Gym Jones nutrition expert Jaelyn Wolf explains why these four guidelines are crucial when it comes to making real body composition changes


Jaelyn is a Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor, Head of Community at LMNT,


and a certified nutritional therapist.

This week at Gym Jones HQ, we’re beginning our foundation phase aimed at helping our members reset physiologically and mentally after a very strenuous four month strength training cycle. As Gym Jones resident nutritionist, I thought this would also be a good time to cover some of our basic nutritional principles as our athletes prepare to switch up their programming. A common refrain you may have heard at our gym is: “You can’t out train a shitty diet.” This basically means no matter how many hours you spend on that rower, if your diet is not on point your efforts are essentially wasted. While every athlete has different goals and thus wildly varied nutritional needs, there are 4 guidelines I suggest every one of my clients should follow that lead to long term success. It sounds easy in theory but trust me when I say it’s harder to execute in real life.

Monika McKamey is a seasoned athlete who has competed in bodybuilding and crossfit.

1. Get clear about what your goals are.

So many folks come to me saying they want to lose body fat or gain muscle but they have a hard time articulating why they want to do this. I often work with clients to narrow down what these goals actually mean to them. Do you want to be more comfortable in your own skin? Do you want to have more energy during the day? Do you want to look better in your two-piece? Getting really clear about your goals, what is important to you, and what that looks like for you is integral to achieving what you want. At some point, this will get challenging. Really challenging. However, if you have a solid understanding of your why, you’re less likely to falter. Be realistic, but push yourself.  Setting goals can also include getting really clear—fast—on your non-negotiables. Are you unwilling to give up that glass of wine every night? That’s fine, but there may come a time that you need to consider if that choice is hindering your progress.

Take your recovery seriously!

2. Know that sleep impacts everything…

…from hormonal balance to blood sugar regulation. Inadequate amounts of sleep and poor-quality sleep impact your body’s hunger signals (Leptin and Ghrelin), raise cortisol levels, increase insulin resistance, etc. Bottom line, if you want to see body composition changes or improvements in your performance you. need. to. sleep. Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night, if not more. I don’t let myself train on less than 6 hours of sleep. You are often doing more harm than good if you crush yourself after a few days of poor sleep as sleep has been linked to an increase in injury risk, negative impacts on one’s immune system and interference in tissue repair. Ben Greenfield has an excellent resource on sleep that covers all of this research. You can find it here.

Miyo Strong follows a ketogenic diet to support her rigorous training as a competitive BJJ athlete.

3. Don’t adhere to the “if it fits your macros” approach

(meaning eating a pint of ice cream or candy bar at the end of the day because the numbers tell you you can). Food quality is everything. My background as a nutritional therapy practitioner focuses on properly prepared nutrient dense diets to optimize digestion, blood sugar regulation, fatty acid balance, mineral balance and hydration. We recognize the bio-individuality of each person, however, there are some rules that I tell clients they need to follow: 1. Eliminate vegetable oils. 2. Reduce or eliminate all processed and refined food-like substances including refined sugar. 3. Eat for an outcome. This last one goes back to our conversation about goals. If you want to put on muscle, you will be eating in a caloric surplus and if you want to lose body fat, you will be eating in a caloric deficit. I have found that most people have been underfeeding themselves for a long time and we often have to get them back up to maintenance calories. You won’t have enough energy in the gym if you are under eating and you won’t be able to optimize health or performance if you are eating like an idiot.

Jaelyn completes her 2k row test during her Gym Jones Advanced Seminar.

4. Find real ways to track progress.

Some folks want to track macros, others don’t. Either approach is fine if it works for your lifestyle and goals. You can bullshit yourself or me all you want, but markers of progress such as body fat percentage, measurements and weight in addition to performance, mood, energy levels and sleep are all metrics that we use to see how your lifestyle changes are affecting your body and mind. Just as we believe in accountability and tracking inside the gym, the same goes for your efforts outside the gym. Get your body fat tested so that we have an accurate starting point. (I prefer a DEXA scan and I like to have clients test every 6 months.) Pay attention to which foods affect your digestion and energy levels. A food and mood journal is a great way to track how your food choices are affecting your internal health and performance.  If your goals are important to you, building in accountability to help you reach them is integral to long term success.

Brannon Lucas has trained at Gym Jones HQ for several years.

I have a few spots left for one-on-one nutrition consulting for those willing to put in the time and effort to see long term results. I take a food first approach when working with clients and emphasize sustainable lifestyle changes that recognize the bio-individuality of each client in order to optimize performance, body composition and overall health and wellbeing. Email me at to see if it’s a good fit.