Fitness Series: Nutrition and Documentation

Date: 2019-07-08

Time to Read: 8 Minutes



Photo By: unsplash-logoBruno Nascimento

What gets measured gets done.

In this post, I outline the guidelines that I use for my personal dieting and general nutrition. I’ll add this disclaimer, I don’t hold perfectly to a rigid diet. Fitness is a hobby and not my profession nor am I a professional athlete (and if I was, most of my fitness advice would not be as applicable for various reasons —read between the lines).

On nutrition there are two important acronyms that describe my methodology, IF and IIFYM.

  • IF - Intermittent Fasting, which basically describes my intraday meal timing methodology. I try to follow the very standard 8-hour feeding window/12-hour fasting window method. For example, if I eat my first meal at 12:00PM; I should eat my last meal before 8:00PM.
  • IIFYM - If It Fits Your Macro-nutrients, which assuming that you’re following a macro-nutrient allocation plan of the percentage of protein/carbohydrates/fats of your daily consumption, ignores the source of the food as long as your end-of-day breakdown still adheres to the allocation previously mentioned.

The second point is more controversial than the first; however there is some information that must be calculated first.

Many of these points are better explained here: Leangains Guide

First, I define my dieting plan, am I bulking (eating at a calorie surplus), cutting (eating at a calorie deficit), or maintaining (eating at my maintenance level of calorie intake). Once you have determined your dieting goal, you calculate your BMR (I use the Katch-McArdle formula which takes into account your lean body mass rather than simply just your body weight and I calculate my lean body mass by a rough estimate of my body fat percentage).

Next I calculate my total daily energy expenditure by multiplying my BMR by 1.55 which is the multiplier for moderate exercise 3-5 times a week. This is a rough estimate on how many calories I burn daily.

More resources on this can be found here: BMR and TDEE

Now based on my goal (e.g., bulking, cutting, maintaining), I choose a multiplier (e.g., 15% for bulking, -15% for cutting, 0% to maintain) to determine the base amount of calories to eat on a daily basis. To further complicate things, you can switch up your macro-nutrient and calorie intake between your “training days” and “rest days”, where your “training days” require more calories (120% of your previously calculated calorie total) and your “rest days” require less calories (80%…).

Similarly, your macro-nutrient allocation breakdown will include more carbohydrates and less fat on “training days” and vice versa on “rest days”. However, if you want to keep it really simple (and I don’t blame you), you could simply just eat the previously calculated calorie total consistently throughout the week and simply keep the macro-nutrient allocation at around 50% - Protein, 30% - Carbohydrate, 20% - Fat where the percentage denotes the percentage of calories that you receive from each macro-nutrient.

Lean Gains Calculator for Macro-Nutrients Based On Goals: Leangains Macro Calculator

I try to aim to lose 1lb or gain 1lb per week based on my goals. If I have gained/lost 5lbs or my weight hasn’t changed in a couple of weeks or more, I’ll revisit and recalculate the various totals described above.

Let’s run through the methodology with a real example (me):

I am weighing 230lbs with a bodyfat percentage estimated to be 18% and I want to lose weight (More specifically, I’d like to get to 8-10% bodyfat).

Starting Weight Bodyfat % BMR TDEE Goal Multiplier Adjusted Total
230lbs 18% 2222 3444 -15% 2927

Now to break down the calorie intake and macro-nutrients on “training” and “rest days”.

Training Day Rest Day
Calories 3512 2342
Protein 226g (26%) 226g (39%)
Carbs 504g (57%) 83g (14%)
Fat 66g (17%) 123g (47%)

You may be thinking, “This seems like a lot to keep up with.” and it kinda is which brings me to the next section of this post.

Documentation of continuous progress (or regress in some cases)

How do I track my workouts, my progress, and my nutrition? I try to accomplish this all in one consolidated spreadsheet which I will share at the end of this post.

This spreadsheet has four primary parts (or sheets):

The first sheet is the Journal sheet. The Journal is responsible for daily/weekly workout, nutrition, body metric detail tracking. Each column represents a week in the Journal and a collection of eight rows is used to collect information for that specific weekdays (starting on Sunday) such as: workout notes, cardio, mobility or accessory workout notes, # of calories eaten, % of protein, % of carbohydrates, % of fat, and morning body weight.

Once this information is filled out for the week, the following weekly statistical information is created: average morning bodyweight, minimum bodyweight, maximum bodyweight, average calories eaten, average protein percentage, average carbohydrate percentage, average fat percentage, # of recorded days, # of days with nutrition information collected, # of days where cardio was performed, # of days where the morning weight was recorded.

