What is your goal?
‘Putting the cart before the horse’ means focusing on the detail before you understand the big picture and context of those details.
Focus on the big picture.
A good example is if you're aiming to drop fat, maintain your current condition or gain strength and muscle? This is the big picture and everything else falls into context to the calorie and protein requirements needed to achieve this result.
A. Fat loss = calorie deficit
B. Maintenance = balance of calories
C. Muscle gain = calorie surplus*
Hitting your daily calorie and protein targets on a consistent basis is the most important part of achieving those goals. It is easy to underestimate how difficult this is on a consistent daily basis because we are complicated beings, living complex lives. As such it is wise to avoid getting bogged down in the the fancy details such as nutrient timing, micro-nutrients, gut health, liver detoxification and supplementation.
*Please note that when aiming to gain muscle you only need a mild calorie surplus of at roughly 100-300 kcal above maintenance (Garthe et al, 2013). More calories then this will likely be in the form of fat gain.
How much protein?
If you’re performing effective strength training three or more times a week then roughly 1-1.3 grams per pound of body weight per day is a good start (Phillips et al, 2011). You will not recover from your training, daily activities or build muscle without hitting this figure.
How much carbohydrate and fats?
With the remaining calories consume a good mix of quality carbohydrates (including vegetables) and fats. You can also enjoy some processed, sugary and fast food provided you hit your calorie and protein target.
Simplicity leads the way
Hit your daily calorie and protein targets consistently, feel the progress and the rest will follow. It's a feed forward mechanism obtained from focuses your efforts on the most important principles.
Examples: In order to hit a caloric deficit with three reasonably sized meals and two or three snacks per day, you will need to eat higher volume, lower calorie such vegetables, low fat daily or low fat meat. Consequently by ensuring you adequately rotate these vegetables you'll get all the micro nutrients you need. No need for an expensive multivitamin tablet. Cut down on your high calorie processed foods and alcohol to reduce calorie consumption then you'll likely detoxify your body and improve you digestive efficiency. Simple!
Ignore the BS
The fitness industry can often be misleading because it wants to draw your attention to a niche product. You can make a lot of money pushing the latest gimmick, service, diet approach or product. A lot of effort goes into making you feel inadequate or dis-empowered but the reality is if you focus on the big picture and whats important you're empowered to achieve great results.
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Garthe, l., et al., Effect of nutritional intervention on body composition and performance in elite athletes. Eur J Sport Sci, 2013.
Phillips, S.M. and L.J Van Loon, Dietry protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci, 2011.