Hey guys welcome back to Sweet Machine Fitness!
Over the years and even before we started this website, we’ve received a TON of questions regarding fitness, especially in the areas of dieting, nutrition, and supplementation (some general, some about us). It’s hard to answer everyone, so we decided to take the most frequently asked questions on the subject and make this Q and A nutrition guide!
We cover a lot of bases here, but if you still have questions that are left unanswered after this article feel free to leave it in a comment below and we will do our best to update the article and get an answer for you! Bookmark this page and keep checking back for updates.
With so many different eating plans out there, which one is best for me?? Intermittent fasting, 6 small meals, flexible dieting or IIFYM, clean eating, ketogenic, balanced, etc.
We (amongst many others we have talked to) have both had great results in terms of staying lean and getting healthy from following a combination of intermittent fasting and flexible dieting styles of eating and have promoted them A LOT here on Sweet Machine Fitness. At the same time however, we understand that while it works for us, it really boils down to everyone’s individual needs. So experiment with each for a few weeks at a time and see what works best for you! If whatever diet you’re following is making you miserable, switch it up and try another. You’re much more likely to crash and give up on fitness if you aren’t enjoying yourself. Health and fitness is a lifelong journey so you want to find something that works the most realistically into your lifestyle in the long term.
As for low carb or ketogenic dieting, we believe that all 3 macronutrients are important for achieving a balanced diet and your physique goals. So unless you have some sort medical condition where your doctor has you on low to zero carbs, we believe there’s no benefit to omitting one macronutrient from your diet.
What are macronutrients? Can I really eat anything when I track them?
Macronutrients, or macros, are the protein, carbohydrates, and fats that make up the caloric content of food. Each has it’s own specific job. The caloric combination of macros is where the mysterious total number of calories comes from.
* 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
* 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
* 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
When tracking your macros, it’s no longer just about how many calories you are consuming, it’s a combination of the calories you’re taking in and the macros you’re hitting. Where your calories and macros come from is important too; you could be following a 1,500 calorie diet and be eating complete garbage, making no progress. OR you could be eating 1,500+ calories made up of nutritious lean meats, a mix of complex and starchy carbs, healthy fats, and fruits and veggies with the occasional tracked indulgence and moving forward towards your goals.
When you are eating a balanced diet, cravings will also go away because your body is no longer being deprived of any single macronutrient group. There will be an energy increase, sleep improvement, and overall better body composition.
How do I track them?
You could always try and eyeball everything you eat, but unless you’ve already been training and dieting for a while and really know your foods and your
body, this method will set you up for failure. With eyeballing, there’s always the possibility of not eating enough, or overeating and setting yourself further back from the finish line.
So our advice is this… Invest in a food scale and don’t eat anything unless it’s been measured! This is the only way to be accurate with everything you’re eating for the day.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive, we have a cheap digital scale similar to this one and its lasted us for a few years now.
And course you don’t have to weigh everything forever, over time you’ll learn the art of eyeballing your food and become pretty accurate with it but if you’re a newbie to training and dieting, weighing out all of your food will help get you ahead of the game.
Thanks to the internet, keeping track of what you’re eating has been made even easier through the use of helpful websites and apps. MyFitnessPal is a great free app available on both iPhone and Android. It allows you to customize how many meals you are eating and gives you a breakdown of how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat are in each meal. At the end of the day a pie chart will be given to you allowing you to visualize the percentage of each macro and how balanced your meals were.
Cron-o-meter is another great one that gives a good breakdown of your micronutrient intake.
How much protein do I need a day?
This might come as a shock to some of you but you actually DON’T need as much protein as we’ve been told by the fitness magazines since 1975. Yeah you heard us. It’s not that protein isn’t important for muscle growth and definition, it’s just that the amounts recommended are a bit overkill.
The amount of protein truly needed according to scientific evidence greatly varies between the individual! This study shows that for the average inactive person, a mere .36 grams/pound of bodyweight is the bare minimum needed to maintain muscle strength and mass. But we’re not average people now are we?
We’re warriors. If you’re an avid follower of Sweet Machine Fitness, chances are you’re killing it in the gym 3-6 days a week, putting forth max effort and striving for your personal best! For athletes, gym goers, and even those who work hard manual labor alike, that small amount of protein will have burnout and overtraining knocking at you door.
So how much per day for the physically active?
Studies have shown that we need anywhere from .75g/pound to .82g/pound at most, which still a far cry less than the 1-1.5g/pound that we’ve been told we need to take in by the fitness industry for years (source). This leaves plenty of room in our diets for carbohydrates and fat, both equally important for your health and physique goals.
So for a lean and mean 180 pound bodybuilder, 135-148 grams of protein a day is sufficient. Any more than that shouldn’t hurt, but is definitely isn’t a necessity.
What about carbs and fat?
Now that we know our minimum and maximum daily protein requirements, lets talk a little bit about carbs and fat!