The current journal is set up to track six consecutive weeks of information but it can be expanded by simply using copy/paste. Once however many weeks have been recorded to perform a “cycle”, at the bottom of the journal is the following cycle-wide statistics such as: # of recorded days, # of days where nutrition was recorded, # of days where cardio was performed, diet days percentage, cardio days percentage, average calories consumed, average protein percentage, average carbohydrate percentage, and average fat percentage.

MyFitnessPal makes it easy to track your daily nutrition.

So now that you have all of the information from your cycle contained in your journal, it is time to move to the second sheet which tracks the larger scope Athletic Progress where each row represents a workout cycle and each column tracks a metric that we’re measuring over a larger scope of time on a per-cycle basis.

What cycle information are we interested in?

  • Start/End Date of the cycle.
  • Starting/Ending Morning Bodyweight.
  • Minimum Maximum Morning Bodyweight.
  • Average Total Calories.
  • Average Percentage of Protein, Carbohydrates, Fat.
  • Number of Recorded Days in the cycle.
  • Percentage of those days that cardio was performed.
  • Percentage of those days that nutrition was recorded.
  • The workout routine for that cycle.
  • Calculated 1RM for Bench Press, Overhead Press, Squat, and Deadlift (as well as heaviest set performed).
  • Best 3 mile run.
  • Vertical Jump
  • Maximum # of Pull-Ups, Dips, Muscle-Ups, Handstand-Pushups, Pistol Squats Performed.
  • Maximum time held in a Front Plank, L-Sit,
  • Body Measurements
  • Cycle-specific Notes

As you can probably tell, that’s a large amount of varying metrics considered for each row of cycle information and sometimes that information simply isn’t recorded due to the nature of the workout for that cycle. These rows of information are further segmented by a row that denotes a change in goals (bulking to cutting, vice versa).

In these cases, the columns store different information such as:

  • Bodyweight change over the collection of cycles (average amount gained/loss per week).
  • Total Calorie change over the collection of cycles (average calories intake).
  • Same as above but for percentage of each macro-nutrient: protein, carbohydrate, fat.
  • Same as above but for number of recorded days, diet days, and cardio days.
  • Change in 1RM and working weight for each primary lift.
  • Change in body measurements.

The Athletic Progress journal is meant to store just that, an all-encompass collection of athletic metrics including nutrition, lifting, cardio, and body measurements.

The next sheet is more specific to the 5/3/1 workout program discussed in the previous post. This is the AMRAP Journal. Each week in the 5/3/1 workout program’s cycle, a AMRAP set is performed for each primary lift. I store that information in this sheet.

Each row represents a week while each column stores the following information:

  • Ending date for that recorded week.
  • AMRAP Set and Calculated Maxes for each primary lift (Overhead Press, Deadlift, Bench Press, Squats).
  • Average Bodyweight for that week.
  • Minimum/Maximum Bodyweight for that week.

This sheet is also color-coded to help visually show the progression and regression of AMRAP sets and calculated maxes.

The final sheet is responsible for storing all information relevant to my current programming and dieting. This includes:

  • The warm-up/working set weights for each primary lift based upon the 1RM and Training Maxes as discussed in the first post in this series.
  • A calculator available to calculate the weights for the 5x10 “Boring But Big” accessory set weights.
  • A Joker Sets Calculator.
  • Workout Day Order Layouts
  • Week-specific Accessory Exercise Selection
  • Nutritional Diet Calculators as discussed above.
  • Calisthenics Workout Information and Current Scale Factors as previously discussed.

Obviously this is the busiest sheet in the spreadsheet since it contains all information relevant to workout programming, weight and exercise selection, and nutrition. It is essentially my reference sheet while I am working out so that I know which weights to use and which exercises to perform.

Since this spreadsheet is hosted on the cloud, I can reference it and update it while I am at the gym as I am working out.

To finish this series, it’s important to understand the role that fitness should play in your life. As you begin to track your progress and set your goals, whatever they may be, it becomes easy to allow yourself to place more of an importance in your performance in the gym than the activity deserves. Unless you’re a fitness professional (strength athlete, model, bodybuilder, athlete, etc), you shouldn’t allow your lack of success in meeting that day’s workout goals bleed into the rest of your day’s performance. I write this, primarily because I often find myself falling into this trap. Similarly, you should try to not allow that day’s issues affect your mentality or performance in the gym.

Best of luck

You can view the journal here: Google Sheets Link

Fitness Series

03 February, 2020
A short series detailing my current workout regimen and how I document and track my progression toward fitness goals.
View All 4 Posts
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Blake Adams is a writer, software developer, technical consultant, and financial independence enthusiast living in Oxford, MS.

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