4 Step Guide to the Perfect Diet
It’s getting to that time of the year again, you have booked your summer holiday and suddenly realised that you have 6 weeks to get beach ready and find some abs!
I’m going to break everything down in this article into simple, easy to follow steps. By the end of this article you will know
- How many calories you should start your diet on, and
- The correct breakdown of protein, carbs and fats to have.
Getting lean doesn’t need to involve cutting all of the carbs out of your diet and it doesn’t mean you have to drop your calories to 500kcals per day and starve yourself! There is another way, and this is what the 4 simple steps below explain:
STEP 1: Working out how many calories you need
There are a couple of factors which will affect the start point for your diet;
- Your daily activity level e.g. do you sit behind a desk all day or do manual labour all day.
- Training frequency and training intensity e.g. if you train once per week or train 6 days per week lifting intense.
As a start point for the calories you will need to start dieting on, take your bodyweight in lbs. X 12-14 as a general rule.
There will be exceptions to this rule, there will be individuals who are able to diet eating 15-16 times their bodyweight in kcals. These individuals are likely to carry a large amount of lean muscle. On the other side of the scale too, there will be competitors who drop as low as 10-11 x their bodyweight during a diet for a competition but this should be only for a short period of time and is not sustainable.
Starting your diet somewhere between 12-14 X your bodyweight in lbs will work for the majority of clients.
So lets use an example of client Sam, who weights 180lbs:
- 180 X 12 = 2,160 Kcals
- 180 X 14 = 2,520Kcals
Start your diet on x 12 – if you would class yourself as fairly sedentary and train 1-3 times per week
Start your diet on x 14 – if you’re highly active and train hard 4-6 times per week in the gym
Start your diet on x 13 – if you would class yourself as somewhere in between
It is important to note that you won’t speed up the process of getting lean, or reach your goal any quicker by choosing a lower kcal range. If anything it can have a detrimental effect on your physique. If you start your kcals too low to start with you can drop too much weight too quickly and end up loosing muscle as well. One of the number one rules with dieting is to take it slow and always try and hold onto as much muscle as you can in the process.
When dieting I would always tell clients to aim for an average weight loss of 1-2 lbs. per week
STEP 2: Work out how much protein you need
Your protein intake should be around 1-1.2g per lb. of bodyweight.
So using the example of client Sam again, who is 180lbs:
- 180 X 1 = 180g
- 180 X 1.2 = 216g
I would start on 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight if you would class yourself as fairly sedentary and lifting weight 2-3 times per week, but would increase to 1.2g if you are highly active and lifting 4-6 times a week.
I will give an example diet plan at the end of this article so you can see some of the types of protein sources I recommend.
STEP 3: Next comes the Fat
Dietary fat is essential in the diet and is probably the most misunderstood food group. Your fat intake needs to be correct in order to support the function of hormones, mainly testosterone. Dietary fat also plays a role in keeping your hair, skin and nails healthy.
Now you know your Calorie intake from step 1, I recommend that 25% of your daily calories come from fat.
So, if you’re eating 2,520 kcals - 25% = 630 kcals.
You then need to divide 630 / 9 (as there are 9 kcals in every 1gram of fat) = 70g fat.
*Note: This 25% figure could be adjusted, so if you are a “carb lover” as many people are, you may want to lower the fat intake to 20% (but I wouldn’t recommend any lower than that). Lowering your fat intake to 20% will allow you to eat more carbohydrates and still hit your daily kcal goals.
STEP 4: Fill in the missing Kcals with carbs
Keeping with the example of Sam who weights 180lbs;
- Total Kcals: 180 x 14 = 2,520 kcals
- Protein: 180 x 1.2g = 216g of protein x 4 = 864 kcals (Because there are 4 kcals in every 1gram of protein)
- Fat: 25% of total kcals - 2520/25 = 630 kcals / 9 (Because there are 9 kcals in every 1gram of fat) = 70g of Fat
Now you fill in the gap with carbs:
- 864kcals (protein) + 630kcals (fat) = 1,494 kcals
- 2,520kcals – 1,494kcals = 1,026kcals remaining
- 1,026kcals / 4 (Because there are 4kcals in every 1 gram of carbohydrate) = 257g of carbs
Sam’s Final Macro’s for his 2,520kcal cutting diet:
- Protein - 216g
- Carbs - 257g
- Fat - 70g
An example 2500kcal Diet Plan for Sam:
- Breakfast: 80g Quaker Oats, 30g whey protein, x1 tbsp. peanut butter (all mixed together with water)
- Meal 2: 150g chicken breast, 300g sweet potato, 150g green veggies, x1 tbsp., Olive oil on top of veggies
- Meal 3: 150g cod fillet, 50g (uncooked weight) White Rice, ½ medium avocado
- GYM: 30g whey protein & 5g Creatine Monohydrate post-workout
- Meal 4: 200g lean beef mince, vegetable stir-fry, 300g sweet potato
- Meal 5: 30g casein protein mixed with water and x1 packet of Snack a Jacks
I hope this article has helped to make nutrition and macronutrients simpler for you.
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