Carbs and fat are both important to not only a healthy physique but also maintaining proper hormone functioning. So as stated earlier in this article, unless directed by a doctor for a specific health issue, we’d recommend against going too low or omitting either one of these macronutrients.
As for the amounts to consume, calories in vs calories out is what’s most important for body composition. So as long as protein requirements are being met, the amounts of carbs and fat being taken in per day doesn’t matter AS MUCH and can fluctuate depending on what you’re craving and how you’re feeling! How’s that for the ultimate flexibility with your diet??
Some do well with higher carbs and moderate-low fat especially on intense training days, while others do well on higher fats and moderate carbs. It’s up to you to experiment and see what makes YOU feel your best.
How often can I cheat on my diet?
If you’re brand new to the fitness game and started working towards a healthy lifestyle, I’d suggest waiting a full 3 weeks before giving into your cravings and allowing yourself to cheat on your diet. It takes 21 days to make a habit, so that first 21 days should be focused on hitting your macros and eating healthy.
After that, throwing in a cheat meal more often won’t hurt you and may actually be what your body needs to kick your metabolism into high gear! Some people do well to have one cheat meal a week while others have one every 3 or 4 days and still maintain an impressive physique. Some are even disciplined enough to only have cheat meals on special occasions such as holidays and family events, spending the rest of the year sticking to their eating plan! Everyone is different so experiment and see what works best for you!!
It’s important to make sure and not go TOO overboard with a cheat meal and turn it into a whole cheat day or cheat weekend. While one big unhealthy meal is harmless, making it too frequent of a habit will set you back or even gradually pull you back into an unhealthy lifestyle.
It can also be very helpful to still track macros on a day you’re having a cheat meal, because the bottom line in body composition is calories in vs calories out and if you track accurately, you can avoid allowing your cheat meal to become a binge eating session at all. This is the beauty of flexible dieting 😉
What are micronutrients?
Micronutrients or “micros” are the vitamins and minerals found in the foods you eat. A deficiency in any of these can lead to an array of health problems down the road, so be sure not to skip not on your fruits, veggies, and quality meats!!
Even with a diet full of nutrient dense foods the possibility for a micronutrient deficiency can still exist, so we both supplement with a quality multivitamin just to be safe and know that everything is covered.
What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
Both of us follow a pretty flexible eating plan, so our days of eating are always similar as in they’re made up of 80% nutritious whole foods and 20% of daily calories from “extras” including condiments or the occasional treat meal such as pizza or ice cream. We believe that moderation is the key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle without going off the deep end and getting fed up with too strict of a lifestyle. Luke’s is pretty centered around foods to add mass and maintain high testosterone naturally (see 7 foods I don’t go without), while Rhianna typically eats a lower fat diet made up of lean meat and healthy carbs.
Typical day of eating for Luke:
Meal 1: Early afternoon breakfast
- 4 eggs cooked in 1/2 tbsp butter
- 2 leftover baked potatoes cut into chunks and pan fried, oatmeal, or rice
- Handful of prunes, raisins, or banana
- Glass of pomegranate juice
Meal 2: Early evening/post workout
- 6-8oz ground grass fed beef made into burgers, taco meat or chili, or 6-8 oz chicken if Rhianna makes it
- 3-5 potatoes cut into french fries and baked or 2-3 cups of white rice
- Spicy guacamole or other fat source
- Peppers and onions
- Cheese and sour cream as toppings
Meal 3: Close to bedtime
- Heaping cup of oatmeal
- Raw honey or brown sugar
- 1 packet gelatin
- More raisins, bananas, or prunes
Note: I don’t always track my macros so I don’t have a definite daily total but once or twice a week I’ll log what I eat into a macro tracker and my calories always range from 2,800-3,000. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing food so now it’s easy to stay in a healthy range for what my body needs without having to weigh everything out.
Sample day of eating for Rhianna:
- Liquid b12
- CLA 1000mg
- L-Carnitine 500mg
- Vitamin code RAW multivitamin
- 16oz unsweetened coffee with granulated stevia (Off season I used 4 tbsp fat free half n half, and sugar free vanilla)
- 1 scoop PEScience protein 1 carb waffles
- 1/2 oats (1/4 unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, dash of granulated stevia/vanilla)
- 4-6oz grilled chicken
- 1-2 cup vegetables
- 1/2 cup rice or 4-6oz baked potato/sweet potato
- 4-6oz grilled chicken or lean meat
- 1-2 cups vegetables
- 1/2 rice or 4-6oz baked potato/sweet potato
- 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
Do you guys take any supplements? Are there any that you would recommend?
Supplements can be helpful but they definitely aren’t a necessity for your health and fitness goals. If the claim on the bottle sounds too good to be true it probably is.. or contains some new drug that hasn’t been evaluated and taken off the market yet. Don’t waste your money on false claims. The truth of the matter is nothing really beats a solid diet made up of nutrient dense whole foods to complement a well set up training routine.
