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Designing and understanding diet 101.

This thread is not on dieting for crohns. I do not know what types of food you can and cannot tolerate. This thread will give you a better understanding on diet as it pertains to fitness. It will also teach you how to design a diet, by setting some guidlines for optimal results.
Diet is 60% of your success, when you are trying to make a change to your body composition through fitness. There for diet should require most of your attention when designing a fitness program. I can't stress enough how important this is. I've seen tons of people go into the gym for years on end, and look the same. This is because they have neglected the most important factor. Diet.

Myths of dieting.

Nutrition among all foods can be broken down into 3 macro nutrient categories : protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Together they form the basis of all diets, and along with exercise, ultimately form body composition changes in the body.

Proteins are the bodies building blocks for repair, growth and maintenance of muscular tissue. Proper intake of protein will result in the preservation of muscle tissue while you are dieting and losing fat. It will aid in recovery from strenious workouts, and daily activity. When you exercise you cause extensive damage to your muscle tissue, and subsequent growth requires adequate recovery. The lack of protein is often the missing factor in recovery. Without protein, muscle begins wasting, and decreases in metabolism will soon follow. Many woman clients would tell me "but I don't want to be all muscular like a bodybuilder". Without a significant increase in testosterone, becoming too muscular for a woman will never happen. What will happen if you don't include the right amount of protein in a workout regimen, is that you will just shrink, from burning extra calories. Your muscles will shrink too. So in essence you would become a smaller version of yourself, with the same % of body fat. To be toned, you need to maintain or increase muscle, while eliminating fat %. In bulking the same is true. You need extra protein for muscle to grow.

Myth # 1 : The RDA for protein sufficient.

The RDA, is the recommended daily allowance, and for protein that is .36 grams per pound of body weight. So for example - A 200lb man would require only 76 grams of protein throughout the day. The problem with the RDA is that it is the recommended amount for a person who is absolutely sedentary. When you are working out, your muscle are going to require an increased protein amount, to sustain or aquire growth. Studies have actually shown that consuming the RDA amount in protein during a day of intense weight lifting may lead to muscle tissue loss. Then you factor in crohn's and how much of that protein is actually being absorbed. How much do we absorb? I can't answer that. You would judge on how bad you condition is at the moment. If you are flaring then obviously you are absorbing less. However, if you are flaring bad, it is always best to rest, and put fitness on the back burner, until the storm clears.

Myth # 2 : Extreme carbohydrate diets (atkins)- (low fat diet)+

The body's primary source of energy is derived from carbohydrates. They are especially important in aerobic activities, and high volume weight training, and are also utilized during recovery. There is a lot of controversy in the amount of carbohydrates that one should ingest. You see low fat diets, that are high in carbs, and you see atkin diets that have little to no carb makeup. These are the general extreme carb diets. The fact remains that excess carbs, lead to extra inches on the waistline. The exception is people with a fast metabolism. For them calories consumption is almost always the goal, with a higher carb amount to squeeze out extra calories. I'm sure you have heard that our body stores extra carbohydrates as energy. However it is more likely that extra carbohydrates will be converted to fat storage. Studies have shown that identical improvements in body composition have been made from diets with a composed 60% of calories coming from carb sources, as diets composed with 40% of their source from carbs.
Atkins has been popular for years. Especially among bodybuilders! And it works....but only for shows. Let me tell you why. The reasoning why Atkins works, is that it can drastically drop water from your body, as carbs help to store water in the muscles. The less carbs you have the less bloat you have. Then comes a point where your body is looking for energy to burn, and it's prime source is not there anymore - you have stopped eating carbs. So what happens is your body starts finding alternate sources for energy. If your protein intake is high enough, the energy shouldn't come at much expense to your muscle. The majority of the energy will now be taken from fat storage. That is how the diet works in eliminating fat + water. The problem is that you also need carbs for your brain to function properly. You will find that in the middle of an Atkins diet, you usually feel EXTREMELY fatigued, very irritable, you won't be as sharp as you normally are. Worst of all, as soon as you slip and ingest carbs and bad food again, the weight comes back! Often the rebound results in a lot of fat gain, and very quickly. For that reason it is a bodybuilder diet, and that's it. For short term shows. Every bodybuilder on stage might look great, but trust me, they feel like dying when finally on stage lol. The key is in moderate to mod/low carbs for fat loss. The most importantly rule of all, is that you just need to create a calorie deficit somehow.

Myth # 3 : All fats are bad.

Too often have we heard that fats are bad. That is a big misconception in the reality of dieting. The body uses fat for energy, in a state of negative energy balance. An example would be Atkins diet, you would have an extremely low carb amount, but your fat intake would make up for the loss in calories. It would include high amounts of fats. In this case, the body wouldn't have carbs for energy, it would rely mostly on the fats you eat. That is how Atkins works. Truth is, as long as you are burning more calories working out, than then you are eating, it doesn't matter so much on the amount of fat intake. Studies have shown that fat loss can be achieved on diets that have a fat content from 10% - 50% of the total amount of calories, as long as that calorie amount is the same. The main goal of a diet, and the more important factor in losing fat is to make sure you are burning more calories, than you are consuming. Making sure your protein is high, and making sure you carbs and fats are not too low, or too high.
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Now that we have a better understanding about the different macro nutrient ratio, lets look at what type of carbohydrates of best for you.

