Last week I told you about some of the things I learned about training during my internship at Wolf Gate Gym. Today I’m going to share with you some of the main things I learned about diet.
For many years I have been one of those people who definitely care about the quality and content of their food. I am usually the person who is walking around with boxes of home-made food. Even though people gave me strange looks at the beginning, everyone around me is used to it by now and no one comments on it. When I went to Wolf Gate Gym, I was surprised from the very morning to learn that everyone there was like me. Each one of the coaches and most importantly – the clients – had brought their home-made food. It didn’t matter if they were men or women. I would even say that the men put a lot of effort into preparing their food. On some of the days the first workout started at 5:30 am and both the coach and the client were well prepared with their post-workout breakfast. Many people underestimate the significance of diet when it comes to being in shape. They usually put a lot of effort into training and neglect diet, but diet is actually the building blocks that help us shape the body we want. Workouts are only the stimulus, but it doesn’t lead to the desired results without the necessary nutrients. Everyone there understood that. I’m going to try and describe in a couple of items some of the things that happened and the conclusions I drew.
1. iNutrition Pro and the metabolic analysis
iNutrition Pro is a software they use to determine the calorie count, macronutrients and ratios in different meals. It all starts with the so-called metabolic analysis, of course – this is body fat caliper measurements. 14 skinfolds are measured. The purpose is not only to measure the body fat percentage, but also to determine the condition of the metabolism. I was at a lot of this kind of measurements of clients and found it extremely interesting to see that the body is just like a map and if you can read the signs, you can know what is happening inside and how to change these processes. The idea is that the different spots where we tend to gain fat correspond to different organs or hormones. Each skinfold has a reference range. Any deviation from it shows some kind of problem in the body. I’m going to tell you about some folds and share some interesting facts with you. I have written before about the folds around the abdomen and the “love handles” which show what insulin and cortisol levels are like in the body. The subscapular skinfold, or in other words the one at the level of the shoulder blades (on the back), gives an idea as to whether you are predisposed to consuming more carbohydrates or more fat. The fatter the skinfold there, the more you need to reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your (healthy) fat intake.
The suprailiac skinfold (the one at the level of the “love handles”) shows if you eat more carbohydrates than you have earned (more on this later in the text). If the value is higher than the reference range, it means you overconsume carbohydrates.
I’m going to tell you about three more skinfolds. One is that on the posterior thigh. It shows the toxicity levels in the body. The thicker this fold is, the more toxins there are in the body.
The knee fold is responsible for the condition of the liver and once again has to do with toxins. And the calf fold is related to cortisol, testosterone and recovery.
What I found more interesting was the way the athletes went to the gym for measurements once every two weeks. On the basis of the measurements, changes are made to the training and nutrition plans (not everyone does this, of course, but rather the people who were more serious about their training and have goals that require more specific fine-tuning). As the saying goes, what will help you get down to 20% body fat from 28% is not the same thing that will help you get down to 10% from 15%. One requires more general advice, while the other one requires a lot stricter and more precise recommendations. I’m not saying this to make you start obsessing.
But let me get back to the knee and calf skinfolds. You know that the main place where toxins are stored is body fat. When we go on a diet and start burning fat and losing weight, at the beginning the knee skinfolds may get bigger initially, even though the other folds are getting smaller. Why is that? Because toxins are released while fat is being burned and the liver has to deal with them, i.e. this skinfold gets bigger temporarily.
The calf fold, on the other hand, is an indicator of recovery and sometimes, if the training plan is changed and you gain more muscle mass, this fold can get slightly thicker, because the body can’t recover and is under more stress. Naturally, this can be controlled stress and adjustments can be made to the training plan based on that.
2. You have to earn your carbohydrates
One of the good things I was reminded of there is that what applies at one stage of your preparation may not apply at a later stage. The same is true of diet and training. Although everyone there was quite strict with their diet, no one went to extremes by praising or vilifying a particular macronutrient. The principle they stuck to was that carbohydrates have to be earned and according to them, if a person has over 20% body fat, they need to reduce their carbohydrate intake as much as possible and increase fat. And the more your insulin sensitivity improves, the more carbohydrates you can include in your diet. In other words, the lower your body fat percentage, the more carbohydrates you can afford to eat.
