T Nation

Nutrition? Supplements? Info Overload

Ok. I do research for a living. As you can well imagine, when I did what I do most naturally, when approaching a new content area, I found that I am completely and utterly overwhelmed with contradictory ideas. I also warn you in advance I tend to be a bit…verbose.

So, my goals. I need to lose 50-100 lbs. The big range is because I know that muscle weighs more than fat and right now I have a LOT of fat. If I were simply going to diet, I would probably need to lose on the higher end of my range.

I’ve let myself get out of control the last four years–caring for my terminally ill husband, grief after his death, then recovering from ACL replacement/cadaver graft, pulmonary embolism after surgery…

I feel like I am finally swimming back to the surface after being trapped in the bottom of a deep, dark, murky lake. I’v managed to recover from my surgery, which was in October, and no longer am on blood thinners for the blood clots. I am moving past the trauma of the past emotionally, and am anxious to get on with things, physically.

I want to be fit. I don’t care so much about looking like a body builder, though I am sure my boyfriend would love that, ha ha! I’ve read enough to understand that I can’t lift too much, and that without serious effort, I won’t end up looking like a guy. So that fear is put to rest.

Though I do tend to put on muscle pretty easily, from my experiences in the past. My knee is recovering well from surgery; I should get the all-clear next month when I have my six month post surgical check. My lung capacity is somewhat compromised by the huge saddle embolism, but seems to be getting better every day. I do have to watch myself that I do not overextend my lung capacity.

So. Nutrition. I’ve successfully lost weight in the past, and I know what I need to do for my body in terms of calories in order to simply shed pounds. I have never, however, tried to both lift weight, gain muscle, AND lose fat.

From what I understand, I need to eat a lot more calories than what I would normally eat when trying to lose weight. And of course I realize that greater muscle mass burns more calories, even at rest. I have to admit, I get a little anxious looking at what seems to me to be obscene caloric intake…

So, how to I figure out how many calories I need to eat, and what proportions of nutrients? Is there a calculator online somewhere? Luckily, I do love healthy foods. I garden in the summer and have no problems eating massive quantities of vegetables. I love fish, chicken, beef, beans.

I adore tofu, but my bf is hesitant to really sign off on much of that–any opinions? I also really enjoy whole grains. I also have to admit that I like my junk food and my refined carbs. In fact, I have a bit of a problem with loving bread, pasta, etc. I do like whole grain versions, but I know even those one should only consume in moderation.

I really hate protein shakes. The smell makes me gag. A holdover, I think, from forcing the things down my late husband’s throat for two years during his chemo and radiation treatments. I know this might be a problem in getting in enough protein.

And supplements–I have always been a bit of a hippy-dippy chick, was raised by an R.N., and I am deeply suspicious of a lot of supplements. Is it possible to achieve my goals WITHOUT a lot of supplements? ARe there sources out there, reliable, credible sources, that will assuage my suspicious nature?

With my modest goals, will it be ok NOT to take many, or any, supplements, especially if I am dedicated to nutrition?

Thanks in advance, with your patience with me. Also, let me know if this is not the place for these questions, and I would be better served, for example, by posting in a different forum.

Oh, btw, I am not doing this totally on my own. My boyfriend is a longtime T-Nation guy who seems to be in high regard and has been lifting for almost 25 years (I won’t out him; he can do so if he so chooses). He will be overseeing my work in the gym.

His plan for me is to start me on a six week program of lifting three times a week, and cardio three times a week. After six weeks we will reassess and he will design a new program for me, based on those results. And of course I will listen to him about the nutritional stuff–I just feel information is power.

Not many people in my newbie position have a live in personal trainer and professional level gym at their disposal, and I know I am very lucky!

I will have him take pics and I will measure and I will keep track of my workouts, nutrition, etc, and at some later date I will post this stuff for input.

I know you all probably have seen thousands of newbies come and go and I am probably asking the same questions that have been answered a million times. I will do some research into the archives and see what I can see…

Thanks!

Crys

Crys,

I always love to see stories of people pulling themselves out of deep dark places to regain control of their lives. Congratulations on taking such a big step forward.

There are a lot of good questions here that others on this forum have more knowledge on than I do, but I will take a stab at the supplements question. I thought a lot about this when I first started as well.

My thoughts on supplements are that they are really the most helpful for people who are already pretty close to their goals. For someone in your shoes, all you need to commit to is a good diet and some hard work (NO amount of hard work will make you look like a guy, that takes a shot in the ass of supplements that you usually have to cross the border to get).

