Ask a Nutrition & Training Coach Anything!


OK. Now I’m going to do the whole thing experiment again as a back injury has reduced my exercise options. It’ll be interesting to see what the difference is when I take activity out of the mix.


Trying to play around with some infographs again


Feasted or fasted exercise? Is anyway the best way?
My breakfast is usually a bowl of oatmeal with skimmed powdered milk and cup of coffee. I am not talking about exercising on a massively full stomach but some people are saying this is not as effective as my body needs the energy to digest and therefore less energy for exercise.


It takes about 4-6 hours for a good meal to digest, so doesn’t make a measurable difference to be honest, you’ll likley still have plenty fuel from the day before for an early morning workout (hunger & tiredness are an issue for some, but people confuse this with energy via food)

Although a big meal can produce a lot of Serotonin, which is a hormone that makes you sleepy so you can conserve energy to digest food (which people mistake for a ‘sugar crash’)

so it’s really down to personal preference :slight_smile:


Here’s some simple grocery/food shopping list ideas :slight_smile:


@maxnas quick question on how much protein is enough? I’m 234lbs and just starting with a lifting program ( 4-5 compound exercises 3 times a week, 6-8 reps and aim to get steadily heavier)

A typical days nutrition looks like this:

The nutrition breakdown (this is Fitbit, so probably not massively accurate) is:

The detailed breakdown was:

Question is, is this about there or thereabouts? Should I be looking at more or less protein?

Thank you for any input!


Hey mate!

So protein should be set according to body-composition needs (to support retention or growth of lean/muscle tissue)

For someone actively strength training, 0.8g per 1lb of LEAN body-weight is where you get the best return on investment, anything lower could produce lesser results… you could even go higher, but it doesn’t seem to make a physological difference by going higher, but it does seem to help with hunger & appetite for some people

For leaner people, it’s usually easier to just set it to total bodyweight, as it’s then covering the essentials plus that extra bit for hunger as lean people usually have to go lower than most in calories… 1g per 1lb of total bodyweight is pretty common

Now, for someone carrying quite a bit of excess weight, it’s harder to determine lean body-mass, so it becomes guesswork at best

For example, if you took your current total weight 234 x 0.8, that’s 188g, which is alot & a vast amount of that isn’t producing any results past a certain point… doesn’t mean you can’t eat that much if you want to, you defo can, but are you missing out on other foods you enjoy with using those calories up on extra protein?

Here’s what I typically recommend to do as a really easy ‘guess-timation’ of your minimum protein needs

Quite a bit of excess weight:

Total bodyweight in lbs x 50% in grams of protein

example: 234 x 50% = 117 (let’s call it 110-120g protein)

Leaner person

Total bodyweight in lbs x 75% in grams of protein

example: 170 x 75% = 127.5 (lets call it 120-130g protein)

Sorry for the long winded answer, I always think it’s best to explain fully so you ‘get it’ rather than me just spitting numbers & info at you

Hope this makes sense/helps mate? :slight_smile:


Sorry should have added my current body fat percentage is 33%, so yes a fair bit of excess timber around the middle. Objective is to get to 15%.

I do understand the maths of what you are saying, I think its a bit psychological as well, I do struggle with hunger/appetite control and feel that eating more protein helps keep the sugary snacking at bay.

so probably based on this I should cut back the protein shakes to just 1 a day every day, or just for the days when I lift? I normally have a shake as I work out and consume it during.


I’d say to shoot for 110-120 as your minimum, but if you want/need more, go for it… it’s perfectly fine.

Although, shakes are gonna be a poor choice if hunger is an issue mate, liquid calories won’t fill you up anywhere near as much as solid food

Whey is a great food/product to meet your needs if you’re struggling to hit protein needs through food alone (expensive & filling), but it’s just a tool of convenience

But more solid food should help with the hunger issue anyway, thus lowering the need for more protein via shakes

Have a google what else you can do with whey if you don’t want to eat 500 chicken breasts a day lol

eg; mix with oats, with greek yogurt, pancakes etc :slight_smile:


This doesn’t actually do anything to be honest mate, it’s a marketing gimmick to sell more product/supplements

As long as you’re hitting your total daily needs you should be fine, although breaking your protein up over the day is slightly better when building new muscle tissue (a protein feeding of 20g or so every 3-4 hours is the sweet spot), but for losing weight specifically it’s just the total daily amount that matters :slight_smile:


Thanks! I did read bigger , leaner, stronger by Mike Mathews and he also made the same statements that youre making around timing. Good to remember!

