TIP#3.2 Mechanical Food vs Nutritional Food
The bottom line is that there are only a few types of food that actively help you achieve optimal body composition. See below for a list of nutritional food essential to health and mechanical food which can be useful for activity.
Low fat cottage cheese
Nuts + Peanut butter
Whey + Casein Protein Powder
Omega 3 Rich Oils
Sweet Potato (2)
White Potato (1)
White Rice (1)
Brown Rice (2)
Whole Grain (2)
High Fructose Fruit (1)
(+ any starchy foods) (1)
In the Nutritional Food column there is a list of food types that actively supply your body with a very high ratio of essential nutrients required for optimal health, strength gain, muscle gain and fat burn. They have a very high amount of nutrients relative to the amount of energy inside them. These foods mainly consist of Protein and Healthy Fat, and are also high in vitamins and minerals. They should be consumed in high amounts daily.
In the Mechanical Food column there are foods that have a very high amount of energy relative to the amount of essential nutrients within them. They are prodominantly not helpful for improving optimal health, strength gain, muscle gain and fat burn. They should be used in a purely mechanical way and not looked on as an absolutely vital part of your diet. They are carbohydrate rich foods and should make up no more than 20% of your daily calorie intake. Their mechanical use involves eating them for extra energy for fueling intense workouts, refilling depleted muscle glucose levels quickly after exercising, reducing cravings and sometimes improving muscle pump and fulness temporarily. This is the food type that can be slightly lowered or raised depending on your activity level on a particular day, Protein and healthy fat levels should remain consistent daily, 50% Protein, 30% fat. See below for indepth explanation of the mechanical benefit of carbs:
Extra Energy For Intense Workouts:
Although fat is a much more efficient source of energy in our bodies than glucose (carbs), we still use glucose during our workouts. If the body is already glucose depleted our workouts might be harder to perform at high intensity, and we might become tired quicker. We can use the carb rich food to help our bodies mechanically, by filling the muscles with glucose, so an energetic intense workout can be performed. The options marked (1) are relevant to this.
Refilling Depleted Muscle Glucose Levels:
After a workout our bodies will have used a lot of our stored glucose from our muscles, leaving the body depleted. Although our bodies will refill the glucose levels over time when we consume protein and fat, it can help if we feed the body carbohydrates so it can refill those levels quicker. This allows more of the nutrient rich foods like protein and fat sources to be used for muscle growth and repair. The options marked (1) are relevant to this.
Reducing cravings we have for sweet things and maintaining our peace of mind can be a powerful advantage when in pursuit of a goal. Although carbohydrate is a non-essential nutrient, our bodies can tolerate them in our diet in small amounts and therefore stave off our carb/sugar cravings by keeping us feel fuller after a meal. The options marked (2) are relevant to this.
Improving Muscle Pump and Fulness Temporarily:
Anyone who enjoys weight training will tell you that eating a lot of carbs prior to exercise makes muscles look bigger and feel more pumped in the gym. This is because not only is there more glucose in your muscles during the workout but this also drags and retains water into the muscle as well, making them look bigger when pumped up through exercise. It can be a useful tool if you require a big pump for a photoshoot or competition but you will have to experiment for the best results, as too much water in the muscles can reduce definition and vascularity. NOTE: This is an advanced technique and advice for an individual might differ for another.
I found that this way of thinking (Mechanical vs Nutritional) helps my clients understand the role of carbohydrate/glucose in the body and relieve confusion about how they should be eating. Half the battle is mental, so anything that can help make sense of confusing grey areas of nutrition, recovery and training can be a vast help in reducing stress or frustration.
Thank you for reading!
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