well as the development of new flavonoids. When the leaves are simply steamed and crushed manually without additional oxidation they retain a green color. White tea is the variant that undergoes the least processing and the leaves are harvested while the tea plant is still young.

BLACK TEA


Here’s how the three types fare in comparison to one another for belly fat reduction:

Black tea* is high in polyphenols called flavonoids. A predominant form of flavonoids are polyphenolic catechins. The process of oxidation browns the leaves and causes reduced catechin content – by around 85% compared to green tea – and less bitterness.1

One study on black tea consumption (3 cups/day) showed positive effects on weight and waist circumference at 3 months, but not at 6 months.2 Animal and small human studies suggest that the caffeine in black tea may increase basal metabolism by up to 6 percent.3 It’s proposed that caffeine encourages the body to breakdown stored fat and stimulate its metabolism. With caffeine, more is not better! Safety guidelines recommend you should only consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day (equal to 5-8 cups of black tea). Also, note that black tea is a rich source of oxalates which can cause kidney stones.

* Chinese black tea (called red tea in China since brewing causes a reddish color) is not the same: The leaves are aged for a very long time giving Chinese black tea a different flavor and flavonoid profile. Oolong tea is made from sun-dried tea leaves that are partially oxidized. Pu’er tea is made from leaves that have been oxidized then microbially fermented.

GREEN TEA


Green tea is characteristically bitter and astringent and has the most catechins compared to black tea. There are eight prominent catechins found in green tea including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is believed to be the most pharmacologically active and is the most extensively studied. Green tea catechins (predominantly EGCG) may influence fat distribution by preventing fat cell proliferation, reducing fat absorption, increasing energy expenditure and increasing fat burning.4

It appears that catechins’ ability to impact abdominal fat takes place at a certain threshold. It takes about 500mg catechins (equal to 5 cups of green tea)4,5 to modestly reduce abdominal fat or waist circumference, based on studies using catechin-enhanced beverages.6,7 Again, more is not better… consuming greater than 800mg of EGCG in one sitting would be like slamming a gallon of green tea all at once, and instead of acting as an antioxidant (as it does at lower levels), you’d get pro-oxidant effects!

Aside from sympathetic nervous system action, green tea catechins may also increase satiety. Green tea catechins increase the release of hormones that reduce our appetite and induce a satiating effect, telling our brain that we’ve eaten enough.8 

The caffeine naturally present in green tea may increase energy expenditure on its own but it’s evident that caffeine works synergistically with the catechins. A meta-analysis of research4 and other long-term studies9  indicate that decaffeinated green tea extracts do not have an effect on body weight or abdominal fat.

WHITE TEA 


White tea offers a sweeter and lighter taste than black or green teas although it still contains a variety of compounds including EGCG. One study showed that the range of its total catechin content can overlap the variance found in green tea, making the amount comparable.10 The authors concluded that the source, cultivation, and processing of a given tea may have more influence on catechin content than whether it is green or white.10 Another study demonstrated that the caffeine content between green and white tea is not appreciably different.11

Human studies investigating white tea’s effects on abdominal fat are rare. Results of an in vitro study indicated that white tea extract effectively reduced fat deposition and promoted the breakdown of fat.12 


The winner… ICED GREEN TEA, if you drink enough – 5 cups! For higher effectiveness, consume green tea while fasted – making it your first food of the day to increase absorption of catechins4 – and spread remaining intake throughout the day rather than all at once.

Tips on tea preparation before you ice it:

  • Check bottled tea labels and choose only pure, unadulterated tea—or save money and brew your own at home.
  • For the most catechins, look for quality packaging to ensure better storage with minimal exposure to oxygen, light, and moisture.
  • Use bottled or deionized water to extract (nearly double) more catechins when brewing tea.13 Steeping leaves in tap water, especially ‘hard water’ high in minerals, leads to a less bitter but also less potent tea.15
  • The ideal water temperature and steep time for maximum extraction vary by tea type. For example, brew white tea bags at 98°C [208°F] for 7 minutes to obtain the highest polyphenol content and pleasant taste.14
  • Consider adding lemon or creamer/milk to allow more catechins to be absorbed since they stabilize tea polyphenols in the intestine, inhibiting their degradation from an alkaline pH.15

 


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Intra-workout Drinks and Protein Recommendation

Intra-workout Drinks and Protein Recommendation

Question:

My focus has largely been on muscle growth, though I do plan on switching my routine a bit later in the summer to incorporate more cardio. I would like to be more mindful about the supplements I use and am hoping you can provide advice on this front. I shop at GNC and I normally get a powder for intra-workout drinks and I also get tubs of protein. Do you have products that you would recommend that are both effective and healthy? There are so many different products in the market, as you know, but there really isn’t much oversight of those products when it comes to quality, effectiveness, and, to some degree, legality. I think it would be good for me to hear from an expert on what intra-workout drinks and protein shakes are best rather than relying on blogs, etc.

– Deb S.

Answer:

You’re absolutely right that all consumers have to go on is mostly user reviews and manufacturer advertising – how frustrating! With thousands of products on the market for an industry that draws billions of dollars in sales each year, it’s impossible to even keep up a list of what sport nutrition supplements are available. Turning to the experts is excellent. To be completely unbiased, I don’t endorse a particular brand or products. Rather I look at the individual ingredients for their safety and efficacy.

Protein powders that only contain other macronutrients, amino acids and flavors tend to be safe and effective as solid proteins. They really are a substitute for whole food for convenience, portability and ease of digestion. A reasonable guide is to spend no more than one dollar ($1) per 20-25 gram protein serving; even less if you buy in bulk.

Some active compounds that have scientific evidence behind them are creatine, caffeine, Beta-alanine, nitrate and sodium bicarbonate1.  You can look up ingredients on www.Examine.com but can’t research a certain product by name or brand. The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements has a helpful table of selected ingredients’ efficacy, safety and dosages that also indicates the type of exercise that they may benefit.

Even when there are studies on effectiveness of an ingredient, the next step is determining whether a particular product has an active amount of that compound. In addition, I look for those that not only say they have 3rd party (“independent laboratory”) testing for potency but offer the report as well. In addition, consumer sites such as Labdoor.com and ConsumerLab.com allow you to search their review/analysis by product name.

Remember, supplements are of best value when they complement a well-chosen high-quality eating plan!

Resources:

  • Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116:501-528.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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