Tag Archives: jonny landels

Eating for performance vs eating for fat loss & Workout for Mon 12th March

Often when I ask a client about their goals they usually revolve around performing better and losing weight.

Pretty much the same for the majority of us, right?

So what’s the issue here then? Surely these seem like logical goals?

They are, and there’s nothing wrong with them.

In performance sports it often pays off to be a little bit lighter: CrossFit and gymnastic efforts; weightlifting/powerlifting classes etc.

The issue lies in the approach required to achieve these goals.

You see, in order to lose weight we need to be in some form of a caloric deficit (taking in less energy than we burn). Whereas to increase performance we need to be in a caloric balance at least (if not a small surplus).

So then how do we achieve these goals simultaneously?

It can be tricky to do, and partly comes down to how long you have been training for.

Oftentimes it is best to focus on one or the other, and this is where nutritional periodisation comes in.

Prioritise weight loss in the ‘off-season’, where performance gains aren’t necessary. Then, when the target weight is achieved, a recovery/reverse diet can ensue.

This allows the weight loss to be maintained while picking the metabolism back up and improving strength/performance.

First let’s take a look at eating for fat/weight loss.

Nutrition for fat loss

If you’re a beginner (0-1.5/2 years training), then you’re much more likely to be able to put on muscle while in a caloric deficit, as long as you eat adequate protein to spare and build muscle tissue.

However, if you’re beyond the 2 year training mark, you’ll find it hard to build muscle while in a deficit. Again though, you can spare muscle tissue being lost as long as you eat enough protein (1-1.2g per lb of BW is the most agreed amount).

However, if this is your first time tracking your intake and paying attention to your nutrition, you may find that by regulating your intake you get a slight performance increase whilst being in the deficit.

No matter your level of training, you want to ensure that your deficit is as small as possible while still allowing fat loss.

This prevents loss of muscle tissue, increases dietary adherence, and lowers the risk of a rebound when you’re done losing weight. This also ensures that you can still eat a decent amount of carbohydrates to fuel your efforts in the gym.

For performance athletes focused on losing weight, the best macronutrient to lower is fat as long as you don’t go below the minimum amounts (around 10-15% of total calorie intake).

This allows plenty of carbohydrates in the diet to fuel the performance efforts, and also provides a large enough deficit (as fat is so calorific at 9kcals per gram).

As you lose weight, your body will begin to adapt to your intake. This is known as metabolic adaptation.

This means if your rate of weight loss slows, you’ll need to make adjustments to keep losing fat.

I would recommend a weight loss target of 1-1.5lbs per week, so that you’re still getting plenty of food for performance and muscle mass retention.

It is often quoted that 3,500kcals = 1 pound of weight. Although it isn’t as black and white as this, this is a good starting point.

So for a weight loss of 1lb per week you can aim for a 500kcal daily deficit.

No matter your weight loss goal, I would recommend a deficit for around 2-3 months before coming back to maintenance and having a break.

This not only will allow you to progress further, it also limits metabolic adaptation and keeps you sane!

So when you’ve reached your target, then the time comes to restore your metabolism, keep the weight off, and start fuelling your performance gains.

Nutrition for Performance

As mentioned earlier, performance increases requires caloric maintenance or even a slight surplus.

The body requires a certain amount of food in order to perform at it’s best, so you better fuel appropriately if you want optimal performance.

If you’re coming out of a weight loss diet, then bringing your calories up slowly is the key to avoiding weight rebound.

Start by adding in 200-250kcals per day each week and monitor your weight and how your body feels so that you don’t overdo it.

If you’re not trying to lose weight, and are focused solely on performance, then it’s worth tracking where you are now and how your body feels.

A lot of the time if we’ve chronically under eaten then our bodies will have simply adapted to this and gotten used to it.

If you feel tired all the time, sluggish in workouts, and have zero mojo, then you’re probably under eating.

This is common for a lot of performance athletes focusing on the highest quality foods and often avoiding a lot of carbohydrates.

My advice here would be to obviously eat more food, and especially carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are the optimal fuel source for intense training and glycolytic activity. It is also the preferred fuel source of the brain so can help in adequate CNS recovery and function.

In Conclusion

If you’re a beginner trainee, you’ll often see some performance improvements while in a calorie deficit.

However, it is still best to try to lose fat when your performance needs are lowest (so far away from competitions/qualifiers).

You can then reach your target weight while being happy with muscle mass maintenance, and then slowly ramp things back up as your performance needs increase.

For those of us in performance sports, decreases in intake should be mostly from fats (though obviously personal preferences will affect dietary adherence), and increases should then come from dietary carbohydrates.

Stay tuned to how your body responds to your approach. Stay clued in to your energy, sleep, hunger, and performance and make decisions based on evidence, not what you hear may work.

If you’re reading the above and think your approach needs work, then get in touch.

If you are interested in finding out more about nutrition coaching with Jonny Landels, check out this info.

Workout of the Day – CrossFIt

A) Back Squat 1-1-1

B) In a 3 minute widow complete:
10 Thrusters 40/30kg
30 Double unders
10 Thrusters
30 Double unders

In the next 3 minute window complete:
12 Thrusters
30 Double unders
12 Thrusters
30 Double unders

In the next 3 minute window complete:
14 Thrusters
30 Double unders
14 Thrusters
30 Double unders

*Start a new round every 3 minutes, adding 2 reps to the thrusters each time.
*Repeat until you cannot complete the work in the 3 minute window.