Thanks for the advice, will revisit the nutrition plan!


@maxnas is plateauing out a myth and just a case of getting lazy in a routine/rut

I’ve come down from 125kg to 87kg and although i’ve gave myself a target my bmi target weight is 80kg and in a way i’m happy with my current weight but it seems a bit of a shame i dont seem to progress beyond 86/87kg I’ve been yoyo-ing for a round 6 weeks now. I’m doing cardio 5 times a week and I’m wondering is it worth tinkering with that but I feel its worked for me and i’m worried I may go backwards messing with my routine.

I’ve been confidently running 10k’s and i’m contemplating aiming for a half marathon later in the year as a target so i’d have to up my distance i’m running each week anyway so that may help

but is they any truth in plateauing out and instead of worrying at losing weight should I concentrate my targets elsewhere ?


Hey mate,

Yes & No.

As far as ‘is there a limit where fat loss & weightloss stops’?

Nope, this is simply called starvation & as we know is very real (hence 3rd world countries, prisoners of war etc)

If you continue to undereat what your body needs to remain in it’s current state, you’ll simply keep losing weight until you starve to death.

Blows my mind how people seem to think that they’re “not eating enough to lose weight”, they’re simply not in a calorie deficit (for many possible reasons)

As far as plateauing, yes this absolutely happens.

Here’s some typical reasons:

Your new nutrition needs are much less than before (there’s less of you to maintain)

Your metabolic rate has slowed down (you don’t need as much food, as there’s less of you than before) this is perfectly normal. It may even have slowed down a bit too much due to extended dieting (hormonal adaptations) in this case, you’ll need to take a diet break & come out of the deficit, into maintenance or a slight surplus for a week or 2, to undo the hormonal adaptations

Water retention from changes in food (carbs carry 3-4g of water per 1g of carb) which masks scale loss

Water retention due to stress which masks scale loss

You’re eating more calories than you think (pretty much everyone does) and need to tighten things up

Lifestyle changes (are you moving less?) the leaner we get, the less food we need & the less energy we have which means we move less… 1 hour in the gym isn’t a big deal compared to the moving you do over the over 23 hours of the day

Are you doing too much exercise/cardio? If you’re overdoing it, you’ll be more tired & move less during the day & burn less calories over the course of the day compared to before.

Are you eating the food you like? A restrictive diet typically leads to binges that we like to ‘forget’

How long has the plateau been going on for?

What’s changed recently, if anything?

What’s your daily lifestyle looking like?

What’s your exercise routine looking like?

What’s your diet/nutrition looking like?

What are you not being honest with yourself about? (there’s always something)

PS – Cardio is pretty crap for fat loss:

Too much makes you tired & move less during the day,

Moving during the day burns much more calories than the 1 hour in the gym

For fat loss: diet > move more in life > lift weights > cardio


In between my last visit and now I was told that 1 pound of body fat isn’t 3500 calories, some say figure is a range, but this person claimed that 1 pound of body fat is nearer 4300. Internet searches have inevitably been unclear. Maybe this is one for @TomIrvNutr23 also. I’m happy for this to be called BS as I was dubious.


Hi mate

So there’s 454 grams in 1 pound,

& there’s 9 calories per 1 gram of fat,

so 454 x 9 = 4086 calories in a TRUE pound of FAT.

But BODY-FAT in humans is composed of 80-95% lipid (stored triglycerides, a glycerol molecule bound to three free fatty acid chains) the rest of the body-fat cell is made of water & a few other bits that the fat cells need to function.

So only about 360-430 grams (80-95% of the 454g) are actual stored triglycerides in human body-fat cells

Since one gram of fat has 9 calories, 360-430 grams x 9 calories = about 3300 - 3900 calories

So while it can be a bit of a range, we’re looking at about 3600-ish calories in 1lb of BODY-FAT on average

This is where the general 3500 calories per 1lb of body-fat rule comes from

Hope this explains mate?

(I’ve re-written this a dozen times trying to explain better lol)



Eloquently explained once again by @maxnas. This explains the calories in 1lbs fat, but the premise that is based on is fundamentally flawed @PickleRick.

