Ask a Nutrition & Training Coach Anything!

noticed that I’ve been tagged in quite a few posts recently (and have had quite a few inbox messages) and have been able to help with a few questions, being an insider in the fitness world (my experience is in being a PT, weight loss coach, nutritionist, former pro athlete, I’ve also ran gyms in different places over the world etc)

Feel free to ask anything that I might be able to help with from a fitness insider perspective

PS - in case anyones curious why a PT would be in the forum, I fell off the wagon a while ago myself after some personal issues & while I know everything as far as what to do (science & math of training & nutrition) I needed some support mentally as it was my psychology that was out of wack.

Anyway, if there’s anything I might be able to help out with or answer from the nutrition & training world, I’m happy to help.

I’ll be working from home (client updates) tomorrow evening, so will check back in then :blush:

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@Maxnas , really open and honest of you to admit that you are susceptible to falling as much as anyone else.

Like you, I mostly know what I SHOULD be doing.

No questions at themoment, but I might take you up on your offer.

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I asked you everything I needed to !

Waiting for my meeting with my new PT, hopefully the physical kick up the Arse and support that I need !

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Hi @maxnas, its good for us to see that a PT can ‘fall off the wagon’ it proves we are all human!!!

I am desperate to lose weight, my approach is to eat sensibly and exercise, I cant count calories, its not for me. the idea of eating chicken with some rice for example is easy enough to calorie count, but how do people find the time or/and patience to count the calories of a home made chicken curry or stew for example, weighing out all of the ingredients etc.

Anyway, my question is as follows:

I love to cycle and usually cycle around 40 miles a week, sometimes more. I want to add circuit training in to mix things up, but after one session my body aches for days, i cant exercise for days and almost fall off the wagon. I then start again and ache again.

Am I doing something wrong? or is it my body not being used to it?

Can I lose weight by eating senseibly and exercising 3-4 times a week?

I have fallen off the wagon several times over the years, usually with the same approach (sensible eating, exercise) it does’nt seem to work.

I think i have been caught up in eating back caloiries or eating protein bars and shakes believeing my HRM when it says I have burned 1000 calories in the gym. i would loook at this as ’ i caneat what I want now, I have 1000 caloires spare’). Now i believe I probably only burn 300 calories in a session (seems more realistic) and see this as a deficit in my daily calories.

Im hoping that this time im succesful, i have genuine hope of succeeding this time

Hi mate,

in really really short, you can’t lose weight if you’re not in a caloric deficit, that’s just the universal law of the land that can’t be avoided (I really do wish this wasn’t the case).

so the key is finding a way that you can be in a caloric deficit & adhear to it for the long term (finding a system that you can stick to & that you enjoy)

but without tracking it (and I know people some people HATE to do this) it’s all just guess work.

for me, taking a minute or two, to place my plate on a digital scale as I’m prepping food & pressing the scan button on my phone (fitnesspal app) vastly outweights potentially taking weeks, months, years or even decades of guesswork.

I’m not saying that you HAVE to track your intake, I’m just saying that without tracking, you’re just guessing & hoping for the best.

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PS as for the exercise, it seems that you’re going all in, balls to the wall when your body isn’t yet ready for it, thus leading to a shitload of aching the next day, which in turn leads to needed rest… then it’s like starting over again each time brand new, and your body is never ready for the type of activity that you’re throwing at it.

I’d defo scale it back, and start slow & steady, then you build up each week and allow your body to adapt to the changes.

PPS yes, 100% spot on… people vastly overestimate the caloric burning effect of exercise.

It’s ALL about getting your nutrition in place, then thowing in some exercise to further support the weight loss :blush:

I make homemade soups, stir-frys, meatloaf etc. all the time. I measure everything the first time and figure out calories per serving try to keep the ingredients and serving size about the same each time after. I need to write this stuff down to keep track or I’d have to figure it all out again each time.


brilliant example!

As @maxnas said you need a consistent calorie deficit to lose weight. Eating “sensible” is all guesswork and just being 100 calories off per day means in 35 days one will gain a pound and 10 pounds per year. In reality there is even a bit of guesswork in calorie counting as well as not all chicken have the same makeup of fats and proteins for example, but it is much more precise than pure guesswork.

There are a multitude of apps that can help with the calorie counting.

BTW, if you think counting calories is tedious try managing your macro nutrients ;).

