Nutrition (Advanced)

This page is going to cover several topics in nutrition. We appreciate that there’s a lot of rubbish on the internet. We aim to clear up some of those rumours and truths. We’ve tried to avoid any kind of “bro-science” by getting sourced material only. The main source of this information at the moment is the Physiology of Exercise For Physical Education and Athletics, Fourth Edition, by Herbert A. deVries. All the studies backing up the information is towards the bottom of the page. For the most part we haven’t given definitive answers to questions rather we’ve stated what the evidence shows.

The three main things we will go over are:

1   Weight Gain and Loss

  • Maintenance Calorie Level
  • Technical Mumbo Jumbo
  • To Lose Weight
  • Common Misconceptions
  • Metabolic Rates
  • Losing the Love Handles
  • Carbohydrates or Fats?

  2   Quality of Protein

  • Vegetarianism
  • Gaining Weight

    3  Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

1: Weight Gain and Loss

Maintenance Calorie Level
At the end of the day you will gain weight if your caloric intake is greater than the amount of calories you’re burning. There is a certain level of disingenuous media outlets and self proclaimed “fitness gurus” that produce charts saying that one would have to run or cycle etc. so many kilometres in order to burn off a chocolate digestive or a bourbon. The issue comes with the implication that if you eat however many jammy dodgers you will gain some amount of fat and you’ll have to do circuits around the M25 to burn it off. This intense amount of Fitness is covered later.

The fat growth however assumes that you’ve reached your maintenance calorie level (your maintenance calorie level is the amount of calories that you can eat in a day to maintain your weight) before eating this jammy dodger. Your body will require a certain number of calories in order to function and a sedentary person will be able to eat a certain amount of hobnobs before any weight is gained. The level will vary depending on several things including how active you are. There are various different maintenance level calculators on the internet none of which we can back.

Technical Mumbo Jumbo
When the energy intake exceeds the energy expenditure, the extra energy is stored as fat. 1g of fat is roughly equivalent to 9.3 kcal. Allowing for the water content and connective tissue in fat tissue, 1 lb of fat will be gained if there is an excess of 3,500 kcal. Similarly if you are 3,500 kcal bellow your maintenance level then 1 lb of fatty tissue would’ve been lost. If one went 100 kcal bellow their maintenance level every day for 35 days, or 350 kcal everyday for 10 days, 1 lb of weight would be lost.

To Lose Weight
Planned regular exercise such as walk/jog combination is a feasible method of weight reduction in the obese even in the absence of any dietary restriction. It has been well demonstrated by Moody, Kollias, and Buskirk (9). Obese college-age women lost on the average 5.3 lbs over 8 weeks during which they participated in about an hour of walking/jogging for an average of 4 times per week.

Skinfold measurements suggested a weight loss of fatty tissue with a gain of solid tissue (fat-free weight). Fasting, however, has been shown to result in weight losses that are largely losses in lean body tissue. The lean body mass lost during fasting appears to be from 8% (10) to between 30% and 45% (11, 12) of the total weight loss.
Zuti and Golding (13) have shown the advantages of including exercise in weight reduction programs; 25 women were randomly assigned to a diet group, an exercise group, or a combination of the two. In each case, a negative caloric balance of 500 kcal/day was established. All the women lost similar amounts of weight, but those who exercised lost more fat and gained lean tissue, while those on diet alone lost lean body mass and lesser amounts of fat.

Common Misconceptions
There’s some data that suggests that one needs to run for 35 miles or walk 36 hours or something equally arduous to lose 1 lb of body weight. 2 outstanding authorities in the area of nutrition, Mayer and Stare (14) , have debunked this apparent need for excessive exercise with experimental evidence to rectify other misconceptions. They have pointed out that it is unnecessary to expend the energy required to lose 1 lb in one exercise session. What’s more, “a half hour of handball or squash a day would be equivalent to 19 pounds per year”. Another general misconception is that exercise its not effective in weight reduction because appetite automatically increases in direct proportion to the increased activity. Mayer and colleagues (15) have shown that while appetite follows activity this is not true for low levels of activity. Sedentary animals actually show a decrease in appetite with an increase of up to 1 hour of daily exercise. This was backed up by Dohm and colleagues (16).

