The Basics: nutrition and training

last updated: 10 Feb 2019.

For tailor made nutrition and training plans please contact me:

I get a lot of questions about diet and training. How to lose weight? How to add more muscle?
Believe it or not some time ago I had the same questions. The answer is a lot easier than you think, although a lot of people would rather take a magic pill that helps overnight. Wouldn't we all? Unfortunately it doesn't work like that, but with a bit of attention and discipline you can achieve your goal, too.

Your weight loss or muscle size is all in your diet. You might have heard the expression: 'abs are made in the kitchen' before. That is absolutely true. Your diet is 70% of your success.

Now when I say diet, I don't mean a crash diet, or a so called reduced calorie diet. I'm talking about your nutrition. By eating the right food in the right amount it is not impossible to control your weight, whether you want to lose or increase.

There are different body types and each body type (and more or less each individual) needs a different nutrition plan, tailor made for their needs and their lifestyle. People who work by sitting at a table all day need less energy throughout the day than others who do physical activity. Depending on your body type and the physical activity you do during the day you should plan your nutrition. Other factors you should take into consideration are your age, your gender, your basic metabolic rate (BMR) and how much lean body mass (LBM) you carry.

Preparing your food in advance help you eat regularly and you wouldn't have to rely on what is available in shops nearby because you always have your prepared and measured food with you. That would prevent you from eating anything that's available/junk when you're hungry.

Your food can be broken down to macronutrients and micronutrients.

The macronutrients supply the body with energy and serve as the building blocks for growth and repair. These are:

  • Protein: essential, everything is made out of protein building material
  • Carbohydrates: energy source
  • Fats: energy source

The micronutrients are nutrients present in the diet and body in small amounts. They do not provide significant amounts of calories to the body but act as cofactors in making biomolecules, function as electrolytes, function as enzymes and have structural roles.

  • Essential vitamins and minerals
  • non-essential vitamins and minerals
  • vitamin like substances
  • other dietary biomolecules that are important in performance and health


Proteins build muscle. 1 gr of protein equals to =  4 kcal.

However protein does not only build muscle but all tissues in your body. Your hair, your nails, organs etc they all need protein in your body. Protein is essential for growth and recovery. It must always be available in the body. If protein is not available the body has to take it from within and it has to break down some tissue to provide protein.

Collagen (connective tissue) makes up 1/3 of total body protein content, making it one of the most common proteins in the body.

Amino acids are required to spare muscle breakdown during exercise. Amino acids can also be used for energy but when they're used for energy, they cannot be used for building muscle tissues and performing their other metabolic functions. That's why it is essential to maintain a proper daily protein intake each hour of the day.

  • Protein raises the metabolism because it costs the body more to digest protein than carbs or fats
  • It helps manage blood sugar and insulin, decreasing cravings for carbs
  • It triggers protein synthesis which recovers/builds/preserves lean muscle mass so your body burns more calories at rest

The best protein sources:

  • Eggs: they provide a number of amino acids that the body can use to repair muscle tissue. They are also very high in vitamin D and K, which are fat soluble vitamins, and both are necessary for bone building. Eggs also cause a release of  hormones that keep you full which leads people to eat less in subsequent meals.
  • Grass fed beef: it provides and excellent profile of amino acids (isoleucine, leucine and valine), also has zinc, magnesium and iron.
  • Salmon and other cold water fish: salmon has a wide array of amino acids, Vitamin B12, niacin, selenium, potassium and iron.
  • Chicken and poultry: chicken has the highest protein content per gram.
  • Whey protein: it stimulates protein synthesis. Whey is highly digestible and contains boatloads of amino acids that are involved in muscle building, metabolism, and immune function.



Carbohydrates  give you energy. Depending on what and how much activity you do during the day you need a different amount of them.

1 gr of carbs equals to = 4 kcal

Most common carbohydrate sources are: rice, porridge, couscous, pasta, and also sugars.