The ONE supplement that I recommend to EVERYONE in my life is fish oil. I’m a neuroscientist so it is near and dear to my line of work!

If you are interested in supplements, a good approach is looking into supplements that suit your needs or goals. For example, I lift often so I try to take stuff that help with muscle recovery. I also like to have a lot of energy so I like SPIKE. I am sure others have different thoughts, but this has worked well for me.

I wish you the best down this new journey!!!

Sarah

[quote]sbmart2 wrote:
Crys,

I always love to see stories of people pulling themselves out of deep dark places to regain control of their lives. Congratulations on taking such a big step forward.

There are a lot of good questions here that others on this forum have more knowledge on than I do, but I will take a stab at the supplements question. I thought a lot about this when I first started as well.

My thoughts on supplements are that they are really the most helpful for people who are already pretty close to their goals. For someone in your shoes, all you need to commit to is a good diet and some hard work (NO amount of hard work will make you look like a guy, that takes a shot in the ass of supplements that you usually have to cross the border to get).

The ONE supplement that I recommend to EVERYONE in my life is fish oil. I’m a neuroscientist so it is near and dear to my line of work!

If you are interested in supplements, a good approach is looking into supplements that suit your needs or goals. For example, I lift often so I try to take stuff that help with muscle recovery. I also like to have a lot of energy so I like SPIKE. I am sure others have different thoughts, but this has worked well for me.

I wish you the best down this new journey!!!

Sarah[/quote]

Thanks so much for your response, Sarah. I am already taking fish oil for insomnia problems. What sort of dosage do you think is most beneficial? Of course I have read everything all over the place. Really high doses are recommended for sleep problems.

If you are having sleep problems you might want to give Z-12 a try.That stuff is sleep magic. I love it and gave it as gifts to friends and family.

Do you already take a multivitamin? I take a prenatal and iron tablet along with some supps from here.

I don’t think you need supps to lose weight, but you can benefit from supps.

Superfood is awesome and tastes good. HOT-ROX gives me energy and curbs my appetite. I just started with Rez-V so I can’t really comment on that yet.

Keep in mind that Bill Roberts suggests taking the weight you are and the weight you want to be and use the average of the two numbers together as your weight to figure calories. So if you weigh 210 and you want to weigh 150, the average would be 180. And of course to reduce or increase calories as needed.

Here is a link to a calorie calculator.
http://www.caloriecontrol.org/calcalcs.html

but of course, due to your previous health problems be sure to check with your doc before taking any new supps.

best of luck to you!

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:

If you are having sleep problems you might want to give Z-12 a try.That stuff is sleep magic. I love it and gave it as gifts to friends and family.

Do you already take a multivitamin? I take a prenatal and iron tablet along with some supps from here.

I don’t think you need supps to lose weight, but you can benefit from supps.

Superfood is awesome and tastes good. HOT-ROX gives me energy and curbs my appetite. I just started with Rez-V so I can’t really comment on that yet.

Keep in mind that Bill Roberts suggests taking the weight you are and the weight you want to be and use the average of the two numbers together as your weight to figure calories. So if you weigh 210 and you want to weigh 150, the average would be 180. And of course to reduce or increase calories as needed.

Here is a link to a calorie calculator.
http://www.caloriecontrol.org/calcalcs.html

but of course, due to your previous health problems be sure to check with your doc before taking any new supps.

best of luck to you!

[/quote]

THanks for your answer. I do take a multivitamin. I have had lifelong insomnia problems, been treated every way imaginable, it cycles, esp with stress.

As you can well imagine I have had a lot of stress the last four or five years! I have not heard of the Z-12.

I was not so much concerned with the supplements for weight loss, but for muscle. My boyfriend is pretty attached to his supplements. I am more skeptical–lots of things out there that claim to work miracles that are pure junk.

Yes, I am going to be seeing my dr soon, and will make sure she signs off on any supplements! Goood point.

Ok, so, I get averaging the weight I am now with the weight I want to be to determine calories. That is a pretty neat trick.

Now, how do I figure out how much protein, carbs, etc for this type of activity? I know the conventional wisdom/food pyramid kind of stuff, but what I have read on T-Nation seems to fly in the face of that. Good nutrition is stressed but not really clear what that means in this context.