Metabolic Rate
There is an increase in metabolic rate during exercise which means that rate at which you expend energy increases. This increase is the main cause of energy loss. Margaria, Edwards, and Dill (17) mentioned an increase resting metabolic rate that lasted for several hours after completion of exercise and that could not be attributed to repayment of oxygen debt. It was found that the resting metabolic rate was from 7.5% to 28% higher 4 hours after a vigorous workout than it was at the same time of day on nonexercise days (18). The higher metabolic rate was shown to persist for at least 6 hours after exercise, this effect would have resulted in a weight loss of 4 or 5 pounds per year if the individuals tested had exercised daily.

After a few weeks of maintaining negative caloric balance the weighing scale can still remains the same due to water retention. It has been shown that even though body tissues are being oxidised and the end products excreted, the loss may not be shown by weight because water is retained by the tissues as a by-product of fat stores being metabolised. This water retention cannot continue indefinitely and the predicted weight change eventually occurs although it may not follow the day-to-day caloric deficit (19). Garden, Goldberg, and Chosy (20) have also demonstrated the water-binding effects of consuming an appreciable quantity of concentrated carbohydrate food. A severely obese man, who had been losing weight successfully, was given an 800g carbohydrate, 4,000 kcal per day diet for 2 days. He promptly gained 18 lbs, which which required 3 weeks to lose. The weight was shown to be water.

Losing the love handles
Many people want to lose weight in certain areas of their body for aesthetics reasons and are ill-advised to do so by spot reduction. Whereby if you want to lose fat around the abdomen, for example, you would do core exercises. Schade and associates (21) conducted an experiment on 22 overweight college women in which one group used spot reducing exercises and the other general exercise. They concluded there was no significant difference in the effect of spot and generalised exercise on fat distribution in their subjects. Conflicting evidence was reported by Olsen and Edelstein (22). The most convincing evidence on spot reduction is that tennis players whose playing arm showed a mean difference of 2.25 cm in girth (muscle hypertrophy) compared with the nonpaying arm showed no significant difference in skinfold dimensions (23). A study by Noland and Kearney (24) supports this position. Recent work at the cellular level confirms the ineffectiveness of spot reducing (25, 26). The best evidence available shows that when a person has a negative caloric balance the fat comes off the area of greatest concentration, regardless of how the exercise is performed. In other words, you won’t find someone with a dozen chins, cankles, and a 6 pack because he did a bunch of abdominal exercises. There’s also the misconception that if you eat no fat and a ton of protein you can only gain muscle and no fat. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Carbohydrate, fat, and protein follow the same final metabolic pathway and so fat and protein can substitute carbohydrate in furnishing energy. All 3 foodstuffs, if eaten in excess, can result in deposition of fat tissue.

A gain in weight is best accomplished by heavy resistance, low-repetition exercises where weight gain is brought about by muscular hypertrophy as is discussed in a later section.

Carbohydrate or Fat?
Although fat produces more than twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrate, it requires more oxygen for each calorie (213ml/cal of fat compared with 198/cal of carbohydrate). Increased muscular efficiency of up to 10% had been shown experimentally for high carbohydrate diets (54). It had also been shown experimentally that fatigue occurred earlier on high fat diets (55).

2: Quality of Protein
Of the 23 amino acids normally present in animal protein, only 13 can be synthesised in the cells. The other 10 must be supplied in the diet and are therefore called essential amino acids. The use of complete proteins (those that include all the essential amino acids) from milk and eggs and a varied use of meat solve the problem for those who for whatever reason do not eat animal products, the problem is more complicated.

Vegetarians can be well nourished if they include all essential amino acids in their diet through a diversity of vegetable produces such as leaves, seeds, roots, and fruits (56). The question then becomes; how much protein should I be consuming?

