FAQ 

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Meal plan

 

+ What if I do not want to track my macros?

That is ABSOLUTELY FINE.

However...

You need to have some awareness of your energy balance. This is why we have set up the plan with specific meal plates and number of meals. This is to provide a framework that prevents overeating AND under eating. You won't have to calculate macros and calories but you will have to change your meals to fit the specific meal plates and timings. 

The pH Nutrition pathway is designed to set you up with a baseline nutrition plan. In the first 2 months we really delve into getting a personalised plan in place. We don't advocate tracking LONG term. However, one of the biggest pitfalls we see with clients who are not making progress is not knowing how much they are eating. 

It is not imperative to track but having awareness and structure in your nutrition plan is crucial. 

  • Use the meal plans, the recipe packs and the recipe section to provide you with the correct meals for your goal
  • Follow the build your meals system.

+ Do my macro calculations look right?

The starting macro and calorie targets we suggest are a STARTING POINT. You won’t know if they are correct until you try them out. Initial calculations are an estimation, a start point from which to adjust based on how you progress.

    You need to make sure you are tracking your progress in detail so that you have data from which to base adjustments from. You then, of course, need to know how to make the adjustments. This is what the pathway is all about. Our monthly review videos, webinars, Facebook live videos, articles and content will help guide you through this. 

    The pathway has been structured in a way that you follow the baseline calorie targets for 1 month. Then we start to adjust based on your output. 

    + Do I have to follow the number of meals?

    Yes and no...hahaha

    Let us explain

    One of the biggest areas we see with clients is lack of structure. This leads to either mindless snacking as you haven't planned when the next meal is, or you haven't eaten enough so you are hungry. Another common scenario is that you eat a large meal and then go 5 - 6 hours without eating and overeat at the next meal due to being ravenous! Ever been on the way to evening training and felt the hunger pang 45 minutes before your session as you haven't eaten since lunch? Now the next meal you will eat will be around 8pm? THATS 8 HOURS WITHOUT EATING AND YOU HAVE EXERCISED. 

    We have set the structure for each goal (FAT LOSS, WELLNESS, STRENGTH) for a specific reason. This is based on our experience working with hundreds of CrossFIt members and athletes. It allows you to remove the decision stress of when and what to eat. It WILL improve your performance and recovery and it will allow you to build better habits. 

    So as a STARTING point yes...follow the structure. 

    But of course you can adapt to fit your lifestyle or training schedule. 

    The most improtant part of being a member is that we have regular opportunities to talk to us at pH Nutrition and get answers to your questions. We will work WITH you and provide all the tools and education you need to get YOUR plan in place.

    + Are there suggestions for meal timings?

    A baseline target is to eat each meal 3-5 hours apart.

    Spacing meals is essential to allow you body to digest and assimilate the food you are eating. A common issue we see is people overeating at specific meals and under fuelling their training. This is usually in an attempt to 'burn fat' during the sessions. We have had INCREDIBLE results with clients when we space meals at regular times. 

    Alongside reducing mindless snacking it helps with hormone regulation, digestion and energy levels. It just takes a bit of prep!

    A rule of thumb - No need to eat meals less than 3 hours apart - don't go longer than 5 hours.

    + How long shall I stay on each phase

    We suggest to follow the baseline target for the first month. This is to take the decision stress away from changing your calories and macros and work on building good habits. These have been set to give you a starting point to work towards your goal.

    We want to "build your baseline" in month 1. Following a consistent calorie target will allow you to build consistency. 

    After 1 month we can get more detailed. We can ASSESS progress and see where we need to make ADJUSTMENTS. Use the dropdown to correlate to your training. We then shouldn't need to stay on a "phase". More just aligning our intake with our output. We need to fuel for the work required. This is how we move away from a "diet" and build a sustainable way of eating.

    However this is a guideline! We will have monthly reviews, videos, articles and time with our nutrition coaches to help you progress your plan. 

    + What should my target weight be?

    We use target weight opposed to current weight as it gives a better starting calorie target for our specific goal. Your target weight should be whatever you want it to be! However we need to be realistic here!

