I recently wrote a blog about putting the cart before the horse where people (they don’t know any better) just do things nutritionally in the wrong order. They jump the gun on a post workout supplement before they have the basics down when it comes to something as simple as energy balance. Well…it’s not that simple…but let’s keep this educational ball rolling with the nutritional pyramid and break it down in order of performance. First off… the pyramid that was popularized by Eric Helms with 3D Muscle Journey:
Are you lost? Maybe you thought nutrient timing and supplements were the key to your results? Not so fast. Those come when you get the bottom of the pyramid or base right first.
It’s not as simple as calories in and out, but the base is Energy Balance. Fueling your body appropriately for your goals. It doesn’t matter what protein shake you drink post workout if the rest of the day you aren’t eating. You feel me?
Once you get the base or fueling your body appropriately you can begin to work your way up the pyramid. Now, you don’t necessarily have too. Right? Because worrying about a macronutrient ratio might be too much for someone. If you are looking to improve performance or aesthetics we might want to. If you are someone just starting your journey or find tracking too neurotic just learning to portion your plate out appropriately is just fine!
Some might say micronutrients should be towards the bottom as well? I agree. As you learn how to eat, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, or fruits and vegetables can do wonders to your health and recovery. For a lot of us, we forget the importance of colors on our plate. We get slack and make quicker, more processed type foods and lose out on the nutrients plant based foods can give us. As you work your way up the ladder, make sure you balance foods that are better for you with the foods you enjoy.
Is nutrient timing a thing? It can be depending on how serious you are. Pre, during and post workout fuel plays a role in how well your training session goes and how well you recover, but it might not be as important for someone who doesn’t want to stress about their “intra” shake. I will say getting a source of protein every 3-4 hours is important.
And lastly…supplements. There are literally about 5 supplements that play a role in your results. After that it’s all marketing and BS. If you want to know the validity of a supplement head over to Examine.com. I always tell me clients get the bottom of the pyramid down before you start spending a bunch of money on supplements to pray they work.
In the end, stick to the basics and don’t get ahead of yourself or put the cart before the horse. Train hard, feed your muscle, sleep a lot and minimize stress the best you can.