ANy good weightlifting/nutrition sites? Any opinions of Precision Nutrition? Someone mentioned that to me as a good source of info; it is kinda pricey…

SOrry for all the questions. I tried searching the archives for nutrition and got too many hits to be useful,a nd no one seems to agree what is/is not good acceptable practice!

Out of curiosity, has anyone explained to you how to figure out the exact number of calories you need (I normally use a formula based off of BMI even though this isn’t completely accurate, add in workouts/activities, and then subtract the amount of calories needed to be cut each day in order to equal 1 or 2 pounds a week, which is either 500 or 1000 calories a day. 3500 calories=1 pound of fat) and how to estimate the ratio of carbs/fat/protein you should be getting?

[quote]Chrysalis wrote:
Ok, so, I get averaging the weight I am now with the weight I want to be to determine calories. That is a pretty neat trick.

Now, how do I figure out how much protein, carbs, etc for this type of activity? I know the conventional wisdom/food pyramid kind of stuff, but what I have read on T-Nation seems to fly in the face of that. Good nutrition is stressed but not really clear what that means in this context.

ANy good weightlifting/nutrition sites? Any opinions of Precision Nutrition? Someone mentioned that to me as a good source of info; it is kinda pricey…

SOrry for all the questions. I tried searching the archives for nutrition and got too many hits to be useful,a nd no one seems to agree what is/is not good acceptable practice![/quote]

Great question! No one is going to have a perfect answer for you. Therefore, I recommend keeping a food journal and playing around with the ratios of fats/proteins/carbs until you find what works for you.

The perfect combo should keep you feeling full and energetic on the amount of calories you are alotted, while still promoting fat loss.

One last thing- I don’t know if you’re giving yourself a “cheat day” but don’t do that! It’s a mathematical equation and every calorie contributes no matter the day it entered your body!

[quote]Chrysalis wrote:
Ok, so, I get averaging the weight I am now with the weight I want to be to determine calories. That is a pretty neat trick.

Now, how do I figure out how much protein, carbs, etc for this type of activity? I know the conventional wisdom/food pyramid kind of stuff, but what I have read on T-Nation seems to fly in the face of that. Good nutrition is stressed but not really clear what that means in this context.

ANy good weightlifting/nutrition sites? Any opinions of Precision Nutrition? Someone mentioned that to me as a good source of info; it is kinda pricey…

SOrry for all the questions. I tried searching the archives for nutrition and got too many hits to be useful,a nd no one seems to agree what is/is not good acceptable practice![/quote]

Have you read the article Nutrition for Newbies?

and part 2

In part 2 it breaks it down by dietary type, meaning if you are low carb, low fat, maintenance, etc.

I am low carb and don’t go above 50gs of carbs a day.

So not figure out which way you want to go and then you can construct what you want to eat.

check out fitday.com to log your food.

I have a great spreadsheet that figures out all macro ratios.

remember per gram
protein = 4 cals
fat = 9 cals
carbs = 4 cals

you gotta count each one and not exceed your target cals.

3500 cals = 1 pound

if you want to lose weight, make sure you are in a caloric deficit, easy way is make sure you are in a deficit of 500 cals a day that is 1lb a week.

now you’ve figured out your cals, you can figure out what to eat. fitday.com can help, and if you want a good spreadsheet I can send you mine.

best of luck

and another thing

you are on a diet, you are trying to lose weight, you are going to feel hungry.

it sucks but you are trying to lose weight so that is part of things.

splitting your meals up into smaller more frequent meals may help with that as will drinking a lot of water

but… you are going to feel hungry and you will survive

Thanks, everyone.I have had a lot of experience losing weight, but never when lifting. I also have a good deal of experience maintaining weight loss.

What I have NO experience with is how much I need to eat when lifting like this. What I have been reading seems like a crazy amount of calories. It also seems, from what I read that losing fat and building muscle are not complimentary efforts. Yes?

Yes, I read those articles and am trying to observe it all. But thought I would ask the women, since men and women have differing nutritional needs.

Have to admit, I am gonna have a HARD time giving up the carbs…I find myself gravitating to the views that say carbs are not evil, lol…

Again, thanks for all the info.

Losing fat and gaining muscle certainly be complimentary! Muscle is very metabolic. John Berardi is a big proponent of this. He is also the person who put together PN.