All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. From there the glucose enters the bloodstream. The difference between various carbohydrates lies in how fast it takes them to brake down and enter that bloodstream. This absorption rate can make a huge difference in your energy level. It can also make a difference in the amount of fat that is gained, and in your overall health. The glycemic index measures how fast each and every carbohydrate enters the bloodstream after being broken down into glucose. Once the glucose enters the bloodstream, it can either be used as energy if needed, or stored as glycogen (reserved energy form). The higher the food is on the glycemic index, the quicker they are broken down and utilized for energy. The quick absorbtion of a high glycemic carbohydrate is a bad trait, because, such actions can trigger hormonal effects - increased insulin. See these high-glycemic carbs cause a rush of glucose through the bloodstream, which raises blood sugar levels. Thus causing the release of insulin. The insulin then pushes glucose out of your bloodstream, which in tern causes lethargic lows. Insulin in its rush, also takes the fatty acid energy source, and stores it in the fat cells - usually around the mid section. This is obviously what we do not want to happen. The glycemic index for a meal is different, because you have more than 1 glycemic variables. If you are eating a high glycemic food, and add a low GI food, you now have somewhat of a medium glycemic meal. So it slows down the absorption by adding that low GI food. This is a good reason to add carbohydrates to protein, so that you have a better chance in preserving, or adding muscle. Post workout is about the only time we want this insulin release. I always take in a High carb, high protein meal after a workout. So that those carbs shuttles the protein quickly to your muscles when they are in a time of need (post workout). Sugar also causes an insulin effect, but is not suitable for post workout. Nor is it favorable at all if you can help it.

Now to be able to know how many calories we need to eat, we need to know how many calories we are burning. First thing is you need to find out your BMR number. Your BMR is the number of calories you burn at a resting heart rate, in 1 day. So if you just sat on the couch all day, you would burn X amount (your bmr number) just from keeping your body functioning. To find out your general BMR number just google any bmr calculator. Then go an input your stats. Here is a random BMR calculator.


Write down you BMR number. Now we know how much you burn at a resting heart rate. We need to know how much you are burning with exercising and being active. To do this :

multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
• - If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2

• - If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375

• - If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55

• - If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725

• - If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Total Calorie Needs Example
If you are sedentary, multiply your BMR (1745) by 1.2 = 2094. This is the total number of calories you need in order to maintain your current weight.
Once you know the number of calories needed to maintain your weight, you can easily calculate the number of calories you need to eat in order to gain or lose weight: To gain weight, increase your maintenance calorie amount by 15% - 20%.

To lose weight, decrease your maintenance calorie amount by 15% - 20%.

So if your maintance calories are 2094, and you wanted to lose weight, you would try to consume around 1900 calories per day. . Ideally you would want to break your calorie target amount into 4 meals throughout the day. The more meals you have, the better your metabolizm will become. So 1900 diveded by 4 = 475 calories per meal. There are 4 calories for every gram of carbs, and for every gram of protein. There are 9 calories in every gram of fat. You generally want to get at least 1g of protein for every lb that you weigh. So if you weigh 160lbs, you would need 160g of protein per day. 160g protein x 4 calories per day = 640 calories needed from protein in 1 day. So 640 calories from protein divided by 4 meals = 160 calories should come from protein in each meal. So a meal of 475 calories - 160 calories to protein = 315 calories needed in each meal. These extra 315 calories should come from good fats and/or good carbohydrates (refer to carb section above) in their respective ratio's as mentioned (not too much fats, and not overly abundant in carbs. Carbs low on the glysemic index - oatmeal, brown rice, yams, ect. The glycemic index chart can be googled. Here is a random one.


Good fats from nuts, seeds, fish oil, flax oil, fish, tuna, olive oil ect.
Proteins from chicken, fish, eggs, red meat, turkey ect.

That is how you design a proper diet tailored towards your fitness goals. Factors to keep in mind. The leaner you are, the higher your calorie needs might be. So if you are a leaner person, start out with an extra 200 calories, no matter what your goal calories calculation might come out to be. If your crohn's is mildly, or moderately active, then you might want to adjust for some of the calories you might be missing out on due malabsorption.

This might seem like a lot of hard work, but if you can master this, you can accoplish 60% of what it takes to attain a total body composition transformation. The rest is easy. Good luck!
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Mr. Z....
I used to be very fit. I worked out 4 or 5 times a week with weights and 5 to 6 times a week doing cardio. I eat pretty much as outlined above. My issue is this, I was very ill several years ago and lost most of my muscle mass. This happened in '07-'08. I am still weak but I would like to get back to working out. I know walking is probably the best to start with but what else would you reccommend? I have never been this weak in my life.
There are many different things you can do to start back up. Wall-ball pushups, using a large stability ball are easy when done right. Ball-wall squats. Assisted pull-ups on the assisted pull-up machine (every gym has one). All beginning core exercises will be good in helping to regain strength. Cable curls. Cable push downs. Ball-wall exercises and core work is beginner level. Then you would progress to machines. From machines you would finally progress to weights. You are going to want to make sure than you have a balanced diet down for at least 2 days before you start. That way you optimize your energy levels when you get in there. Unfortunately no on wants to start right back up and join a gym. However, I always felt the quickest way to recovery, was to have all the neccerey tools (machines equipment) to make it happen. Swimming would be a great thing. Answering your question is a bit hard when I am not there to see for myself what kind of range of motion you have. If you need help designing a workout plan pm me some more information on what your restrictions are and I will help you.
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Thanks so much for taking the time to post all this info. I attempted a modified South Beach diet a few weeks ago only to discover I can't tolerate veggies every day, even meaty, overly cooked types. I'm rather excited to see this info as I've been wondering how to diet without so many veggies. It's the way I've always done it and couldn't get past that. I'd put it on the back burner until...I don't know what.

The good thing I discovered when I switched to lean protein, good fats, and low glycemic carbs was within days my sugar cravings vanished and my blood sugar remained stable all day. Those afternoon/evening energy crashes vanished along with an increase in my sense of well being so continuing this type of eating as above is something I'm going to pursue come January.