    • If fat loss is the target then aim for whatever weight you feel you want to achieve in 6 months. 
    • If strength and muscle is the target then aim for 2-5kg heavier than you are now
    • If wellness is the aim then just enter the similar weight as you are now 

    The great thing is we can adjust the calculator based on progress. We cover this in more detail from month 2 onwards.

    + Do I have to change my macros every day for my training?

    No you do not have to change them everyday. 

    After following the baseline we can use the drop downs to change your intake depending on your training. It very much depends on your progress but we suggest following

    • Follow baseline for 1 month
    • Then follow the target that fits your training schedule for 3 weeks of the month, with 1 week at baseline. 

    Being flexible but "within certain parameters" is how we make a nutrition plan work long term. You have a baseline target to hit and then you can adjust based on your output. The reasoning behind this is that we need to be aware of the calorie load over the week / month not just each day. We want a balance.

    We will be providing specific advice for each goal on the relevant home pages alongside advice in each monthly pathway step.

    + Can I take a "diet break"

    Of course!! The point of this membership site is to set up your plan long term. There will be times when you can't stay on plan due to holidays, work etc. However a general rule of thumb is to take a weeks break at the following times.

    Diet Break Frequency

    FAT LOSS - After being on plan for 3 months - take a break every 6-8 weeks

    STRENGTH - After being on plan for 3 months - take a break every 4-6 weeks

    WELLNESS - Should be your lifestyle. No need for a break.

    Read the next question as well.....

    + When can I have a cheat meal / day

    Ah the cheat day....we have restricted ourselves and now we can binge on alllll the pizza. NOPE...sorry, we don't work like this.

    Long term success = as little "restriction" as possible. We don't encourage the famine and feast mentality. We also don't advocate a cheat day.

    A cheat meal yes

    A whole day

    NO.

    Having treat meals will allow for longer term success and sustainability. This also allows for you to structure social events / date nights into your plan. 

    Here are our guidelines


    FAT LOSS

    FIRST MONTH - Have 1 off plan meal per week. Even from the start 

    ON GOING - 2 off plan meals per week. 

     

    STRENGTH

    FIRST MONTH - Have 2 off plan meals per week. Even from the start 

    ON GOING - 2 off plan meals per week.

    WELLNESS

    FIRST MONTH - Have 2 off plan meals per week. Even from the start 

    ON GOING - 2 off plan meals per week. 

    + I'm vegan / vegetarian - do I need to change my macros

    Hmmmm this is a tough one! Hitting protein levels for vegetarians and vegans can be challenging. Again this comes back to energy balance. Calorie intake is the first point of call but we do need to ensure that there is a balance of macronutrients. We suggest the following.

    Drop protein levels down to 20 - 25% of overall intake - but no less

    We have created a section going through everything for a vegan / vegetarian setup and CrossFit

    CHECK OUT THE VEGAN / VEGETARIAN SECTION HERE

    + If I am over on consistently over my protein target what do I do?

    Overeating protein is something we see in people that have come from a more bodybuilding style diet. It often comes from eating too larger portion of meat at meals. Then with sneaky additions from the other foods (broccoli has 3g per 100g!) it can mount up. 

    • Space protein intake over the day.
    • Reduce serving size of protein powders
    • Reduce size of chicken/beef/turkey. 
    • Change to fish / egg / veggie sources of protein in one meal per day. Harder to get high amounts of protein from these sources.

    + If I am over on consistently under my protein target what do I do?

    Under eating protein is something we see at breakfast or snacks more than main meals. Small additions can help get you towards that target. 

    • Add higher protein vegetarian foods to your main meals such as lentils, beans or eggs. Use the vegetarian section for more ideas.
    • Use greek yoghurt as a base to dips and sauces. Stir a little chilli sauce or pesto through some and dollop it on. 
    • Top foods with seeds and nuts - being wary of fat intake
    • Move away from thinking a snack has to be a snack food. Use boiled eggs, leftover meats, falafel, turkey meat rolls ups, smoothies or a small salad pot as a snack.
    • Add liquid egg whites to porridge
    • Add protein powder to overnight oats or smoothies.

