I would like to know more about the daily nutrition practices of the "main players" at Gym Jones. I am referring to James, Johnny, Mark, Rob, Lisa etc. I understand that implementing the 6 meal a day approach to be highly recommended for those wishing to do any serious body recomposition, but what about the athletes. For the most part, are the guys at Gym Jones following the 6 meal a day approach or more of a 3, 4 or 5 meal a day kind of approach. Or just basically listening to their bodies and eating when they are hungry. Trying to get in 6 meals a day really does my head in, I feel like I am thinking about food all day. At the other end of the spectrum I have toyed with IF, but I am just too active for that approach to be effective for the long term. What are your thoughts on this topic? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Is it possible to share also James' personal dietary practices in regards to number of meals per day and approximate calories. My body specs are almost the same and I am curious as to his habits. I feel like I am crossing the line a little, but I am curious and there is no harm in asking - you can always say no.
Sometimes we will have several answers between us and today was one of them. The coffee kicked in for me especially well today. Rob sent along the basics but when I read the question I was intrigued enough by one of the points to address it as well.
In terms of nutrition it is better to have 5-6 feedings a day.
Basically it amounts to eating every 3 hours. It should not be that difficult once the habit is established. Not all feedings need to be full meals. Some could be snacks. In general guys at the gym follow a few rules which I will outline for you:
1) Eat small meals frequently throughout the day (5-6 feedings)
2) Every meal eat fat, protein and carbohydrate. The protein should be a high quality clean protein, the fat should ideally come from mono and polyunsaturated sources (but don't avoid saturated fats completely), and the carbohydrates should ideally come from fruit/vegetable sources with a high fiber content)
3) Every meal try to eat these three macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) in roughly equal caloric value
4) As for supplements we recommend people take fish oil, a multivitamin, and anti oxidant compound and vitamin C, and drink a LOT of water
5) Caloric intake depends on goal (If you want to get bigger you need to eat a lot of food. End of story)
6) One more thing, make sure you are eating high quality food. (Oreo cookies and French Fries are not good calories, Etc.)
James follows these rules but with the caveat that he eats as much as he can to maintain his weight. Once again caloric intake depends on goal. Nutrition is as important as the training itself so ensure you are on track.
The point I picked up from the question is the difference between eating for body re-composition (I took this to mean gaining mass) and the way an athlete eats. Both objectives might be attained using the same method, eating 6x per day for example but caloric intake would differ and the way one trains in the first place would depend on the objective as well.
The fellow who wants to put on size would lift more volume (more reps, more sets, less weight), sometimes train to failure, and have a hyper-caloric intake. He would stay away from training efforts that induce a long-term post-exercise energy demand, which is difficult to account for when adjusting caloric requirements. The example being short, high-intensity circuits, hard intervals, etc. There's more but this is a reasonable overview.
The fellow who wants to maintain a particular body weight, a fighter or endurance athlete for example, while at the same time increasing strength, power, and power-endurance could also eat 6x per day but restrict caloric intake: no more than 500 per feeding, snacks of 200-300, and dial-in the diet to avoid rapidly absorbed sugars, reduce alcohol, etc. In the beginning this can take a lot of attention and energy, as you noted. Practice it enough and it becomes habit, automatic, and requires no further energy. I personally hate to be thinking about food all of the time - for whatever reason - so I did the work, built the habits, and now I simply note the guidelines from time to time but otherwise let it ride.
It must be said that "no one gets bigger by training here". A superlative but generally true. The sort of training we do (low weight - high rep circuits cycled or combined with intervals and heavy weight - low rep lifting, as well as long endurance efforts) does not produce size. In fact, the opposite. Because power-to-weight ratio is our overarching ideal the training is perfect for the objective. However, Rob needs to be a particular weight to fight and couldn't maintain it by training that way so we adjusted his training schedule and diet during the last 6 weeks to put back the size he had lost. Johnny, James, Paul, Josh, and myself all try to maintain or lose size/weight. Johnny is on a relatively calorie-restricted diet. Paul is trying to make 170 at 6'3" so he needs to walk at 180 and he eats similar to Johnny. James struggles to keep weight on, even though he is constantly eating (constantly). I am trying to shed upper body muscle mass because it's the only way to lose weight since I glide between 3-5% body fat. Josh is also on the losing program because the bike demands it. Everyone eats "clean" but no one tweaks macro-nutrient ratios or adheres to a strict dietary regime other than that governed by calories, or making sure they get enough carbs to replenish muscle glycogen, which can't be done on a Zone or strict Paleo diet.
Intermittent Fasting doesn't work for any of the main players. The fighters are training 10-13 times per week, which means two and sometimes three sessions per day (gym and sport-specific), and recovery between training sessions is paramount, which means constant intake. The endurance athletes train less frequently but at very high volume and cannot recover or schedule the feedings around training sessions on such a diet (IF).
So, it will take some trial and error to find the ideal eating plan for you, an individual. The points laid out in the first reply are a fine guide to begin with but beyond that you are an experiment of one, and what works for your body weight, metabolic rate, training volume and intensity, recovery management and myriad other factors will have an individual influence. Read the signposts but carve your own path.