Gaining weight
Some people seem hard set on taking in hundreds of grams of protein and how they accomplish this without spending stacks on protein powder is beyond me but the other thing about this, that is lost on me, is what exactly they’re basing this on. Tarnopolsky et al. (112) have shown that with 0.86 g/kg/day there was no muscle growth. Here 0.86 g/kg/day means the subject took 0.86 grams of protein per kilogram of their total mass per day.  1.4 g/kg/day showed muscle hypertrophy, and 2.4 g/kg/day showed no improvement. Walberg et al (113) showed a negative nitrogen balance at 0.8 g/kg/day and positive balance at 1.6 g/kg/day. Since nitrogen in excreta indicates the amount of protein not being used in muscle hypertrophy, a negative nitrogen balance indicates that more protein could’ve been consumed and used for muscle growth. Another study by Tarnopolsky et al (114) showed that lean body mass was maintained at 1.05 g/kg/day. Lemon et al (115) showed that there was no difference in muscle growth between 2.62 g/kg/day. The studies agree with each other so much as there’s no muscle hypertrophy at about 0.8-0.86 g/kg/day, muscle mass is maintained at about 1.05-1.6 g/kg/day, and there’s no difference in muscle growth after 2.4-2.62 g/kg/day.

3: Vitamins and Minerals

More recent work (57) indicates that vitamin needs increase only in approximate proportion to metabolic activity. This ingestion of larger amounts of food as daily workout levels increase automatically provides the needed increase in vitamins (if the diet is healthy to begin with). Some investigators have claimed that vitamin supplementation has improved athletic performance in their subjects. However, when the proper controls are instituted, assuring that subjects are on an adequate diet before starting the experiment, these improvements in performance can no longer be demonstrated. Thus in all likelihood the reported improvements in performance because of vitamin supplements were the result of having improved previously inadequate diets. Trace quantities of mineral elements seem to be intimately connected with the body’s proper use of certain vitamins (56).

The table bellow shows the suggested minimum daily requirements for vitamin and minerals constituents (56).


As with vitamins, there’s no evidence that the need for minerals is increased in exercise beyond the increase brought about by the increased daily food consumption needed for the metabolic demands. There’s one important exception to this; while a normal diet provides sufficient mineral constituents for most athletes, distance runners (most specifically, young female distance runners) may in fact require iron supplementation. A diet high in iron sources such as meat, poultry, and fish (heme-iron) and non-heme iron foods such as dried peas and beans nuts, whole grain breads and cereals, leafy vegetables, eggs, and dried fruits should prevent iron deficiency problems. On the other hand, iron supplements should not be given routinely to athletes without medical supervision because of the possibility of inducing deficiencies of other trace minerals such as such copper and zinc. Also, a high iron intake can produce an iron overload (hemochrombtosis) (58).

It’s recommended from the text that you follow the following diet:

  1. It’s recommended to distribute the daily consumption of food over 3 regularly spaced meals. If weight gain (or prevention of weight loss) is desirable, an evening snack can be added.
  2. It’s also recommended to eliminate from the diet as much as possible foods that furnish only calories without contributing their share of vitamins and minerals (candy, cake, carbonated beverages, etc.). Use fruit and fruit juices for desserts and snacks instead of cokes or crisps.
  3. Eliminate tea, coffee and alcohol – except at socials then drink your sorrows away! Not only do these drinks usurp the place of more nutritious food, they may cause undesirable pharmacological effects such as decreased muscular efficiency and beer bellies.
  4. ​Avoid fatty foods-they slow peristalsis and therefore gastric emptying.
  5. Eat at least 2 servings daily of fresh fruit (one to be citrus or tomatoes).
  6. Eat at least 4 servings daily of vegetables, including leafy green vegetables (salads) and roots and tubers (turnips, beets, potatoes).
  7. Eat at least 3 slices of whole grain bread daily.
  8. Eat enough butter of fortified margarine to supplement item 7.
  9. Drink at least 3 glasses of milk daily (although Jacob goes on record not agreeing with this, if you want to do this make it full fat milk as it is the most nutritious).


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