Nutrition Basics | The Human Mechanics

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Sitting here in the amazing surrounds of Bendigo's Wholefoods Cafe got be thinking about everyone who's in here - everyone who's opted for a genuinely healthy and well balanced meal vs choosing the quicker, sometimes easier option of something deep fried or obtained through a drive-through window.

How much effort should it really take in order for someone to make the right choices when it comes to what food they put into their mouths throughout each day, especially when they are trying to achieve a level of body composition change? The short answer is - not much - although the reality of it is most people still don't have the required amount of self control in order to make simple choices reading their nutrition. With so many different methods out there, it's no wonder mind you that people find it a daunting task to even begin on the right foot to then try and maintain it.

So to help you navigate he veritable maze of sometimes conflicting information when it comes to the options you have regarding nutrition - I've covered a few of the more popular ones below for you. Above all else, whichever you choose it's important to ensure you maintain your consistency so that you can accurately track your progress and make intelligent adjustments if needed. Fail to do that part of it and you're just fumbling around in the dark.

Paleo -

'Back to the stoneage' with this one - it's a nutritional platform based on foods our ancestors were thought to have survived on. In all honestly one could easily imagine the caveman eating primarily protein, vegetable and clean carbohydrates as nothing else like 'kellogg's special K' was around for breakfast! I'm quite a fan of this style of eating as it eliminates processed sugars from a person's diet, something which most people pay little attention to until it's far too late. Teaching a person to get in the right amounts and combination of good fats, proteins, carbohydrates and vegetable is something that will give that person a lifetime of benefit and most definitely improve their performance in life and in exercise. You will notice some quick changes in your body composition using this method if you are 100% on it and your body will start running like a well oiled machine.

Low Calorie -

This is probably the single most stupid nutritional prescription a person can give to another or choose to take on themselves. It's not entirely your fault though if you have taken this method on - pick up any women's health magazine or read the vast majority of fitness blogs by so called 'experts' (who incidentally have never had any formal training in nutrition or even researched it), and you'll find them flogging the 'eat less to lose weight, eat even less to lose more weight' mantra. IT - IS - BULLSHIT. Sure, they will argue the initial results - and yes, you will drop significant bodyweight on this program. Did you notice I said bodyweight and not body composition? That's the most important part here - body composition change is the true success on any properly designed nutritional program, it means you are dropping body fat, building lean muscle mass or both. This particular diet sold by snake oil salesman of health and fitness industry will drop weight off you, which is body fat AND lean muscle - which incidentally leaves you looking ragged rather than the way you wanted - HOT! You metabolism will slow, you will stop functioning properly and it is a long, LONG road back to proper health and proper results. STAY CLEAR!

Keto -

This method is fast growing in it's popularity from the results it can achieve, the health benefits it has relating to blood sugar balance and insulin response but it's the beginning which normally gets everyone. You essentially strip all your carbohydrates from your diet and replace the calories with good fats, green vegetable and proteins. By removing carbohydrates from the nutritional plan, your body produces ketones which are then used as energy by the body. To properly enter ketogenesis you will need to first burn off your reserves of glycogen from the body, the resultant initial effect is poor energy, focus, lack of strength and performance. These will all return in a few weeks, but the initial strain it puts on the body and the mind is normally too much for most people. Push through though, and you'll see some excellent results. My one beef with this program is that trainers and businesses who use this method seldom teach people to correctly diet out of the plan and re-introduce carbohydrates back into their day to day nutrition. Most people who do challenges or short bursts of effort go straight back onto a 40% carbohydrate load or have an absolute blow out and then all hell breaks loose with their body and their measurements. Proper research into the re-introduction of carbohydrates will ensure your long term success with this method.

Intermittent Fasting -

This is another popular and probably more sustainable method of nutrition for body composition change. Essentially you manipulate when you have your meals rather than what you are eating to achieve your optimal body composition by effecting your hormonal response to food. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain. Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically - lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible. Cellular repair - When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. Gene expression, where there are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease


The most popular methods of IF are

  • The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between noon and 8pm.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don’t eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
  • The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500-600 calories or fast for the day.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of what method you choose, it's important to get the right amount of nutrients in to sustain the performance level you require to achieve the goals you have. Calculate your BMR (Base Metabolic Rate), then workout our Energy Expenditure requirements - this will depend on your daily exertion and weekly exercise regime and finally you need to add in a deficit or a surplus in calories to achieve the required result. Be consistent - I know I harp on about this a lot, but it's one of the most important factors when it comes to actually seeing and keeping your results.

Until next time -

Coach Arj 'yes I'm a foodie' Perera