    + If I am over on consistently over my carbohydrate target what do I do?

    A few simple strategies to help you lower your carb intake - 

    • Limit any liquid calories. So easy to bump your sugar intake from juices, smoothies and milky coffees.
    • Choose higher volume foods such as vegetables at main meals and lower the starchy carbs. Swap in red cabbage, cauliflower, aubergine, mushrooms for some of the rice, potatoes, grains or fruits.
    • Limit carb dense foods such as dates, honey, maple syrup, bananas.
    • Swap sweet potato for squash.
    • Swap rice for cauliflower rice.

    Look at which meal is tipping you over and make an effort to adjust this - opposed to changing all meals. 

    + If I am over on consistently under my carbohydrate target what do I do?

    Effectively do the opposite of above!

    • Choosing more carb dense foods will help without a huge increase in food volume. Using dates and bananas instead of berries or apples. 
    • Choose more carb dense foods at main meals - potatoes, beetroot, rice, quinoa are ones to focus on. 
    • Dollop some hummus or other sauce to main meals. We love a bit of beetroot hummus stirred through some rice or quinoa with a tonne of veggies.
    • Use a carb powder pre, intra or post workout.

    + If I am over on consistently over my fat target what do I do?

    Fat is one of the easiest macronutrients to overeat. Firstly are you tracking your oil intake as this is one of the most common areas missed...

    Uh oh..

    I'm even further over!

    Not to worry...just employ some of these tips.

    • Use a non stick pan and lower the amount of oil you cook in.
    • Use a oil spray instead of the actual oil - fry light do a range - even coconut and avocado oils.
    • Eat leaner cuts of meat and fish.
    • Remove the skin from chicken.
    • Limit nut intake - make sure you measure this. Very easy to overeat.
    • Measure peanut butter intake
    • Measure peanut butter intake
    • Measure peanut butter intake (yes this is possibly one of the main areas we see clients overeating in).
    • Choose lower fat hummus. 
    • Swap mayo for greek yoghurt.

    + If I am over on consistently under my fat target what do I do?

    Lick the spoon when measuring peanut butter!

    Only joking...well kinda...

    Sometimes it hard increasing the RIGHT type of fats. Here are some simple tips.

    • Choose meats that are higher in fats - red meat, chicken thighs, turkey thigh mince.
    • Eat salmon or other oily fish such as trout, mackerel and anchovies.
    • Add small amount of butter or olive oil to veggies.
    • Add an egg on top of meals (everyone loves an egg!)
    • Sprinkle of seeds or nuts on meals such as stir frys or currys.
    • Dollop of full fat greek yoghurt to meals.
    • Use coconut oil to cook your food in.
    • Adding chia seeds to your overnight oats.
    • Use coconut milk as the base of your smoothies.
    • Add a fish oil supplement to your daily nutrition plan.
    • Add extras such as avocado and nut butters to meals. (satay sauces or guacamole).
     
     
     

    All things nutrition

     

    + Can I build my own meals opposed to using the recipe site

    ABSOLUTELY YES! Following meal plans is not sustainable long term. You need to learn how to build your nutrition plan and what works for you. We have developed a food table that provides some guidance on what to eat and when. 

    READ MORE ABOUT THE FOOD TABLE HERE

    + Are there specific foods not to eat

    We don't advocate removing whole foods groups such as going no carb or no grains. However there are a few foods that we do want to limit.

    • Deep fried food - The mix of high carb and high fat from poor nutrient void sources is just no good
    • Highly processed foods - white breads, white flours, white sugars, most crisps, sausage rolls, pies and pasties.
    • Poor quality meat and fish - Factory farmed fish and meat is loaded with antibiotics, certain hormones and are fed a poor quality diet.
    • Too many "healthy protein snacks" - Just because it has 20g protein in it doesn't mean we can eat it all the time. Mars protein bar....still a chocolate bar. 

    The purpose of this membership site is to educate you on finding what works for you. Nothing is truly off limits. It is all about balance.

    + Should I change my nutrition if I train in the morning or the evening

    In short yes. We have provided sample meal plans for different times of training. The reason we want to manipulate our intake is to maximise the stimulus of the training session. 

