By Fitness Editor Paula Jager CSCS
Thank you for the comments, updates and questions–please keep them coming. I am getting some common thread questions in regards to exercise and macronutrient ratios. What kinds, types and volumes in regards to both. Not everyone is metabolically the same, has the same activity levels, demands, needs or the same goals.
Let’s take a look at 3 hypothetical clients that came to me for help and a suggested protocol for each of them to follow. . .
Ella: 48 yo female; 5’2”, 205 lbs., sedentary, type 2 diabetic, borderline hypertensive
Chase: 15 yo male; 5’10”, 155 lbs, high school football/track athlete
Shera: 34 yo female; 5’8”, 125 lbs, endurance athlete, highly stressed, gastric issues
What we have here are 3 very different individuals with far ranging problems and challenges. Is there a one-size fits all exercise and nutritional program for them? No. There are a few constants but many things that are right for one individual are harmful for the other. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Ella: she doesn’t feel too well; she home schools her 4 children along with carting them to and fro their activities. Her doctor keeps telling her she needs to lose weight and exercise but she doesn’t have the time or energy. She’s also experiencing hot flashes, night sweats and bouts of insomnia along with depression. She does no exercise now, there is “simply no time”. She eats a S.A.D.
- Exercise: Ella needs to move–period. Are we going to have her start running up stadium stairs right off the bat? No. We’re going to suggest she starts walking for 10 to 30 min 4 to 5x a week for the first month and then we’ll up the intensity. We’re going to put her on a bodyweight strength program 2x a week for about 10-15 min. Total time investment: 2-3 hours a week. We found this time by taking away 1.5 hours of television watching, 1 hour of net suring and .5 hour during children’s activities where she usually sits waiting for them.
- Nutrition: we have Ella eating reasonable portions of meat, fish, fowl and their fats, consuming healthy carbohydrates from primarily vegetables and some fruits, no starches and no sugars until her weight/metabolic conditions are at a healthy level.
Chase: he feels fine–he’s 15; his hormone levels are raging and he’s nearing the prime of his life. He is a stud, a rising athletic star, playing varsity wide receiver on his high school football team and a 100 m & 200 m track star. The girls are chasing him left and right and his biggest concern right now is that he just can’t gain weight and he wants some muscle. He is 8% body fat with a stunning six pack. His parents feed him a fairly balanced diet consisting of various animal proteins, some vegetables but too many boxes of Kraft mac n’ cheese, soft drinks and one too many trips a week to Micky D’s. He’s also started drinking 3 protein weight gain shakes a day loaded with simple sugars and stays up too late playing video games and online chatting with friends. What’s a parent to do?
- Exercise: not the problem here. Chase is very active; he lifts weights regularly in between track and football seasons as well as a modified program in season. He attends an excellent school with the best strength & conditioning coaches possible. Chase will most likely secure a college scholarship based on his current performance and academics. Chase is a fortunate young man
- Nutrition: we hit Chase with the facts–making progress on the field and in the weight room starts with proper nutrition. Do not power down junk food just to gain size. The “size” will be useless fat, slow you down on the field, decrease performance and overall health. We had a conference with Chase’s supportive parents and agreed to feed him meat, fish , seafood and their fats, roots, tubers, olives & olive oil, coconut and his “protein” shake was switched to nice big glasses of raw milk chock full of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. No caloric restriction and 4 to 6 meals per day. We clipped the late night activities and he now gets 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Shera: Shera is on the brink of a nervous breakdown. She’s a high-powered Corporate executive bringing home some serious bacon. She works 70+ hours a week, sleeps 4 hours a night, is a Type A driven individual and competes in 6 marathons a year logging 40+ miles a week. She also gets in 1-2 strength training sessions a week but can’t seem to gain any muscle. She a chronic stress fracture in her right foot that just won’t heal. Shera eats a primarily vegetarian diet, drinks 3 caramel macchiatos from Starbucks per day and takes ½ xanax at night to help her sleep. In addition to being constantly stressed out and short on patience she has been experiencing some serious gastric issues and the doctors are running tests but none have come back conclusive.
- Exercise: slow down Shera, less is more. We cut Shera’s endurance training back to 2-3x a week and encouraged her to refrain from another marathon until her health improves. We discontinued her “long” runs for the time being and have her doing 2 interval running workouts per week of a 20 min duration. We upped her strength training to 2-3, 30 min sessions using heavy weights in the 3-6 rep range, cutting back if necessary depending on recovery. We added in 1-2 gentle yoga sessions per week along with deep breathing exercises and meditation practice.
- Nutrition: give the girl a bone! Seriously; we spoke with Shera over the importance of obtaining adequate flesh proteins and she agreed to a trial period of a modified Gaps type diet including seafood to help with recovery and healing. She also agreed to let go of the caffeine and under her doctor’s supervision be weaned off the Xanax.
Yes, I embellished a bit, added in some humor and showed extreme examples but the moral of the story is that we are not all the same. Each individual must assess their goals, circumstances and limitations and find the best approach that works for them which is usually a combination of several. With this mind, we all should be well on our way to success!
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar in Tampa, FL
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.