HOW TO CREATE A NUTRITION (DIET) PLAN FOR MYSELF
Lots of people have been asking how to create a nutrition (diet) plan for themselves when there are so many sources of information and their advices frequently contradict each other. Some of them advise eating 8 meals per day, another 3, for exactly the same goal. Some of them recommend eating lots of carbohydrates, while others suggest avoiding them altogether. In this article, I’m giving the answer to the question “how to create a nutrition (diet) plan for myself”, I will also try to simplify things as much as possible, because I understand that most of us aren’t professional bodybuilders or business owners who have the opportunity to eat eight times per day.
How many calories do I need?
To maintain your current weight, you should consume from 13 to 15 calories per pound of your weight daily. So, if your current weight for instance is 200 pounds your caloric intake should fall within a range of 2600 to 3000 calories. But unfortunately, everything isn’t so easy, the thing is that not all calories are equal and some of them are harmful not only for our bodies but for our general health, so always try to avoid junk food. A proper ratio of the consumed calories must be complied with: 30-35% protein, 55-60% high quality carbs, 10-15% healthy fats. Try to divide those calories into five meals every four hours, for example 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm, 12am. The calories from protein should be taken in even quantities with each meal, while calories from carbs and fats should be adjusted depending on your daily activity level.
If your goal is to lose a few pounds, you should consume 11 to 12 calories per pound of your weight. All statements above about the calorie ratio and 5 meals every 4 hours should also be applied. Don’t go below 11 calories per pound even if you can, because: it may lower your metabolism, it could cause fatigue and nutrient deficiencies, it can lower your immunity, and you may feel worn out and week. That’s only a beginning from the full list of negative effects that may be caused by insufficient caloric intake. And one more important thing is that if your caloric consumption will be too small, you will think about food all the time, will not be able to enjoy your diet or your progress, and will probably give up.
To gain lean muscle, your caloric consumption range should be between 16 to 19 calories per pound. The right caloric ratio and 5 meals per day also should be applied. This amount of calories should allow you to grow lean muscles with a minimum amount of fat, yes you won’t gain very much weight, but this strategy will allow you to look good, not just big. If you are going to consume more than these numbers, you should track your body fat because naturally our body can synthesize a maximum of two pounds of muscle per week and all unused calories will be stored in your body as fat. Sure you can cut fat after, but why?
Macro nutrition groups: protein, carbs, and fat
There are three basic macro nutrition groups which are: protein, carbohydrates (carbs), and fat. The only group that builds and develops muscles is protein or, more precisely, the amino acids that protein contains. Protein is also essential for the whole body including muscles, skin, hair, bones, and even internal organs. The best sources of protein are fish, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, and dairy. If you’re not able to consume those sources every 4 hours you can use protein shakes or snacks. Each gram of protein equals 4 calories.
The second group is carbs. This group is more complicated because carbs are divided into a few subgroups. The first one can be called simple or fast carbs because of their molecular structure. They are made up of 1-2 sugar molecules. Examples: sugar, honey, fruits, white bread, white rice etc. This type of carb should be used only before working out or immediately after. Your stomach assimilates simple carbs very fast and if you don’t have enough activity to burn those calories they will be stored as fat in your body. The second type of carbs is complex starchy carbs. This type of carbs is also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are linked together in a complex chain, our stomach needs time to break down those chains and during this process our body receives slow sustained energy. This type of carbs should be used in your nutrition (diet) program primarily. Examples: whole grain products like brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta, cereals (from whole flour). The third subgroup of carbs is complex fibrous carbohydrates. This type of carbs includes mostly vegetables, it’s a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are low in calories and are almost impossible to overeat. Each gram of carbs is equal to 4 calories.
The third group is fat. Fat also can be divided into a few subgroups. The first subgroup can be called unhealthy fat. Examples: saturated fat, trans fat, bacon fat etc. You should avoid this type of fat as much as possible. The second subgroup can be called high quality fat. Examples: fish fat, seeds, nuts, olive oil, corn etc. This type of fat contains essential vitamins like omega 3 and omega 6. Typical sources of protein such as fish, turkey, and dairy contain the amount of needed fat but if you mostly use protein shakes you can get the needed fat from nuts, seeds, fish oil etc. Each gram of fat equals 9 calories.
Use bodybuilding supplements
I agree that even with a relatively free schedule like mine it’s problematic to have meals every four hours. That’s why you should use bodybuilding supplements like protein shakes and weight gainer when it’s necessary. Most whey protein shakes are almost identical in their composition and you can buy whichever you find. The weight gainer situation is more difficult. Most of them contain huge amounts of maltodextrin, it’s a simple carb, you should consume such gainers only before or immediately after your workout. You should find a weight gainer that contains complex carbohydrates like oats and potatoes. With whey protein and weight gainer from complex carbohydrates, you can consume all of the required quantity of calories per day. It’s not the best way and you should have at least two normal meals per day, but if you can’t it will work too.
Should I consume more calories during steroid cycle?
If you are on the cycle, you’re trying to bulk or cut. In the case of bulking you definitely need to increase your caloric intake. Steroids improve assimilation, therefore you can use more calories during a cycle, and the more advanced the cycle the more calories you can consume profitably. In the case of cutting you should increase only protein consumption, this way you will protect all muscle tissue and still stay on caloric deficit to cut fat.
I hope this article will help people to create a nutrition (diet) plan for themselves despite their goals, and moreover to stick with this plan and get results. Try also to evaluate your results weekly, not only with a scale but also with a measuring tape. Don’t be afraid to implement small corrections into your plan if needed. Learn to enjoy the process every day and don’t expect overnight results.