    Typical bodybuilding diets may focus purely on calorie load over the day - and although energy balance is essential - improving your nutrient timing will help you get the most out of your sessions. 

    Follow the structure and meal suggestions for each day in your plan. Monitor how you feel and track your progress. Then ADJUST to PROGRESS your plan. 

    TRAINING TIMES SECTION

    + Should I eat less on a rest day

    Dropping calories (and in particular carbs) on rest days is a common strategy people use. A few areas to consider with this before we give a definitive answer.

    First thing is to identify your goal. 

    If you are trying to drop body fat then yes absolutely this can be a useful strategy to use. Increasing muscle or performance...maybe not. Why? This is due to energy balance...this basic principle. Less output on a rest day and your goal is fat loss - then staying in a calorie deficit will help. For strength and muscle gain you need to fuelling the tank and dropping calories is not going to help you stack on more muscle or increase strength.

    Then we have training volume. Are you training 3 times a week or 9 times a week? If 3 times a week then yep fire away and give it a go. Drop some carbohydrates, keep protein levels consistent and monitor how you feel. If you are training more than 5 days a week adjusting the macronutrient levels on rest days but keeping calories similar MAY work. 

    In all honestly at the start it is more about consistency and keeping things simple so we suggest trying to hit your daily calorie target, and once this has become a habit we can start to manipulate your intake. 

    Use the decision matrix to help guide you

    + When trying to lose fat can you under eat?

    Yes you can definitely under eat.

    We often see clients making progress by being in a slight deficit and energy levels improving and hunger signals being balanced. They then think that a larger deficit will result in more weight loss. Not the case.

    Being in a large deficit (over 500kcal)  for the odd day is fine. It is when we under eat for an extended period of time that it can affect energy levels, hormone balance (particularly testosterone and ghrelin) and result in our body 'holding" onto calories as it is being underfed. 

    Too much water kills the flower. A slight deficit is good. Too much and we run the risk of halting progress. Trust the process.

    + Should I be taking supplements

    Food first....always. Supplements should be used to either treat a deficiency and enhance performance / recovery once the basics have been nailed down.

    You don't need them, however we do use supplements and if used in the correct way at the correct time they can definitely help. A few areas to consider

    • Please read the below articles before buying any supplements
    • Buy quality - there is a reason that fish oil is £3. Steer clear
    • Consider getting some testing done prior to buying a tonne of supplements just because someone else is using it.

    We use supplements with our athletes and clients - but only after they have got the basics of their nutrition plan in place. In all our coaching programmes a personalised supplementation protocol is provided.

    TAKE A LOOK AT OUR RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT SECTION

    We will be delving into the relevant times to use certain supplements / nutrients throughout the monthly habit series

    An excellent source of information regarding supplements and research is examine.com

    + I'm lactose intolerant - what can I do

    There are a tonne of lactose-free products available these days. Substitutes include nut milks (almond, coconut, cashew, hazelnut) and dairy free yoghurts such as Coyo, kallo, Koko, coconut collaborative. Alternatively you can use oat or coconut-based products. Foods such as coconut yoghurt and oat milk are great additions to your diet. Another tip is to be cautious if buying pre-made sauces and jars of food. You will find that milk is often used in these.

    + What affects energy balance

    Energy balance is the relationship between “energy in” (food calories taken into the body through food and drink) and “energy out” (calories being used in the body for our daily energy requirements). We know via the pyramid of importance that this is an essential area to making progress with your nutrition. 

    So what affects energy balance. Well pretty much everything! But here are a few key areas - 

    • Thermic effect of eating
    • Gut health
    • Exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC)
    • Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)
    • Sleep

    This is just to name a few. Although we focus on getting your calorie and energy balance correct via the amount of food you are eating, this is only one part of the puzzle. The monthly habit series covers sleep, recovery, gut health, immune function, neurotransmitters and hormones that all play a crucial role in energy balance.