PN is definitely great and well worth the money, but if you can’t spend the money there are several articles by John Berardi that pretty much give you the general guidelines of PN. Here is a link to tailormade nutrition 1. There is also a 2nd and 3rd part to the article. You can just look those up separately. He also has several other articles on nutrition and lifting and how they can be complimentary in fat loss.

But just keep in mind, if you are starting from square one then you shouldn’t over think things. Just get started and learn as you go. Most importantly have fun. At the beginning, before your body is acclimated to working out and eating healthy, you will make quite a bit of progress, even if you aren’t doing everything “perfect.”

As for the fish oil, if you are already taking a lot for insomnia then you are on track!

Well I think you have gotten some great advice. That is what I like about the ladies at T-Nation, always willing to help and give you the knowledge they have obtained.

Keep the supplements simple. I definately would go with the fish oil. I myself gave up my multivitamin sometime ago. I don’t think that they are all that and many times have things we don’t need.

With the horrible stress that you have been under have you ever looked at the health of your adrenals. Stress is very taxing on them and with cortisol levels being screwed up, it can cause the sleep issues that you are having. I have adrenal fatique and my cortisol is low, so I have to supplement. I take 5-HTP for help with sleep and magnesium at night to help relax and sleep. Good to help muscles relax.

I think small baby steps in your case are in order. Start working out and start cleaning up your diet. Proteins will be your best friend and lower carb vegies and fruits. You don’t have to touch a protein shake, unless you want to. Heck many ladies here believe they rather chew their food then drink it and I am one of them, but once in awhile, when I am in a pinch for left over protein, I do down a shake.

Maybe log your foods for a few days and see where your calories are at and where you can clean them up. There are many programs here and many us have tried them all and have had to adjust or tweak them here and there. The diet has to be tweaked as you lose weight and get stronger, so expect adjustments. You just have to find the best one for you.

Nice to have you on board.

fitnesslady

Hey Crys

Sounds like you already have an idea of where you want to go and what you shouldn’t be eating so that is great.

PN is great and you can get a lot of info right here. Keeping it simple is the best. Burn more cals than you take in. The more whole, calorie dense foods, the better. Broccoli is your new best friend.

So how many calories are you shooting for each day?

Do you have any dietary restrictions?

If you decide to go low-carb, you don’t have to go so low-carb you end up in a psyche ward =)

Give me your numbers and any restrictions and we can work from there.

How many days a week are you working out? You would want more cals on those days.

I haven’t read all the posts yet…but here is my most simplest advice…DON’T make it COMPLICATED!!

Eat when hungry, stop when full! That way, your body is taking care of how many calories you get intuitively…Sitting down trying to type everything out, and figuring what and how much of each macro at what time is enough to make you GA-GA!!! At least it was for me!

Do one thing at a time, and the small changes will begin to add up…

FWIW- I don’t take anything other than fish oil at this time…in a month I have lost 7lbs!! (WOW,is that RIGHT?!) yep…and for me that is unbelievable…

We all start somewhere, and people here are more than willing to help…which is good and bad sometimes…in the end you have to find what works FOR YOU, no matter what so and so said or what Johnny or Susie is doing…trust me, that was ALL me about a year ago! :stuck_out_tongue: It’s good to question things though…to an extent

Hope to see you stick around!

Thanks! I am in the middle of moving about 80 miles from my current home, and right now my workouts consist of packing and moving boxes. Anyone need a ceramic christmas house? My late husband left me a collection of about 300! Yikes!

I am only doing about 30 min of cardio in my living room right now in the mornings, using exercise dvds I had. I am giving the kickboxing one a miss though, since that was the one I was doing when I tore my meniscus and had to have the knee surgically repaired. I have no weights at home–my NEW home has a professional level gym in the garage. Yay! The move will be accomplished by the end of the month.

I have been informed by my personal trainer that I will be lifting three times a week, doing cardio three times a week, and having one day of rest. I will be starting out slower, I assume. I have decent lower body strength, upper body is pathetic. If I recall correctly, I can leg press over 300 lbs, but I can only bench press around 65…sad, hm? I don’t remember any of the other numbers.

The entire program has not yet been designed. I will start posting once I start actually DOING something again!

I have not yet figured out the calories I am aiming at yet. I also need to discuss this with my trainer. He has a lot of experience with sort of thing. We have not yet figured out my body fat (now THAT is gonna be fun–NOT), lean muscle mass, etc.

I think the most valuable advice I have gotten so far is to just not overthink things, and just START doing something and see what works.

Thanks for the warm welcome and expect to see me around.