You should be having 6-8 meals spread out during the day (every 2-3 hours), each with protein and depending on your activity carbs and/or fats with some of them so that you provide your body with constant energy.

It is very important to get your protein and carbs straight after weight training to replenish the depleted muscle glycogen.

Carbohydrates are made up of molecules called saccharides. There are 3 basic types of carbs:

  • simple carbs (sugars)
  • complex carbs (starches)
  • non-starch polysaccharides (fibres)

Simple carbs are simply sugars and usually made up from a combination of glucose, fructose and galactose. Simple carbs shouldn't form the basis of your nutrition. However sugars are very useful during and straight after training when the glycogen is depleted from the muscles.
We cannot utilise any carbs without Vitamin B. Fresh fruit provides its own vitamin and mineral requirements for the body, however heavily refined and processed foods (like cakes, biscuits etc) still provide us with energy but without needed vitamins. Refined carbs are referred to as 'anti-nutrient'.

Complex carbs once eaten, they're broken down into glucose, absorbed into the bloodstream and either stored or metabolised. All complex carbs will provide energy, however their real dietary value depends on whether they are refined or unrefined. Examples of refined carbs: white bread, white pasta, cakes, biscuits and pastries, rice cakes, white rice. They contain excessive sugar, low quality fats and contain no vitamins or minerals. Unrefined carbs are the wholemeal and wholegrain products, vegetables (frozen or fresh), sweet potatoes, yams. These sources contain fructose and glucose, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, high levels of dietary fibre and trace of amino acids.

Fibre consist of non-starch polysaccharide. These are found in fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Fibre doesn't provide energy. It aids the transportation of foods through the digestive tract. There are 2 types of fibre:

  • insoluble: the outer protective layer of plants
  • soluble: the inner parts of the plants



Fats and oils belong to a family of organic compounds called lipids.

1 gr of fat equals to = 9 kcal

At room temperature lipids which are liquid are called oils, and those which are solid are called fats. The smaller units of fats are called fatty acids. Fatty acids naturally occur as triglycerides, where three fatty acids attach to a carbohydrate backbone called glycerol. During digestion the fatty acids are broken off and then used in the body as required.

Saturated fats
There are specific needs for saturated fat to be included within the daily diet:

  • enhancement of the immune system
  • provision of energy and structural integrity to the cells
  • enhancement of liver function and protection against alcohol detoxification
  • the coconut oil has the ability to act as an antimicrobal and antiviral agent

Unsaturated oils
They come in 2 main categories:
Monounsaturated fatty acids: diets high in monounsaturated fats have been shown to lower both LDL cholesterol and plasma triglycerides and are therefore thought to reduce the risk of CHD.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids: they have 2 sub divisions which are considered essential to the daily diet:
Essential fatty acids: the human body is unable to synthesize them itself. These are the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Transfats or hydrogenated fats

Transfats are actually unsaturated fats, but they can raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while also lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Trans fats are used to extend the shelf life of processed foods, typically cookies, cakes, fries and donuts. Any item that contains “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” likely contains trans fats. Hydrogenation is the chemical process that changes liquid oils into solid fats.

The 10 major genetic variables affecting fitness, fat loss, muscle development and athletic ability

  1. Basal metabolic rate – BMR
  2. Number of fat cells: you were born with a predetermined number of fat cells. The number can increase but it cannot decrease. However the size of the fat cells can decrease.
  3. Limb lengths: affects the way your body's symmetry appears. It can also affect your strength, your athletic prowess/skill and the ability to gain muscle mass.
  4. Joint circumferences: people may be either large boned, medium or small boned. It has no effect on the ability to lose bodyfat.
  5. Muscle insertions: the muscles insert onto the same bones in every person however the exact point of insertion can vary. Even a tiny difference in insertion points can create large increases in mechanical advantage.
  6. Number of muscle fibers: like fat cells you were also born with a predetermined number of muscle fibers.
  7. Muscle fiber types: Endurance activities – red/slow titch fibers, strength activities – white/fast titch fibers. The difference between the ration of muscle fiber types in each person explains why someone makes a good endurance athlete and others are better at strength exercises.
  8. Digestive capabilities: some people have highly efficient digestive system capable of greater absorption and utilisation of nutrients.
  9. Food allergies and insensitivities: over the years people tend to naturally gravitate towards certain foods while shying away from others. Some people become vegetarians simply how certain type of foods make them feel.
  10. Insulin response and sensitivity to carbohydrates: your level of sensitivity to carbohydrates will have a direct bearing on your ability to lose bodyfat.