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.

This is touted so often these days it’s become almost Gospel. An unwritten rule of nutrition essentially. Hell I think I’ve probably told many people and clients this same line.

But is there any evidence to back up this claim?

What if it actually came down to personal preference as to whether you ate breakfast or not?

First off let’s look at the arguments for consuming breakfast.

It keeps you full until lunch and thereby reduces over-eating

It is often claimed that by eating breakfast we are more likely to have energy through our morning’s and stay full until lunch.

By missing breakfast we leave ourselves open to snacking on high calorie foods and temptations.

If this happens then we would end up eating more junk food, and consequently more calories.

So in this instance consuming breakfast would be the better option for health and weight management.

Well yes, this can be the case, depending on what we eat for breakfast and how we deal with hunger/temptation before lunch.

If we consume a small, and nutrient lacking breakfast (small bowl of cereal for instance), then actually we may still be hungry only an hour into our day. Before you know it, your hand is in the biscuit tin to go with your mid-morning brew.

If we were to consume a slightly bigger, more balanced breakfast (containing some protein as well), then we would be more likely to be full until lunch and avoid temptation.

In a lot of observational studies, it is shown that those who consume breakfast are associated with better health.

However, this is generally because the breakfast-eaters are generally more ‘health-seeking’ individuals who also exercise regularly and have lots of other healthy habits.

It’s also true that most work places don’t exactly have the healthiest options available for people who need breakfast on the go. Think high calorie breakfast bars, crisps, and other such delights you’d find in a standard office vending machine.

But what if skipping breakfast was part of a plan, and by knowing this plan we then stayed strong until lunch, and didn’t consume calories in that time. Would it still be a negative thing to skip breakfast?

Skipping meals causes the body to go into starvation mode

This is another argument from the pro-breakfast crowd.

Well it can be said with certainty that this is not the case.

For one, there was a study done by Stewart & Fleming in 1973 in which they took a 27-year-old male through a 382-day supervised fast, in which he only had water and vitamins. And the result?

The man lost 125.2kg overall, an average of 0.33kg a day.

I can hear you screaming at the screen now, “But he must have wrecked his metabolism and put it all back on!”

Nope, 5 years later and he weighed 89kg, which was only a few kg above where he finished the fast.

Also, when studies use doubly labelled water to assess total 24-h energy expenditure they find no difference between nibbling and gorging.

Bellisle et al (1997) also concluded that:

There is no evidence that weight loss on hypo energetic regimens is altered by meal frequency”.

Essentially meaning as long as you’re in a calorie deficit (consuming less calories than you burn) you will lose weight even if you skip a meal.

But I thought eating breakfast boosted your metabolism?

This is another myth from the unwritten rules of nutrition.

The research does not support this claim. In one study comparing 3 meals a day to 6 meals a day, Cameron et al. (2010) concluded that:

“increasing meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss”.

So, skipping meals doesn’t lead to starvation mode, and eating more meals doesn’t boost your metabolism, so what really are the benefits to consuming breakfast?

Well, as I alluded to above, eating breakfast can stop you from over-eating in the day if your response to missing breakfast is to binge on snacks.

It can also be a great way to get in extra nutrients for your body, and improve your health.

However, skipping breakfast on purpose, and then eating lunch and dinner as normal, can be a very easy way to lower your calorie intake without having to think about it.

This is therefore a great strategy for those who are looking to drop weight without following a complicated plan or without feeling too deprived.

By skipping breakfast and still eating your normal sized meals for the rest of the day, you’re dropping calories without feeling deprived.

You will also be eating larger, more socially acceptable meals when you are eating. Rather than eating small amounts for each meal (which may be necessary to create a caloric deficit for weight loss).

This last point is what I hammer home often. In order to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit, and skipping breakfast can achieve this.

Skipping breakfast may also be a great tool if you’re very busy and don’t have time to prepare anything suitable/healthy.

You’re better off eating nothing than eating crisps and chocolate in the car on your way to work.

Another positive for not consuming breakfast would also be if you weren’t hungry. Eating when not hungry is a fast way to over-consume and therefore put on weight. If you wake up and you’re not hungry, don’t eat!

The Conclusion

The decision to eat breakfast or not is completely up to you and your goals.

You can do either and still be extremely healthy and lead a fulfilling life.

If you like eating breakfast, and this stops you from snacking on high calorie foods and over-eating, then go for it.

However if you’re too busy, always consume food on the go that’s less than ideal, or want an easy way to lower calories, then skip it.

This fits in perfectly with the research by Dhurandar et al. (2014) who concluded:

“A recommendation to eat (or skip) breakfast had no discernible effect on weight loss in free living adults who were attempting to lose weight”.
So remember; next time someone tries to convince you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you’ll know for sure that it’s not.

For more information on Nutrition Coaching with Jonny, check out this page.

Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Strength / Strength Endurance – Back Squat

A1) Build to a heavy single for the day

A2) 2 x 20 reps @ 50% of above

B) 3 x 3 Minute AMRAP : 2 minute rest
15 Toes to bar
Max rep lunges