Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle or improve any aspect of your body or health, setting up your diet plan correctly is an absolute requirement for reaching any type of goals.
Between your daily calorie, protein, fat and carb intake and the food sources you’re getting these nutrients from, diet and nutrition tends to be the area of difficulty.
People focus on their workout routines, and the exercises for muscle groups they train, on what days and how much weight they lift, and for how many sets and reps yet nothing about the diet plan involved.
Realistically this is the number 1 reason you’re not losing fat or building muscle. If your diet plan isn’t set up the way it needs to be for your goal to be reached, then your goal will not be achieved.
How should you eat to support your goal? How do you figure out what the intake should be for:
- Your daily calorie.
Also, what food sources those nutrients should and should not come from? How do you set up your ideal diet plan?
Here at gymguider we are going to show you how to do it:
Daily Calorie Intake:
Your daily calorie intake is the most important part. As you will see:
definitely matter, but nothing influences your ability to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle or do anything similar as much as calories do.
This is because almost everything we eat and drink contains calories, and everything we do that requires movement, burns calories. The difference between how many calories we consume and how many calories we burn is the most important factor in every diet plan.
How To Use Calories To Manage Your Weight?
There is a certain number of calories that your body requires every day in order for it to maintain your current weight. We call this your “daily calorie maintenance level.” It’s the amount of calories your body requires each day in order to do everything it needs to do.
Now, if your diet plan is made up of more, less or the same amount of calories as your maintenance level, 1 of 3 things will always happen:
- If you eat more calories than your maintenance level, you will gain weight. This is a requirement for building muscle.
- If you eat less calories than your maintenance level, you will lose weight. This is a requirement for losing fat.
- If you eat the SAME amount of calories as your maintenance level, your weight will stay the same. This is a requirement for maintaining your current weight.
These 3 simple facts are will assist you in achieving whichever goal you are aspiring to aim towards.
Estimating Your Maintenance Level:
The first step in figuring out what your daily calorie intake needs to be is estimating what your maintenance level is. Multiply your current body weight in pounds by 14 and 17. Somewhere between those 2 amounts will usually be your maintenance level.
People who should use the lower end of the scale are:
- Less active people.
- A slower metabolism.
People who should use the higher end of the scale are:
- More active people.
- A faster metabolism.
People who are unsure should pick a number in the middle, then calculate based on trial of reaction with the body.
Related article: How Many Meals Should I Be Eating A Day?
Adjusting Your Daily Calorie Intake:
Now that you have a good estimate of what your maintenance level is, it’s time to adjust it for your specific goal. Here’s how:
- If you want to lose weight, subtract around 500 calories from your estimated maintenance level and start eating this amount each day.
- To build muscle or gain weight, add around 300-500 calories to your estimated maintenance level and start eating this amount each day.
- Maintaining your current weight, don’t make any adjustments.
To ensure your daily calorie intake is correct, you need toabout once per week first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything, and monitor if your weight is moving in the right direction at the ideal rate:
- For losing weight, 1-2lbs lost per week is usually perfect.
- For gaining weight or building muscle, 0.5-1lb gained per week is usually perfect.
So, if that’s happening, you’re perfect. Continue eating this daily calorie intake from that point on.
But if it’s not, then all you need is to adjust up or down in small 250 calorie increments until it is.
Now that your daily calorie intake is set up, it’s time to set up the protein, fat and carbs that will supply these calories.
Daily Protein Intake:
The next most important part of your diet plan is your daily protein intake. It plays a huge role in controlling your hunger and keeping you satisfied, and, if weight loss is your goal, it’s the dietary key to ensuring that the weight you lose is fat and not muscle.
If you’re looking to improve your body, you should usually be eating between 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, with an even 1 gram of protein per pound being the most common recommendation.
Most people should use their current body weight when doing this calculation: (so a 180lb person would eat 180 grams of protein per day), but people who are truly obese should use their goal body weight instead (so a 300lb person trying to get down to 200lbs would eat about 200 grams of protein per day).
What are the best sources of protein?
Some common high quality sources of protein include…
- Eggs/Egg Whites
- Protein Supplements
Related article: How to Build Muscle On a Budget : Top 7 Cheap Sources of Protein
Daily Fat Intake:
After your daily calorie and protein intake, your daily fat intake is the next part of your diet plan that needs to be set up. There are primarily 4 different types of fat:
- Trans- trans fat should be avoided completely.
- Saturated- saturated fat should typically be limited to no more than 1/3 of your total daily fat intake.
- Monounsaturated- monounsaturated fats should comprise the majority of it.
- Polyunsaturated- polyunsaturated fats should comprise the majority of it.
Each has a significantly different effect on the human body. A definite extra emphasis should be placed on getting enough of a specific polyunsaturated fatty acid, the omega-3.
Ideal Daily Fat Intake:
In most cases, somewhere between 20-30% of your total daily calorie intake should come from fat, with an even 25% often being just right for most people.
So, calculate what 25% of your total daily calorie intake is, then divide that amount by 9 (because 1g of fat contains 9 calories) to figure out how many grams you’d need to eat per day.
What Are The Best Sources Of Fat?
Some common high quality sources of fat include…
- Fish Oil Supplements (highly recommended).
- Olive Oil.
Daily Carb Intake:
The reason we left carbs for last is because out of the 3 macro-nutrients that supply our daily calories (protein, fat and carbs), carbs are the least important.
Carbs are extremely useful and a sufficient amount should definitely be eaten. However, protein and fat are the only macro-nutrients that are truly essential to the human body and must be present in our diet plan in order to live and function.
Related article: How To Calculate Your Macros For A Weight Loss And Muscle Gain Diet
Your Ideal Daily Carb Intake:
Remember the daily calorie intake you calculated before? Subtract calories from protein and calories from fat from that amount. Whatever amount of calories are still left over, those calories will come from carbs.
Here’s an example:
- You calculated that you need to eat 2000 calories per day to lose weight or build muscle.
- Next, you figured out that you need to eat 150 grams of protein per day. Since 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories, that means 600 of this example person’s daily calories will come from protein.
- Since 25% of your calories should come from fat, this example can calculate that, 500 of their 2000 daily calories will come from fat (2000 x 0.25 = 500). To figure out how many grams of fat that would be, they’d just divide 500 by 9 (since there’s 9 calories per gram of fat) and get about 55 grams of fat per day.
- So that’s 600 calories from protein plus 500 calories from fat which gives this person 1100 calories accounted for so far (600 + 500 = 1100).
- Now just subtract 1100 from their 2000 total and get 900 left over calories. Since 1 gram of carbs contains 4 calories, this example person can see that they should eat 225 grams of carbs per day (900 divided by 4 = 225).
Just repeat this same process using your actual daily calorie, protein, fat and carb intake instead of the example amounts used in the example above.
Best Source Of Carbs?
Some common high quality sources of carbs include:
- Brown Rice.
- Whole Grains.
Your Diet Plan:
Now that you know how many calories and grams of protein, fat and carbs to eat per day and which foods they should usually come from, you’re probably wondering how it should all be put together and organised.
What times should you eat, how many meals should you eat, and how big or small should each meal be? Truthfully, it doesn’t matter.
So, the real answer to every question you have about how to best put your diet plan together is this:
- Eat the right total amount of calories, protein, fat and carbs each day.
- Get them from mostly higher quality sources.
- Eat a proper post workout meal.
- Do everything else in your diet, in whatever way is most enjoyable and convenient for you.