    SUPERB ARTICLE FROM PRECISION NUTRITION

    + What can I do to reduce muscle soreness

    Your body will adapt to the intensity and volume and the muscle soreness will reduce we promise! However there are some simple things we can implement - 

    • Eat within 1 hour of finishing your session. You don't have to down a shake within 14 seconds of dropping the barbell but just make sure you help kick start the recovery process by getting some food in post workout.
    • Lower inflammatory foods such as biscuits, deep fried food, processed meats and high sugar snacks.
    • Eat smart fats such as oily fish, seeds, avocados, coconut products, nuts, quality cuts of meat and dairy products. These will help heal the damaged muscle cells and reduce soreness
    • Eat the rainbow. Veggies provide phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins and compounds to help reduce muscle soreness
    • Include foods such as turmeric, grapes, cherries, berries, cinnamon, green tea and dark coloured fruits as they provide antioxidants which can help with recovery.
    • Take cherry active in the evening. BUY HERE - ENTER CODE PH20 for 20% OFF
    • Have an epsom salt bath.

    We cover this is much more detail in month 3.

     
     
     

    Social, travel and eating out

     

    + What do I do if I am going out on a social occasion?

    We know that being perfect isn’t the goal, but trying to stay consistent when eating out can be a challenge, too. First things first....if it is a special occasion - dont be that person...enjoy your meal!! It is one night out of 365. It won't kill your progress.

    Restaurants don’t care about your body fat or macros , they just want you to enjoy amazing food. You can still enjoy meals out whilst maintaining progress, you just have to be aware of how to make better choices. 

    • Eat similar meals to what is on your plan. Try to replicate what you created at home as much as possible. Visual memory should help here with portion sizes, choices, etc… Use your hands to estimate!
    • Adjust the day of and the day after around this event. Similarly to the alcohol question we have answered, you can manipulate your intake so you can be a bit more relaxed when going out. Hit protein targets, lower fat intake, swap starchy carbs for veggies. Careful though, too drastic of a change is not good. Small reductions over the day and the day after will allow for balance. 

    + Whats the deal with alcohol

    One of the most common questions is "what can I do about my alcohol intake that will allow me to still make progress?"

    Alcohol intake is one of the primary areas we see that prevents progress. But we never suggest going zero alcohol as this restriction is not sustainable long term (for most of us). We have a few simple tips to help you make better choices when it comes to alcohol.

    Ask yourself is it essential to drink?

    If it is a work event that you HAVE to drink at, or a special occasion then just enjoy it (or suffer through it) and chalk it off as an unavoidable. If it is just an occasion that isn't of huge importance then stick to water. Removing these "non essential" times to consume alcohol is a great way to manage your intake.

    Additionally think about adapting your intake on the day. On days that you know you are going to drink a lot:

    1. Keep your fat intake low. Drop your intake on the day by 25%.
    2. Eat your protein target for the day to preserve muscle mass, focusing on lean protein sources.
    3. Restrict carbs to veggies.

    Then we out drinking focus on

    1. Low sugar mixers and clear spirits. Gin and slim, whiskey and diet coke, vodka lime and soda.
    2. Steering clear of sugary cocktails. 

    And one last thing...do not have the late night food - no it won't "soak up the alcohol" and prevent a hangover. A mix of high carb and high fat just before you go to bed can skyrocket your calorie load for the week (maybe month).  

    If you follow those few rules and keep these things infrequent, you won’t ruin your progress. 

    + How do keep my nutrition on plan when travelling

    If it is holiday....enjoy! Have a break from following a plan and relax!

    If it is work related it is all about preparation. 

    READ OUR NUTRITION FOR TRAVEL GUIDE

    + I commute to work after my session - is there any specific advice

    Just finished your morning session and now have to sit in the car or tube to work? We know that calorie balance and overall macronutrients are more important than nutrient timing but being prepared when it comes to your commute can help you kick start the recovery process.

    Use the table below to help guide you depending on your commute.

     
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    Trying to create a relaxed environment to eat is essential. Eating on the commute is not ideal but if you can relax in seat then that is fine. We understand that you are busy! If you are eating at the gym then take 10 - 15 minutes to relax / shower before eating your meal. One of our pet peeves is people chugging a shake or eating a bar 8 seconds after the last rep.