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I was making my tuna salad for lunch last night:

Can of Tuna, lettuce, tomato, table spoon of cottage cheese.boiled egg and some orange pepper.

I started weighing out the food and looking for each item in the MFP list and realised, life is to short for this…


well, life being too short may actually be the case (literally) for a lot of people who ‘don’t have the time’ lol

But on a serious note, that kind of snack/light meal can easily be guesstimated after becoming familiar with nutrition… I don’t even bother measuring that stuff, as I know pretty much whats what by this point

it comes down to this really:

  1. keep doing what you’ve been doing & keep getting more of the same results (which is why most people are here in the first place)

or 2. do something different, & get different results

so, I’m not saying that everybody has to count calories (myfitnesspal does that for us these days anyway, and if spending an extra minute or 2 a day on your health is too much, then I can guarantee you won’t have long term success) but I am saying that we HAVE to do something different to what we’ve been doing if we want a different outcome…

For the latter, there’s two ways of doing that. 1 tracking, or 2. guessing

We’ve got all the available tools that we need, so now it just comes down to choice.

track, guess or do nothing…

(since we have everything we need, really we can’t claim ignorance & victim-hood anymore)

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the unfortunate reality is, we’ve done damage to ourselves & need to undo it or face the consequences.

so just like someone getting into financial turmoil & massive dept, hoping for the best & trying to wing our way out of it, is probably not going to help… I think most people would agree that we’d need to sent up a track-able & scaleable plan to get out of debt… then, once we’re back to baseline we can choose how we want to go forward from that point

it’s not very different with weight, replacing financial dept for debt in bodyfat.

we can hope for the best & try to wing ourselves out of it, or we can put a system in place to get out of (bodyfat) debt… then, once we’re in a comfortable position, we can then choose what we want to do going forward for the remainder of our time



Once again, you make an excellent point. I consider myself to eat reasonably healthy, however I continue to be over weight so there are obvious imbalances somewhere!!! I know where my weakneses are - snacking, portion size and sitting on my arse all day. As for weighing the foods, it isnt a problem for me in some senses, with a salad I suppose im happy to estimate the volume of lettuce consumed, scan the barcode on the can of tuna and I will be there or there about.

My issues come to weighing the individual ingredients of larger/ more complex meals, particulary when Im not cooking (i hate cooking so the the other half does the vast majority). How much nutmeg, curry powder, olive oil, basil etc go into the meals that have calories (not necessaritly big calories).

It is the complex meals that throw me. For example I could cook a home made chicken curry with whole grain rice.

In one sense I could weigh the major ingredients - chicken, rice and maybe tinned tomatoes and a tea spoon/ tablespoon of olive oil and assume that the other bits dont add to much - spices, mushrooms, chillies etc.

or I measure everything…

The latter seems to be too time consuimng and if i had to do that everyday I would give up within days if not hours.


completely agree with you mate!

Here’s what I do… I leave about 100-ish cals per day to account for all the little things (spices, mushrooms, chillies, tomatoes, peppers, etc.), and track the 90%

or, I track everything once & write it down, so when I make that particular meal again I don’t have to track anything :blush:

A brilliant post.
It sums it all up for me.


Just logged my days food, all salad related with some left over salmon fillet for brekkie so should be reasonably accurate.

Just another quick question. For a little background I am 34, weigh 92kg and am 5ft 9. I work in an office so prety much sedentary. The MFP BMR calculator indicates I have a BMR of approx 1850.

Assume I set a goal of 1800 calories per day. At the end of the day hit 1800 (based upon MFP) but also went for a 20 mile cycle. Assume casual speed with an average heart rate of 140. I have no idea how many calories are burned (My HRM would suggest 600 - 800 calories) so play it safe and assume 300 calories burned.

This is where I get confused…

I have now a deficit of 300 calories for the day, do I eat the 300 calories burned taking my day consumption to 2100 or finish the day with a bigger deficit at 1500???

If I do have to eat the calories back, how do I know how many I burnt??



Hey Nick,

I’ll type up a fully detailed reply on this for you a bit later when I can dedicate some good time to it, as it’s a big area of confusion for people. I’ll tag you in it when I do :blush:

ok cool, so lets simplify this as you’re making it a bit consing for yourself (I see what you mean though)

so first of all, your BMR is your resting caloric needs (coma calories)

now, also accounting for your daily activities for the day, you get your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure)

this is how many calories your body needs to remain in it’s current state.

even then, it’s all guess work & testing, but calculated guess work.