With that being said, there are actually quite a few supplements out there that can be beneficial, whether to fix micronutrient deficiencies, help in stress management, digestive aid, or for the simple convenience of a quick meal on the go. Supplements aren’t all bad, they just shouldn’t be abused or thought as something that they’re not. We don’t use a whole lot of them, but we’ll share with you what we do take.
Here’s what we use:
Luke’s micronutrient, stress lowering, test boosting stack:
- Raw One for Men Multivitamin-With our fast paced society its easy to end up with a micronutrient deficiency due to the fact that we’re always on the go and not every meal is 100% balanced and home cooked. So for that you really can’t go wrong with a solid micronutrient supplement. Raw one for men is a great choice because all of the nutrients are derived from organic fruits and vegetables as opposed to other sources. Fixing micronutrient deficiencies is a great step towards wellness. Here is a link to the stuff I use.
- Liquid Vitamin D-Even with a the addition of my multivitamin which contains 800iu of vitamin D, blood work has shown that I still have a deficiency so I still need a little extra. And it’s to no surprise too, humans are designed to spend their time outdoors soaking up the sunlight rather than in buildings or in front of computer screens all day. Vitamin D helps protect the body from certain illnesses (source), aids in the battle against depression (source), and can even help maintain higher testosterone levels in men (source). So check with a doctor and see if you have a deficiency or if vitamin D supplementation is right for you. I choose liquid over pill form, because it is easier absorbed into the body that way. You can get 900 servings here.
- Ashwagandha-Ashwagandha is an herbal supplement that can be taken in the form of a pill or a powder and has a TON of different health benefits! Studies have shown that ashwagandha is great for relieving stress by reducing cortisol, is anti-anxiety properties, has anti-depressant properties, is a sleep aid, and for men will actually act as a better natural testosterone booster than most “test booster” supplements on the market!! (source) This is the brand I use.
- Magnesium oil-Magnesium is another supplement that is full of benefits, helping with heart rhythm and blood pressure regulation, protein synthesis, and better sleep quality and actually does make a huge difference! Like Vitamin D and Ashwagandha, magnesium oil is also great for testosterone production, increasing free testosterone levels by 24% in certain studies (source). I use 6-8 sprays of this brand per leg before bed and rub it in to help me sleep deep throughout the night.
Rhianna’s overall health and lean muscle stack:
- Raw One for Women Multivitamin-Same as above just formulated for women! Great brand to fix micronutrient deficiencies. You can buy some here.
- PEScience Protein Powder-Even though we don’t need as much protein as the fitness industry has led us to believe, it is still helpful to have a good source of protein on the go! PEScience is the best tasting protein I’ve tried, period.
- CLA-Related to the omega-6 fatty acids, one of the two types of essential fatty acids that help the body increase metabolic rates, boost the immune system and keep cholesterol levels in check. You usually get this from eating red meats, but again I cannot due to food allergies, and digestion issues.
- Acetyl L-Carnitine-An amino acid that helps support brain function, reduced fatigue, also serves as an appetite suppressant (though I have never noticed it help in this area).
- Liquid Vitamin B12-The b12 I take sublingually for my folic acid deficiency because my body does not absorb the nutrients from food at all!
- Dandelion root extract-Aids in detoxing my liver which does not digest enzymes properly from having Gilbert syndrome. Also works as a natural diuretic to help keep bloat and water weight off!
- Now Foods Probiotic-10 50 Billion-Great to balance gut bacteria and aid in digestion. Now’s probiotics give you a high quality product at a reasonable price.
- Magnesium-Same benefits as Luke’s I just take it in pill form!
- The best diet out there is the one that fits best in your lifestyle and is sustainable in the long term! Intermittent Fasting and flexible dieting are pretty damn awesome and we have gotten great results from following them, but just because they work for us doesn’t mean that they’re right for everyone. Experiment and find out what’s best for you.
- Macronutrients are the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that make up the food you eat.
- Invest in a decent digital food scale (like this one) and use apps like MyFitnessPal and sites like Cron-O-Meter to accurately track everything you’re eating.
- Contrary to popular belief, athletes, gym goers, and manual laborers actually only need .75-.82g of protein per pound of lean bodyweight to build and maintain muscle! So save some money by not eating as much meat and drinking as many shakes!
- Fill up the remaining calories in your day with a healthy balance of carbohydrates and fats, not omitting either macronutrient unless directed by your doctor or healthcare provider!
- If you’re new to the game, don’t cheat on your diet for at least 21 days. After that, the occasional treat meal is ok once or twice a week. Just track those macros so you don’t go overboard!
- Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals in the foods you eat, so don’t neglect your leafy greens and fruit! We add a quality multivitamin into our eating plans to make sure all bases are covered.
- Supplements can be helpful but most definitely are not essential to maintaining a healthy fit body.
Thanks for the read, we worked hard on this one! Keep your eyes open for our upcoming Sweet Machine Fitness training guide as well! If you have any other nutrition questions that weren’t answered here be sure to leave them in a comment below and we will do our best to answer them in a timely fashion and add them into this guide. God bless!!
-Luke and Rhianna