The theory of somatotyping – understanding your bodytype - this depends on your genetics, but it by all means it does not define your capabilities of building muscles or your best physique. Everyone is different and everyone reacts to certain food/diets and workouts in a different way. This somatotyping just helps you understand why you don't improve the way other people do. It's not set in stone, it just guides you what you need to do differently - and it definitely is NOT a reason why you cannot gain muscles or lose fat. Gaining muscles or losing fat is in your diet. However a 'generic' diet will not work for everyone - you need to understand your own body, how it works.

Endomorphs: 'fat retainers', roundness, large joints
Mezomorphs: athletic types, low bodyfat, high muscle mass
Ectomorphs: skinny types, very low bodyfat, very thin and bony

Most people tend to gravitate towards 1 bodytype only however generally it is a mixture of 2 bodytypes, sometimes even all 3.

The Ectomorph

The ectomorph people are tall and skinny with small joints and waist, low strength levels and fast metabolism. They don't store carbs as fat, have high energy levels therefore they're natural born endurance athletes, respond best to low volume, high intensity infrequent weight training. They are naturally lean and don't store no excess bodyfat while doing no cv at all. They have an overly efficient metabolism, however they find it very difficult to gain muscle.

How to maximise results:

  1. Slow down: ectomorphs are very hyperactive. They need to slow down and do less activity.
  2. Get extra sleep: because they burn so much calories even while not physically active it's important for ectomorphs to get plenty of quality sleep.
  3. Reduce stress and worry: ectomorphs tend to be hyperactive and stressed. Stress reduction techniques can help the ectomorphs get better results from their nutrition and training programs.
  4. Avoid overtraining: ectomorphs respond best to brief, high intensity training programs. They must get in and out of the gym quickly and get enough time to recover.
  5. Keep cv to the minimum: cv should be kept to the minimum and only for health reasons. 15-30 min a day 3x a week should be sufficient.
  6. Keep calories high and never ever miss a meal: ectomorphs need to eat high calorie density foods and use moderate amounts of good fats (flax seed oil, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, salmon – cold water fish.
  7. Use a diet moderately high in complex carbs: 50-55% carbs, 30% lean protein, 15-20% fats
  8. Pay attention to food quality: ectomorphs can get away with eating certain foods without having a bad effect on their bodies. Nutrition is not just for cosmetic improvements but for health too, and they should be concerned about nutrition density, too.


The Mesomorph (the genetic freaks):

Mesomorphs are naturally lean and muscular with small waists, broad shoulders, medium sized joints and large, round muscle bellies. They are the typical natural born athletes and bodybuilders. They are naturally lean, have high energy levels, they don't store carbs as fats and they have a highly efficient metabolism. They gain strength and muscle easy and they lose bodyfat easy too. They also respond very well to any type of training and they get fast results.


Unfortunately the gift of good genetics sometimes make people lazy therefore sometimes pure mesomorphs don't recognize their potential because they fail to train hard or eat clean – because they see results anyway. However if they train properly and take their nutrition seriously and pay attention to food quality, they can shoot to the top and quickly become a success.


The Endomorph:

An endomorph is someone with a slow metabolism, who is working hard but struggle to see results. They are genetically prone to store bodyfat, and usually but not always large framed with medium to large joints.


