The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of nutrients is set by the National Research Council. Desirable levels for those vitamins that are known to be essential are based on available scientific knowledge and are considered adequate to meet the known nutritional needs of practically all healthy people. These levels are intended to apply to those people whose physical activity is considered LIGHT and live in temperate climates. However, in a government survey of the individual diet of 21,500 Americans (The Anarem Report), not one of the diets met the RDA for each of 10 nutrients. This poses the first problem in regard to RDAs - many individuals are not able to meet the RDAs through their diets.
The second problem is the determination of the RDA. The set standards are not meant to be final or optimal. The RDAs are essentially based upon negative criterion: the absence of obvious nutritional disease. So the RDA's are not designed to produce wellness - just absence of disease. There is a big difference between being "not sick" and true wellness. For example getting the RDA of certain key micronutrients will prevent overt diseases from insufficient micronutrients such as anemia, rickets, pellagra, beriberi, night blindness, or other nutrient deficiency disease. However this does not mean that the RDA will insure optimal physiological functioning. A clear example of this is the RDA for vitamin C which is designed to prevent Scurvy which is caused by lack of sufficient vitamin C. The RDA for Vitamin C is anywhere from 40 mg per day (for a baby 6 months old or younger) to 135mg per day for an adult who smokes. However, research shows that much higher dosages are better for reducing risk or cardiovascular disease, cateracts and other chronic conditions.
If we want to know how well an individual is nourished, we must evaluate the entire style of life he/she is pursuing in terms of how closely it reflects the full energy-producing capacity of his/her nervous system and fitness level. It is at this level that both inferior nutrition and superior nutrition will clearly manifest themselves.
Additionally, people who exercise to lose fat without losing muscle, or to increase muscle mass without adding fat, should take supplements. The increase in nutrients through supplementation will assist the body in coping with and adapting to the new stimuli (i.e., exercise, additional stresses) without additional calories. The nutritional needs of an active individual or athlete, with few exceptions, cannot be met through food intake alone.
When attempting to lose fat while gaining muscle tissue, it becomes virtually impossible to receive the necessary nutrients from food alone. The formula for losing fat, while increasing muscle tissue, is a combination of a nutritionally-dense lowered caloric intake and the proper exercise recommendation. To continue building muscle, it is necessary that the diet includes a specific amount of nutrient-dense calories, which must continually increase as lean mass increases. A significant increase in caloric intake will impede the attempt to lose fat, and participation in competitive sports or attempting maximize genetic potential as is the case in bodybuilding will markedly increase the importance of supplementation. The three primary purposes for nutrition supplementation are:
1) To provide nutritional insurance or optimal health;
2) To provide nutrients without the addition of calories;
3) To provide readily available nutrients at the proper times and in the proper quantities, in response to exercise.
The key to achieving your ideal body is to direct the body to use its stored fat to supply the extra calories needed to build or sustain muscle, therefore reducing your fat stores. As a result, muscle is built or sustained at the expense of your bodyfat.
The primary nutrition supplements needed by most individuals consist of a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula along with an Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplement. Stay tuned for the next Workout Anytime Blog on how to design an effective Nutrition Supplementation Strategy.