Simply put, if you are aiming to lose weight over time, and you rightly put yourself in a daily 500kcal deficit (3500kcal deficit per week) the outcome would likely be 1lbs weight loss a week…whether that is fat, muscle, water will depend on various factors.

Naturally, if you were to maintain this over the course of a year then you could expect to lose 52lbs. However, just a reasonably then, if this theory is accurate over time, you should then expect to eventually wither away to nothing, no? Of course not, a 500kcal deficit will only facilitate 1lbs weight loss for so long otherwise we would continue to lose weight over time, and we don’t.

In time you will find a slowing down of metabolism to compensate for less calorie intake (it’s like only paying in £400 into account and wanting to spend £800, the bank will eventually say enough is enough). So no matter the deficit, eventually the number of calories our body will expend will start to fall.

To keep losing weight at the rate you started 1-2lbs a week, you’re going to have to reduce calories even further. You may well have to drop the calories by another 100 or so a month in and so on. This is why starting too low calories is futile to long term weight loss.

You also have neurological and hormonal changes that occur when you lose weight because the body really doesn’t like losing weight, it reverts back to the neolithic fears of starvation etc.

So assuming the convo around 3500kcal is to do with invoking a 500kcal weekly deficit to induce fat loss…I would say it works for a short time, a month or 2, but by then you might want to change your approach.


Hey @TomIrvNutr23 , I think you’re merging changes in metabiolic rate (adaptation) with the amount of calories in fat mate & classing them as ‘one thing’

The metabolic rate can slow for sure, but not a great deal (Minnesota Starvation Experiment saw an average of around 15% drop in metabolic rate under sever extreme conditions & in extremely lean individuals, it also bounced back to normal levels when hormonal levels we’re restored once a healthy amount of body-fat was regained. )

It’s really not something I tell my overweight clients to be concerned about as someone serverly overweight as a LOT of leeway & a long way to go before approaching low levels of calories (I know everyone says they eat almost no calories, but we know how mis-reporting works lol), I just make sure they’re having a diet break for hormonal & mental reasons every 6-12 weeks

I do alot of 2 weeks on 2 weeks off also, Brad Shoenfled published some great research on this recently, showing it elicits pretty much the same results as 4 straight weeks on, probably due to adherence

Anyway, the amount of calories in fat doesn’t change regardless of how long someones been dieting, they’re fixed (about 9 calories per 1 gram)

So while somebody might THINK they’re in a 500 (or whatever) calorie deficit, they may not be as their personal needs may have changed (metabolic adaptation) for a number of reasons,

Eg: less weight, less movement, hormone down-regulation etc etc

So yep, while most people will likely need to drop calories at some point on their journey due to…

1 - less mass = less calories needed

2 - possible slight metabolic rate slow down

I think you’re suggesting that calories in fat change due to metabolic adaptation, but that’s not the case, it’s just the metabolic rate that might possibly change…

While the 3500 is a general rule, it holds up pretty well as there’s only a little room for movement on either side (300 ish max)

For example, even for contest shredded people when coming OUT of a diet & finding maintenance, looking at the recent weight-loss & adding back in a pro rata of calories based on 3500 per 1lb seems to work very well for getting back to maintenance (new maintenance that is, although there’s obviously room here for positive medabolic adaptation)

To be honest, people overthing this stuff WAAAAAYY too much, it’s just basic numbers to estimate a starting point, from that point onwards everything comes down to looking over results, making adjustments based on results & how they feel etc… I find people who spend all their time looking for the perfect mathematically based diet, never actually ‘do’ anything, as they miss the forest for the trees

I suggest people (who want to go down the calorie counting route) just pick a calorie number based on a rough estimate (or track food/weight for 2 weeks), try it out for 2 weeks, look at the results, making little changes if need be… basically forgetting the numbers after the initial guess-timation for a startiong point lol :slight_smile:

So we really need to keep these 2 things separate, rather than merge them together (as they are completely separate things)

1 – The calorie math of fat loss is just that & can’t be changed… there’s approx 3500 calories in 1lb of human body-fat cells (to keep the wording as simple as possible for the sake of explaining to anyone else reading this), or more so a range of around 3300 - 3900, with 3500 being the genral quick go to for an average

