One of the most important parts when starting any task whether it is dieting, making costumes, or just any task in life is to make sure you have a solid plan to execute. Without a good plan, you will constantly be left guessing on what to do next which I feel can be a huge waste of time as well as very discouraging. In this post, I will go over how I eased my way into solid nutrition plan.
1) Determine how many calories you need per day (maintenance calories)
I previously provided this page as a place to start to determine your baseline starting point. I suggest working out 3x a week, an hour each session for most people out there (people who just want to be in better shape and are not competitive athletes) so go ahead and use that drop down. In putting my stats, I get the following:
I have been watching what I eat for a while, so I know this number is fairly accurate for my activity level. An important thing to note is that this is ONLY AN ESTIMATE. Everyone’s bodies respond differently but I would say this is accurate plus or minus 200 calories. Now take this number and multiply it by 7 to get your maintenance calorie intake for the week and let’s call this variable “M”. For me in this example, M= 15540 calories.
2) Modify daily caloric estimate to achieve fitness goal
Now you have an estimate of how many calories you need to maintain your body weight, adjust this number depending on your goals. Want to maintain your weight? No changes need. Fat loss your goal? Subtract 20% of the calories. Your new intake for the week will be M*.80. Want to put on some weight and muscle? Increase calories by 20% (so M * 1.2).
So if my goal is fatloss, it would be:
Fat loss caloric intake = 15540 * .8 = 12432
Take this number and divide it by 7 to get what you average daily caloric intake should be around to achieve your fitness goal.
Fatloss daily intake = 12432/7 = 1776 calories per day.
3) Determine what meals/food you will eat
Now that you know your target calories, plan what you will eat on a daily basis. I will go into more detail in a future post, but these are some of the foods I eat on a daily basis:
- about 1 lbs of grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts
- about a 1lb of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)
- egg whites
- almond milk
- brown rice (only on workout days)
- banana (only on workout days)
Determine the amount of calories and their macronutrient breakdown (grams of protein, carbs, and fat) of your staple foods and get your calories to add up to your target calories for each day. Fitday is a good website to do this and signing up is free (I am not affiliated with fitday in any way. I just found their site convenient when I used to use it). If your up to task, you can make an excel spreadsheet like me with all the types of food you eat:
4) Plan your daily meals
This is going to take some manipulation, but try to stick with mostly protein, with a moderate level of carbs, and moderate fat. I personally carb cycle, which means days I don’t work out I keep carbs low. On days I do work out, I eat quit a bit of carbs. On average, my calories are about 50% protein, 30% carbs, and 20% fat. Again, Fitday is good way to track this, or make your own excel spreadsheet. Remember, your goal is to for your calories across the week to average to the number you calculated on step. I recommend eat above your average calories on workout days, and eat below your average on non-workout days.
With this information, establishing a plan for a new diet should be fairly simple. The next step will be having the will and determination to execute your new plan. Next diet post, I will go over how to make quick, easy, and healthy meals for those who dislike cooking and don’t want to spend the time every day spending hours preparing meals.