by Tony Gjokaj April 16, 2020 8 min read

What is the best diet? What is the best exercise to lose fat in your stomach? Despite our level of experience, we all have asked Google questions like this!

Here's the thing: nutrition is not black or white - it's gray. There are so many factors that go into building and managing a healthier lifestyle.

Most of the time, we tend to focus more on "miracle" supplements than understanding the diet... to me, this means our priorities are off!

This is why we developed our systematic approach to nutrition, with the Nutritional Priorities Pyramid. With this pyramid, we have the ability to build a proper foundation to fulfill our nutritional goals.

In this article, we will discuss each stage of our Nutritional Priorities Pyramid. In addition, we will add a supplementary article to each, reinforcing each step.

Without further ado, let's dive in!

The Nutritional Priorities Pyramid

 

The Nutritional Priorities Pyramid is our systematic approach to nutrition, leveled based on the priority of importance. If you can optimize one level, you can head to the next. As you continue up the pyramid, you can optimize the lifestyle you choose to have: feeling better physically and mentally! 

Let's breakdown each stage.

I. Adherence

Adherence is the most important of all priorities when it comes to nutrition. If you can’t stick to your diet, you’ll always fail.

Adherence to a specific diet can come from a variety of factors: preferences, genetics, and even habits. While we can't control all of these, we have the ability to control our habits.

Habits

Recall in a few of our previous articles: habits are formed through influencing our environment, and taking small incremental steps to accomplish your goals.

I. Environment

Lifestyle choices and our surroundings can have an impact on the foods we eat, the foods we prefer, and the diet we choose.

For example, the foods you grew up with and the culture we are around can vastly influence the foods that we eat. Trying to completely eliminate high-calorie cultural foods can be very difficult. However, restricting them into smaller portions or even minimizing the number of times you eat can actually make your diet or lifestyle change more manageable.

II. Incremental Steps

When it comes to losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, making small changes in your lifestyle will make BIG changes overtime. When it is easier to achieve, it's easier to stick to.

Now if we attempt a new diet that severely restricts calories quickly, you’re going to have difficulty sticking with the diet. This is why most people quit: their diets eliminate food groups and drastically reduce calories.

When engaging in new lifestyle changes, start slowly. Don't overwhelm yourself with different dieting strategies or philosophies just yet. Focus on making better decisions and understanding portion control. Then and only then, you can slowly change your diet and implement new dieting strategies like Intermittent Fasting or Ketogenic dieting.

    When it comes to adherence, the goal is a commitment to a lifestyle change. Losing 20lbs is a lifestyle change: you can't just do a diet, eat like you used to, and stop exercising afterward!

    II. Calories and Macronutrients

    Level two of the Nutritional Priorities Pyramid is made up of Calories and Macronutrients. Calories are defined as units of energy that are acquired from the foods that we eat. Macronutrients are nutrients that contain calories: Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein.
    Before we discuss each macronutrient, consider the following:
    • Calories determine weight gain or loss: If you eat more than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you eat less than you burn, you'll lose weight.
    • Macronutrientshelp with satiety, fullness, and overall health. We divide up our calories into macronutrients.

    While our main goal might be overall weight loss, understanding macronutrients will introduce you to providing a variety of healthy options to your diet. Now let's discuss each macronutrient.

    Protein

    Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps repair and develop new cells in our bodies. These cells consist of our skin, muscles, nails, and our physique - pretty much everything that goes on in our body.

    Protein also helps repair broken down muscles as a result of intense exercise and helps fight fatigue. This is especially important when it comes to dieting for fat loss, in which your calories are restricted.

    The recommended daily amount for protein for someone who regularly exercises is around 0.8-1.2 grams per pound of body weight. 

    You can read more about protein in the article below:

    Fats

    Fats help regulate our hormones, health, and overall skin. Fats will provide you new cells and aid in nutrient absorption, making it an essential macronutrient.

    There are four types of fats: saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated and trans fats are typically deemed as "bad" fats, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the "good" fats.

    Here are a few recommendations when it comes to fats:

    • 20-30% of your total calories come from fats to optimize your fat intake. 
    • Saturated Fats: Eat in moderation.
    • Trans Fats: Try to avoid at all times.
    • Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats: Should be more of a focus in your diet as they have a high correlation to overall health.
    • Consider that there is a higher correlation to health problems in individuals who consume more saturated and trans fats than monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

    For more information on Omega-3's, click on the Fish Oil article below!

    Carbohydrates

    Carbs are our body's main source of energy. Our body typically turns all of the food we consume into glucose, making it a "nonessential" macronutrient. This is why Ketogenic diets can potentially work, as our body turns all of our foods into energy.

    Carbohydrates are typically the last source of focus, so people typically put the remainder of their calories into carbohydrates after handling proteins and fats.

    A Simple Macronutrient List

     If you're looking to understand more about what foods are Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates, be sure to click and download the Reforged Macronutrient List so you have a better understanding on these major food groups.

    For more information on Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates, you can click on the article below:

    III. Micronutrients and Fiber

    You've heard the saying: "an apple a day..."

    As we continue to stage three, this is where we build a systematic approach towards accomplishing our vitamin, mineral, and fiber intake.

    Micronutrients

    Micronutrients are Vitamins and Minerals that are found within our nutrient-dense macronutrients. Nutrient-Dense foods are typically lower-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables, starches, and grains.

