Here at the Strength & Conditioning Institute we sometimes have people visit us wanting to run before they can walk. Not just that, but figuratively speaking, they might want to challenge Usain Bolt for the 100m World Record before they can walk!
While we absolutely love their enthusiasm, it's often short-lived: people seem to want a flashy, complex programme which will offer quick short-term results, rather than to spend time consistently establishing basic fundamentals to create sustainable long-term results. There seems to be a common belief that the greater the complexity of a plan, the more effective it is likely to be. In reality, this desire for complexity is vastly overshadowed by the fact that a consistent foundation has not yet been established.
Before you spend sixty pounds on the latest fat-burning or pre-workout supplements, or consume a highly specific amount of protein in a narrow 'post-workout window', you must ensure the basic law of thermodynamics has been properly implemented: if you don't have a clear idea of the amount of calories you require to maintain your current weight, then you are 'Majoring in the Minors' - which is like worrying about the colour of your curtains before you've built the house!
So our tip today is simply to 'keep it simple'. Always start with the basics. Work out how many calories are required to maintain your weight. From this point you can increase or decrease your calorie consumption based on your unique goals. Until this baseline is established, it is not worth worrying about anything else. More often than not, the basics are enough!
Alex & Martin (DS Contributors)