Here’s what I’d do in your position:

Forget the calories your burning through exercise (I’ll explain why in a second) and just call that ‘life’, as it’s part of your current TDEE.

Now, lets use a pretty good rule of thumb and take your bodyweight in lbs & times it by 14

92kg = about 203lbs

203lbs x 14 = 2842

Let’s round it to an even 2800.

So we’ll guess-timate that 2800 cals per day is approx your TDEE (maintenance calories)

Next, lets take off the usual 500 calories per day to shoot for that 1lb per week (it’s not always that accurate, but it’s a good guidepost figure)

so, we’re left with 2300 calories per day, which should result in approx 1lb of fat loss per week.

Now, the fact that you’re exercising means that you should get a bit more than 1lb per week of fat loss. (if the TDEE is correct)

next is to test it out.

Use that calorie deficit number of 2300 for 2 weeks and also continue with your exercise activity, but make sure it’s consistent so you can see what’s working for you…

ie: 2300 calories per day for the next 2 weeks, and maybey 2 sessions of cardio for 60mins at a low/moderate pace twice per week (this is just an example, you can do whatever you want, just make sure it’s consistent)

now, at the end of the two weeks, if you’re seeing that downward trend, and losing 1-2lbs per week… GREAT, you don’t need to change anything.

If not, you can now choose to either drop your calories slightly (try dropping by 100-200) or increase your cardio activity (from twice per week, to mabey 3 times per week)

re-test and see what happens.

eventually you’ll find that sweet spot, then every time you stall (I’d always wait 2 weeks before changing anything, as water weight does fluctuate) you can adjust by reducing calories or increasing exercise activity.

So, this way you don’t have to worry about the calories being burned during the exercise, as you just class them as the activity… and adjust that activity depending on results.

Another example… I’ve stalled for the past 2 weeks on 2000cals, so this week I’ve decided to do a mix of both.

I’ve dropped by calories by 100, & I’ve added an extra 60 min, low intensity cardio session to my week.

I’ll track my weight each morning first thing, and at the end of the week workout out the average (because water weight can fluctuate on a daily basis), then I’ll do the same the following week and compare them to see what’s happening to my weight on the larger/trend scale

Hope this all makes sense mate???

Let me know :blush:



Thanks - thats great.

i know that this may sound stupid but bare with me.

I typically eat reasonably well. I dont smoke and barley drink alcohol.

At your guesstimate I eat 2800 calories per day to maintain my week - that sounds like a lot, isnt it? i wouldnt have thought I get to that number on a daily basis, it just seems like a lot. Prehaps its portion size or occasional snacking?

Is 1800 calories per day ok rather than 2200?

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hey dude,

that’s just a good estimate based on your stats.

Put it this way, I’m 5’6, already lean (about 10%bf) and am currently losing fat on 2000 calories per day (granted I have a decent amount of muscle tissue which is more active metabolically)

Lets say that 2800 is your maintenance (it might not be, this is why you have to test & trial), but lets say you drop a whopping 1000 cals per day down to 1800 cals per day…

initially you will lose fat, but you’ll then meet an eveil thing called ‘adaptive thermogenesis’ (which people confuse & call starvation mode)

simply put, if you’re consuming less calories, your metabolism doesnt need to work as hard, so it will adapt & slow down to match your current intake (this is a never ending battle for bodybuilders etc trying to get stage lean)

so lets say you’re on 1800 calories, you’re also doing a chit load of cardio per week… and now you stall. what do you do next?

You have to take even more calories away, and again and again each time you stall.

if you’re at the very start of your journey, you want as much calories in the bank as possible that you can play with and adjust as & when you need to.

If you start off on ‘end’ of diet type calories, you’re going to stall & have no place to go very quickly.

I’d only ever advise dropping calories when you absolutely need to, because as you continue to drop weight, and also taking into account adaptive thermogenesis, you’re ‘maintenance’ calories will reduce, meaning that your fat burning calories also will… but you may run out of options by then.

hope this makes sense?

PS - people often mistakenly call this ‘starvation mode’ and think they’re their body isn’t losing fat because they’re not eating enough… it’s actually the opposite, their metabolism has adapted downwards to their new weight & caloric consumption, & they’re simply no longer in a calorie deficit… meaning that they have to further reduce calories to burn fat…

now, if they’re on 1200 calories or so, this is a MASSIVE problem. They’ve hit a wall & have no where to move (the fat loss checkmate!)