Endomorphs do have a varying degree of carbohydrate sensitivity and insulin resistance. They have a hard time to lose bodyfat by diet alone, usually they need the added boost of cardio and exercise.

Endomorph training and nutrition approach:

For fat loss they need a well planned approach with high level of activity and extreme levels of discipline.

  1. Their diet should be high in protein and medium to low in carbohydrates. Sugars and refined carbohydrates tend to convert to bodyfat rapidly in endomorphs because of the way they affect insulin.
  2. Exercise is an absolute must. Even a close to perfect diet would not work alone to lose bodyfat for endomorphs. Exercise provides an extra boost in metabolism that they need to lose bodyfat. Endomorphs need to combine good nutrition, weight training and aerobic training/cardio in order to lose bodyfat effectively.
  3. Endomorphs need a larger quantity of cardio to lose body fat. Depending on how much endomorph you have in you, you might be able to get away with 4-5x cardio / week, but extreme endomorphs need 7 days a week cardio. They usually tend to put the fat back on once they stop exercising / cardio, therefore it is a lifelong commitment for them to keep exercising.
  4. The best strategy for an endomorph is to get active and stay active. They should take up some recreational activities besides their exercise regime.
  5. For endomorphs exercise is essential, not only for health reasons but to keep the fat off. Get your momentum going and keep going.
  6. Endomorphs must push themselves continuously. Their training should be high intensity. “Don't relax your efforts. Otherwise it will take you a long time to achieve what you are after”
  7. For someone with a naturally low metabolism, the only way to keep it elevated is with a high frequency of training.
  8. Avoid over sleeping. Getting up early for morning cardio is one of the best strategies for endomorphs.
  9. Restrict carbohydrates but don't remove them completely.
  10. Keep cheat meals to once per week.
  11. Endomorphs have to be persistent and consistent. Going on and off diet and exercise programs will never work for an endomorph. The results will come but it takes longer for an endomorph to lose body fat than for an ectomorph or mesomorph, so be patient.


These are the sheer basics of nutrition. If you need a tailor made nutrition plan, please contact me for details:

Many people ask me what a nutrition plan is like. Here is a SAMPLE nutrition plan how I give it to my clients. This is only the food, I provide a supplement plan as well with the food.

Breakfast: 100 gr oats, 2 scoops of whey protein isolate
Meal 2: 100 gr rice, 250 gr chicken breast grilled, green salad
Meal 3: 200 gr potato baked, 2 cans of tuna in brine or 200 gr tuna steak
Meal 4: 100 gr rice, 200 gr salmon grilled with green salad


Post w/o: 100 gr Vitargo, 2 scoops of protein
Meal 5: 150 gr potato baked, 200 gr chicken breast grilled, broccoli
Before bed: 300 gr fat free cottage cheese, salad

For personalized nutrition plans please get in touch:



As I established above, your nutrition is 70% of your success. The remaining 30% is your training and your rest when you grow.

We all have different goals and different priorities in our lives. I do understand that not everyone can train 5-6 days a week to maintain or achieve a certain physique.

If you only have 2 days to train, your training split could be:
Upper body (arms, chest, back and shoulders)
Lower body (legs: hams/glutes/quads and calves and abs)

3 days split example:

4 days split example:

5 days split example:

If you have a lagging bodypart, train it after a rest day when you're fresh and strong. The order of the bodyparts could be changed depending on how you feel. I generally try not to train chest and shoulders one after the other and usually put legs in the middle to break up the upper body workout.

Generally for muscle growth you need to do 10-15 reps in each set. If you can do more than 15 reps with a certain weight, increase it. If you cannot do 10 reps, decrease the weight.

Generally I do 16-24 sets on each bodypart - but I train one bodypart a day. If you do more than one bodypart then obviously you can't do that many.
Try and finish your workout within 45-60 mins. Anything longer than that is probably either more chatting than training or your muscles are fatigue anyway and you don't do any more good to them.