    Here are just a few examples of micronutrients:

    • Vitamin A:Helps with skin health, vision, and immune health.
    • Vitamin C:An antioxidant that aids in blood flow and immune health.
    • Vitamin D: Aids in immune health, bone health, mood, and more.
    • Calcium: Assists in both health and cardiovascular health.
    • Magnesium: Improves bone mineral density, reduces blood pressure, and more!

    There are plenty of vitamins and minerals that aid our body with various things, making regular consumption of nutrient-dense foods essential.

    Fiber

    Fiber aids in providing us with the feeling of fullness, while regularly aiding in bowel movements. 

    The main types of fiber are as follows:

    • Soluble Fiber: Dissolves into water-like substance to aid in lowering blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Foods like oats, peas, beans, and apples contain soluble fiber.
    • Insoluble Fiber:Aids in moving foods through the digestive system, allowing us to use the bathroom more effectively. Foods like beans, vegetables, green beans, and potatoes contain insoluble fibers.
    With that, we recommend having about 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily to accomplish our goal with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

    IV. Nutrient Timing and Meals

    On to stage four, where nutrient timing and number of meals play is the next level of importance.

    Nutrient Timing

    When it comes to protein, protein timing is important because there's only so much protein your body can absorb FOR muscle protein synthesisThis is why it is essential to disperse your protein throughout the day. You don't need to divide it up evenly, just make sure that you have your bases covered. You can achieve this in 4-6 meals with protein sources.

    Nutrient timing is also important when it comes to pre and post-workout nutrition. Having our higher carb meals before and after our workout help optimize energy levels. This will allow us to perform our best during intense exercise. In addition, several studies have shown protein & carbs post-workout improves muscle protein synthesis significantly more than just protein alone.

    Meals

    For the number of meals, we should have daily, we should take the following factors into account:

    • Protein Timing:Protein timing matters in regards to protein synthesis and amino acid utilization.
    • Pre-Workout & Post-Workout Nutrition: Most of our carbs and protein intake should be optimized here for muscle protein synthesis as well.
    • Adherence: Do you prefer six small meals or four moderately bigger ones? From an anecdotal standpoint, cooking myself 6 meals a day used to stress me out. 

    Typically 4-6 meals daily would be a great spot to getting proper nutrients in and taking protein timing to account.

    V. Supplementation

    The last level of the Nutritional Priorities Pyramid is supplements.

    This is coming from a Fitness and Supplement brand: supplements can’t cure bad habits or a poor diet.

    We believe that supplements augment your lifestyle: if you have strong habits, exercise, and eat proper nutrition consistently, supplements will improve that.

    You need to optimize every other step of the Nutritional Priorities Pyramid before you dive into supplements!

    Now, we wanted to introduce you to how we divide our supplement categories.

    Foundational Supplements

    Foundational supplements are focused on covering any gaps as a result of a specific diet, training, or lifestyle.

    Foundational Supplements are as follows:

    • Multivitamins or Vitamin Supplements: Multivitamins consist of various micronutrients that some may need more of as a result of their lifestyle.
      • Some specific diets might be missing things like magnesium or vitamin D, which is why we supplement to fill those gaps.
    • Omega-3's:We can't always eat salmon and almonds! Omega-3's like fish oil help us get adequate omega-3's in our diet.
    • Greens/Reds Superfoods: Green and red superfoods fill in the gaps if you don't eat diverse fruits and vegetables in your diet. 

    Performance Supplements

    Performance supplements are focused on improving performance on various tasks, whether it is physical or mental exercise. These supplements may not provide direct nutrients, but they may help you perform specific tasks you desire.

    Performance Supplements are as follows:

    • Pre-workouts:Typically contains products like L-Citrulline and Beta-Alanine, pre-workouts help improve energy, manage fatigue, and provide focus in your workouts.
    • Caffeine:Sometimes we need an extra kick. Coffee and Energy Drinks provide us with the energy and focus needed during an intense day at work.
    • Nootropics:We may need to improve our focus, or to study better. Nootropics are brain & mood boosters that help you handle these tasks.

    Lifestyle Supplements (Miscellaneous)

    Lifestyle supplements consist of things that we may use to cover any other deficiencies or improve our lifestyles. While some supplements in other categories can be in this category (like caffeine and nootropics), these supplements were not covered above.

    Some examples of Lifestyle Supplements are as follows:

    • Sleep Supplements
    • Adaptogens
    • Hair, Skin, and Nails Supplements
    • Other supplements that may fill in any deficiencies in your lifestyle.

    Prioritize Your Nutrition, Change Your Lifestyle

    Many diets discuss pyramid stages 2-5, but there's more to it than the diet: we need to start with the basics - portion control, habit-building, and introducing exercise.

    Think about this similarly to the Hierarchy of Needs: these must be reinforced constantly to optimize our lifestyle - to perform our best to reach our greatest potential.

    If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below, or email us at support@reforgedperformance.com. We are here for you if you need it!

    Thanks for reading, Reforged Legion!

    Tony Gjokaj
    Tony Gjokaj

    Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He has been in the fitness space for over a decade, previously coaching individuals in body recomposition and strength training. His goal is to connect others with the knowledge they need to reach their greatest potential.



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