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Nutrition: How Hypo or Hyper can you be?

Posted 6th March 2016 by Josh Schouten

tortoiseandhareA few weeks back we talked about calorie balance being the most import principle of nutrition, but it’s not be all and end all. There are many additional factors that impact our body composition. I often hear stories about “so called personal trainers,” or “so called nutritionists” making foolish comments like “all you need to do to loose weight is to cut calories.” These morons need to wake up and learn a little more about nutrition before they waste their breath handing out bad advice. If your coach/trainer is selling you the idea that “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie”, you need to find a new coach and stop throwing your money down the toilet. #truestory

Before introducing the principle of calorie balance we touched on the quantity and quality of the food you should be eating, so don’t skip over this blog post.

All calories are NOT CREATED EQUAL. Carbs, fats and proteins dictate a hormone response in your body – eating 100-calories of sugar does not have the same hormone response as 100-calories of vegetables, 100-calories of lean meat, or 100-calories of healthy fats. Certain foods make you feel fuller for longer and certain foods contain more fibre, more vitamins and more minerals. The idea that simply eating a diet that “fits your calorific requirements” is bullsh**, and is never going to equal results. In a future post we will talk more about macronutrient requirements and hopefully give you further knowledge on the types of foods and quantity you should be eating.

This week however we will touch more on the concept of hyper-caloric and hypo-caloric nutrition plans and why/how we can use them to successfully achieve our body composition targets.

Now that you know your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR) and you know about the demands of physical activity, you can start to determine your calorific intake on training days and rest days. These numbers are specific to a balanced calorie input and output balance and possibly not the most optimal way to reach you desired goals.

Look good naked goal (lets be honest, this is what we are want):

If your body fat percentage is male > 15%, female > 18%, you will most likely benefit from a hypo-caloric approach to your nutrition. If your body fat percentage is lower than these values then possibly a balanced or a hyper-caloric approach to you nutrition would be more beneficial. If you don’t know your body fat percentage please book in with one of our trainers to get this measured. Remember no one diet plan is suitable for every situation and certain health factors can impact the end result ,food allergies and minerals balance is a key factor.

Muscle gains are slower for those with higher body fat percentages, muscle loss is faster for those who have very low body fat percentages. Higher energy deficits lead to more muscle loss as a percent of weight loss, higher energy surpluses lead to higher fat gains as a percent of weight gain. This shit is complex and anybody that tries to tell you otherwise is a muppet and someone who has very little understanding of the role nutrition and exercise has to play in health and body composition improvements.

How Hypo or Hyper can you be?

Both research and some practical experience, would suggest that an optimal rate of tissue change seems to be supported by a 0.5-1.0kg per week weight loss or gain. These numbers apply to most individuals, those who are very underweight or obese will require a different approach. Trying to increase weight loss to be greater than 1kg per week can result in fat loss, but the percentage of lean muscle loss is also likely to increase. Muscle loss is detrimental to body composition improvements, not to mention our strength. An overly aggressive hypo-caloric diet will result in undesirable body composition results and metabolic changes. Skipping meals and significantly cutting calories is NOT THE ANSWER. Almost everyone who wants to lose weight has tried this approach and failed, so why do they keep making the same mistake?

Aerobic training and increased hypo-calorific diets result in muscle breakdown and potential fat increase. Stop jogging and doing spin classes and start eating and lifting weights. The more lean muscle mass you can maintain the faster you will improve your body composition scores. This applies more to the female population who are bombarded by the media and the morons who suggest aerobic conditioning and calorie cutting. Wake up ladies, you are killing your metabolism.

Similarly, weight gain ratios greater than 1kg per week are much more likely to cause disappointing increases in fat mass and compared to relative muscle mass. The concept of “bulking” and then cutting back on calories may work for bodybuilders who are chemically enhanced, but this shi* is not the most optimal way for us mortal humans.

The Calorific Shift.

A good rule of thumb when trying to gain or lose weight is to shift the calorific intake by 500-1000calories per day, assuming calorific expenditure stays unchanged. A 500calorie change will cause a slower transformation than a 1000calorie change, the hare and the tortoise is a valuable lesson. However, it is worth noting that the combination of increasing calorie burning via a combination of exercise and a reduction in calorie intake from nutrition (totalling 500-1000calories) seems to produce the best outcomes.

Creating a hypo-caloric state purely by diet alone is not recommended as our bodies benefit greatly by being exposed to weights training, both mentally and physically.


The old saying of “what is measured can be improved” holds true. Now that you know your BMR, the physical activity level demands and the daily requirements for you calorific intake (on training days and rest days) you should be able to apply the above approach.

Those who are looking to lose weight will subtract 500-1000calories from their daily total, and those looking to increase weight should be aiming to increase calories by the same amount. You will need to record your intake and expenditure if you are going to successfully see results. Yes, this is going to be difficult in the first few weeks. After you establish an idea of food quantity and calorific values the process will become easier.

Remember this is only the start of a much bigger picture. Macronutrient balance, nutrition timing and supplementation are all additional factors that can impact the rate of body composition change. However, there is very little point in talking about these additional principles if you can not get the basics right.

Eat Well, Train Smart, and Get Plenty of Rest