I must point out something here. Since nothing should be taken at face value, from my experience so far I can tell you that in my opinion this does not apply to the average person. This is a strategy that can be followed by athletes or people who have particular goals and are willing to work hard and do what they need to do. When it comes to a person who wants to be healthy and fitter, what works is a significantly more balanced approach and I see this everyday in my practice with every person I work online with. For most people forbidding something or restricting it leads to a temporary result which is then followed by episodes of emotional eating and getting stuck in a vicious circle in general. For me one of the main mistakes in the fitness industry is that these individual differences are not taken into consideration – what training and eating strategies work for what type of people. At Wolf Gate Gym they took this into account and the above advice was definitely intended for the members with specific goals. As for average people who wanted to be fit, the advice given to them was quite balanced as well and the coaches did not torment the clients with precise calculations and strategies. They gave them more general advice and just held them accountable for changing their habits – gradually. This is very important and I hope you will understand it.
3. Betaine hydrochloride, stomach acid and digestion
You probably know that a lot of people have digestive issues and in fact many have low production of stomach acid which aids digestion. At Wolf Gate Gym one of the first things they do is to advise you to get betaine hydrochloride (Betaine HCl) which is basically natural stomach acid. They make you do a test. Let’s take lunch for example. You divide it in two and when you get to the middle, you take an HCl tablet. If you don’t get a burning sensation in your stomach, you take two tablets with your next meal. If you still experience no burning sensation, you take three tablets with your next meal. This way you increase the dosage until you get that burning sensation. When you do, you start taking one tablet less with your next meal. You take this dosage until you start getting the burning sensation with it and then keep decreasing. As a whole, the better the condition of your stomach and digestion, the lower dosage you need to experience the burning sensation. Charles Poliquin says that there have been only four people in his entire career who got the burning sensation at the first tablet. Others need more. I myself felt it as early as the second tablet. Naturally, you shouldn’t resort to self-medicating yourselves. Consult a doctor, because everyone is responsible for the experiments they do on themselves. While I was in Prague, I did the test, but even though I have a whole pack of HCl, I don’t intend to use it, because my digestion seems to be fine. HCl aids in protein digestion and if you get a discomfort when you consume meat, eggs and fish, you could consult a doctor who can tell you if this is right for you and what the dosage should be.
4. Dietary supplements
You know I am not one of those people who take a lot of dietary supplements. Even the times I have had a protein shake can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Still, it was an enormous pleasure for me to see supplements from a different angle and if you followed my Instagram Story, you could also see the variety of protein powders I tested. The most disgusting thing was the salmon protein powder they challenged me to try. I nearly gave up fish. But the other protein powders that tasted like pistachio and latte macchiato were delicious. I definitely realized it matters what kind of supplements you take. There I bought a protein powder and amino acids that I now add to my diet on workout days. But unlike everything I have tried here, I like how these taste and the quality is much better. First of all, they lack the artificial intense color and the tart taste I always feel in the products I have tested here. Of course, everyone there takes different supplements and some of them definitely take a lot. But for me amino acids, protein powder and to some extent glutamate are the main supplements that could be added to the diet of people who train more and those who have already made sure to clean up their diet and add enough quality food. But I am still not a supporter of supplements as a replacement for food or as the first and most important thing you need to get when you start training. My advice to you is to take care of the basics first and then consider supplements.
What everyone there does is take BCAA with added electrolytes during workouts and then everyone drinks a protein shake after workouts, of course. Everyone there emphasizes that after a workout you must aim to reduce your cortisol levels and get enough leucine in the form of whey protein (at least a dose of 30 grams) and a combination of 0.6 g/kg of BCAA, and the people who have “earned their carbohydrates” add approximately 2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. At Wolf Gate Gym one of the most popular supplements for the men who were building muscle mass was Pentacarb. This is a combination of 5 fast-digesting carbohydrate forms. The other supplements they recommended to everyone were magnesium bisglycinate which is basically the best absorbable form of magnesium and Omega-3, of course.
Naturally, I learned a lot more, but I can’t fit everything into one post, so in future you will be learning more. In my next post I will tell you about some other experiences in Prague and about my diet there, of course.