This past weekend, I was so lucky to be able to virtually attend the first ever 2020 Nutrition Unfiltered Summit, a LIVE virtual event to help participants maximize their health and fitness during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the way we live and with that, the challenges of isolating ourselves from the world and being at home increase. This may affect our health and fitness journeys, and has for sure, affected my own. A group of registered dietitians and nutrition experts felt the best way to make it through these hardships was to collectively join their minds and bring their expertise and knowledge in a ONE-DAY virtual event. I have to say, they delivered and I learned so much from just the one short day.
They broke the day down into the four big areas of health; nutrition, mindset, movement and lifestyle. Through educational sessions from registered dietitians, we learned strategies to help adjust our nutrition habits while being at home, and heard different perspectives and tips to help navigate food choices, make goal-supportive decisions, and positively impact our health. Since we are spending so much time in social distancing, working from home, and changing our entire routine daily, learning to adapt to this is fundamental. They created a section specifically designed to teach anxiety mitigation strategies, coping with family at home, and re-framing situations to increase positivity. This mindset-focused section was enlightening to me and really made me aware of how much, even an introverted homebody like myself, could be struggling with this. We heard from Strength and Conditioning Coach Matt Smith on some key principles in exercise that will help us stay consistent with our workout routines at home. Finally, we discussed the art of creating powerful morning and night time routines to improve our day and boost our productivity daily.
Whoa! That was so much knowledge packed into one day. Although I enjoyed and learned from each session, I primarily joined the summit to hear from Alix Turoff. Alix is the founder of Alix Turoff Nutrition, where she helps clients to manage their weight and heal their relationship with food through nutrition therapy. Alix’s approach to nutrition and fitness is all about finding balance. She teaches clients how to manage their weight while still enjoying a life of delicious food and drinks by using a “flexible dieting” approach. She is such an inspiration to me and I love to follow along with her on Instagram, so I was thrilled when I found out she would be leading a session at the summit.
Alix lead the session "LEARNING MACROS AND MEAL TIMING STRATEGIES". There is a nutrition sect for everything; low carb, low fat, paleo, keto, intuitive eating, intermittent fasting, so on and so forth. The macro camp is where I'd live if the nutrition community were broken down into factions. So, when my favorite dietitian is teaching a session on macros, I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE! Sign me up, I am there. She did not let me down. She brought it with graphs, charts and formulas, nutrition science heaven. I know I am a nuti-science geek, but I also know that most other people aren't, so I will not bore you with the nitty gritty. I will, instead, give a few key points that I think everyone can benefit from knowing during this stressful time.
1. Everyday doesn't have to be a weight loss day.
Let me say that again, everyday doesn't have to be a weight loss day. It is especially important to remember now, to give yourself a break. You're already being taxed both mentally and emotionally, do not add to your own anxiety by pushing yourself to the extreme. MOST days can be weight loss days, but girl, it does not have to be every day, eat the (gluten-free) cookie, you deserve it.
2. Once you determine your goals, you then can determine your calorie and macro needs.
What are your goals for the foreseeable future while social distancing? Do you want to lose those last few pounds that have been hanging around for too long? Do you want to gain weight to build lean muscle mass? Or do you just want to maintain your weight, so all of that hard work to get to a size you are comfortable with was not in vein? Whatever your goal is, you need to identify it and then tailor your caloric and macronutrient needs to hit that goal.
Credit: Alix Turoff Nutrition
Alix shared this fantastic chart to help you determine your caloric needs. Let's say you weigh 150 pounds and are working out online with your favorite trainer 3-4 days a week and your goal is to lose a pound or two, but you really don't mind if you just stay where you are. According to the chart, you would take 150 x 14 and get 2,100 calories. You would want to consume no more than 2,100 calories a day to reach that goal. Easy peasy right? Your next question will be, do I have to track what I eat? Yes, there really is no way of estimating this, even nutritionists will track intake if they are trying to reach a specific goal. I recommend using an app like My Fitness Pal, it's free and has a huge library of food already in the database, so you just click and add.
The last piece of this is macros. Macros, or macronutrients, supply you with most of the energy you need to operate and are basically 3 things; fats, protein and carbohydrates. Calories are not all the same, if you’re only counting calories, you could let yourself indulge in sugary treats and then not be able to fit fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily calorie count. Tracking macros often encourages you to make healthier food choices. A healthy diet plan consists of a balance of all three macros, so it ensures that you consume enough carbs, protein, and fat while fueling your body with the right amount of energy. But what is the right amount of macros?
Just like calories, the breakdown of macros you need varies person to person. As a general rule, although this is highly debated in the nutrition community, you should be getting 0.8-1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh. Let's revisit that 150 pound example, so the daily protein goal would be 120g-150g for this person. This is the goal, and it is a lot, so hitting 100g or 110g would still be excellent. The other two macro amount really depend on you personally. If you are really active, you might want to have a higher carb count because your body will need to replenish it's energy store fast, but on the other hand, if you live more of a low-key lifestyle, that amount of carbs would make you feel sluggish and groggy. Which leads us to the next key point.
3. You have to test and tweak.
This is going to take work. Once you calculate your calories and decide on a macro split, then you need to follow it. Track your intake, record your weight daily and then at the end of 2 or 3 weeks, review your data. If your goal was to lose weight and you have been following your plan and you still have not lost any weight, then you might need to drop your calorie intake by 100 and re-evaluate your macro split, maybe you need more protein or less fat. What if the pound are falling off but your tired all the time and angry about everything? Then I would say you are hangry and go eat a cookie, aka, increase your caloric intake by 100 calories and then see how you feel. Teast and tweak.
Credit: Alix Turoff Nutrition
Keep that cycle going, try out the new calorie amount and macro split for 2-3 more weeks, record your findings and analyze the data. I am going to turn you all into nuti-science geeks by the end of this, for sure.
4. The scale will fluctuate.
A 3-5 pound weight shift is typical for most people day-to-day due to water retention. Yup, as much as 5 pounds! What causes these frustrating weight fluctuations? There are so many factors. Some people are sodium sensitive and may retain more water and others are less so. The extra water adds up to pounds on the scale. If you love your gluten-free breads, Sunday morning pancakes or Trader Joes gluten-free pizza, every gram of carbohydrate you consume, your body retains about three grams of water in order to store the fuel source. Even though these things are "gluten-free" that doesn't mean they necessarily are carb free. Some gluten-free foods can have even more carbs than their gluten-filled counterparts, because of the added sugars needed for moisture and tenderness. Other factors include medications, bowel movements, exercise, food intake, menstral cycle and alcohol consumption, among many other things. So, realize that the scale will fluctuate and this is a marathon not a sprint.
5. If you fall off the horse, get right back on.
How many times growing up did you hear this from parent, teachers and coaches? Has it sunk in yet? If you have a "bad" day and exceed your calorie goal or you decided to hit "next episode" and skip the 2pm Zoom Yoga class, it's ok. It really is. Set your calendar to remind you of tomorrows class and start your meal prep so tomorrow you have fresh fruits and veggies to munch on and stick to your caloric intake goals. That's it, just get right back up and keep going. We are all human, we all veer off course, you just gotta point yourself back towards you goal, it the gas and continue down the road.
I hope that these five tips were helpful and that you check out Alix Turoff for more knowledge and inspo!
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