2 – The calorie math aside & putting a lid on it, we then have to be aware that as we lose weight & diet for prolonged periods our overall energy/calorie needs become less (but this is not related to the amount of calories in fat) which is really what you’re alluding to

PS - But also, yep completely agree, dropping calories doesn’t mean you’ll just drop fat… just becasue there’s around 3500 calories in 1lb of bodyfat, doesn’t mean that dropping 3500 will bun 1lb of bodyfat… lean mass (muscle, bones, organs etc) all also have calorie values & creating a deficit will also lead to their loss of mass, but luckly we CAN control this to a certain extent via nutrition & training, to help retain lean mass & lose primarily fat (but never at a perfect 100% rate)

Calories dictate weight-loss,

Nutrition & Training dictate the type of weight being lost

PPS - I’ve primarily written this for other people reading lol



Somebody THINK’S their maintenance calories are 2500 & expects 2000 to produce around 1lb or so of weight loss per week (hopefully mostly fat if nutrition & training is good)

But, 1, they’re lean & 2, they’ve been dieting for a prolonged period, thus they’ve had some metabolic adaptation (some due to less mass, some due to hormonal down-regulation) let’s say their metabolic rate now only requires 1800 (a 10% reduction), what they thought was a 500 calorie deficit is now only a 300 deficit,

now as we know the weight loss won’t be 100% fat, especially for somebody lean who’d need such low calories & more likely to experience such a large metabolic adaptation (based on less mass & plus the hormone down-regulation) so maybe HALF of that weight loss is actual fatloss… that’s a deficit of 150 calories from body-fat alone (150 calorie deficit of lean mass)

For the week that’s 1050 calorie deficit directly on fat loss (not the 3500 deficit they thought they we’re in, which wouldn’t be 100% fat loss anyway)

300 calorie deficit = 2100 for the week in weight loss (that’s about 2/3rds of 1lb in weight loss)

150 calorie deficit from body-fat alone = 1050 for the week in FAT loss (that’s only about 1/3rd of 1lb in fat loss)

Hence, they’d simply need less calories OR accept a slower rate of loss at this stage

I think what confuses people is this

There’s approx 3500 in 1lb of fat,

But dropping 3500 calories doesn’t mean you’ll lose 1lb of fat, it could be a mix of fat & lean mass,

so we do what we can to retain lean mass so most of the loss is from fat

We’re basically shooting for weight-loss & manipulating nutrition/training to hopefully make sure most of the weightloss comes from fat


let’s there’s a box that weighs 500kg,

250kg blue bricks, 250kg yellow bricks

Tipping 250kg worth of weight out of the box doesn’t mean you’ll lose 250kg of blue bricks, it’ll be a mix of both

Now, if you could put a lid over the yellow bricks while tipping out 250kg, it’ll be mostly blue bricks & you’ll keep mostly yellow bricks

(this is the nutrition & training part, the covering of the lean mass to promote mostly fat loss during the weight loss)

PS - ahain this wall of text is just for the other people reading this who want to know more about this stuff at a deeper level lol


My only experience of anyone discussing the 3500kcal and 1lbs body fat was around the 1-2lbs weight loss a week, which is fundamentally flawed for the most part and consequently not something for people to concern themselves with.

As you point out, this ‘deficit’ is based on a best guess any way, the Harris-Bendict equation was quashed for using Italian men who we know to have inherently higher RMR’s than the rest of Europe, consequently we were over-estimating peoples calorie requirements.
The Henry equation that we use in the NHS is more valid, but again, a best guess based on typical values.

So any ‘deficit’ that we place the client in is based on the assumption that the ‘calorie requirements’ are anywhere near close to the actual requirements, which often they aren’t. So the only true metric for assessing calorie and macro/micro adequacy is rate of weight loss/gain, Waist circ, MUAC, MUTC, energy, mood and cognitive function.

Keeping it simple is key, which is why Atwater figures (9kcal per gram fat, 7 for alcohol, 4 for carbs and prot) are ‘nice to know’ but often bring more confusion than enlightenment.


Yeah, honestly I prefer to use either a basic formula to get an estimated starting point to test (which usually creates some form of a deficit anyway) then test for a few weeks,

Or to track food intake & weight for two weeks to see how much someone is using…

either way, it’s all guesswork, patience & testing, which NOBODY wants to do, everyone want’s the perfect numbers (which don’t exist lol)