Let us talk nutrition. You will learn how to make your own personalized eating schedules after this article.
A strong and good looking body requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but also good food (unless you are genetically gifted which most people are not).
In the last 3years I have coached around a dozen people who all wanted to loose weight and gain muscle. For all these people I designed eating schedules tailored to their needs, lifestyle and goals.
Most of them look ewally great today, because they continued to follow my advice.
Unfortunately not all of my clients had success long term – some were just too weak mentally speaking to cope with the changes and they sabotaged themselves in the end.
They still believe its ‘normal’ to eat pizza when watching a good movie just to give you an example.
People are so spoiled when it comes to food – let us get one thing straight here:
You are the only one, who decide what you eat.
Why a proper meal plan is essential
If you like going to the gym like me, than you probably know that nutrition is key to building a powerful physique. Whey protein, BCAA’s, and creatine do not help you much if your nutrition is off.a
All you get is an empty wallet and lack of results.
Guys who want to really get rid of some fat need to pay close attention to what they eat. The same goes for guys who want to ‘bulk’. Let’s get one thing straight: bulking does not mean eating whatever you want.
All those stories of guys gaining 40lbs of muscle in 3 months are shady Unless they are juicing, they just gained a lot of fat and water. I call this shady bulking.
Shady bulkers generally lose all their lean mass as soon as they start cutting.
This is because they need to lose an insane amount of fat which means that they will be in a constant caloric deficit which is per definition a catabolic state (state where muscle is broken down for energy).
So tmaybe that look of a shady bulker seem impressive for the untrained eye, but dirty bulking and insane gains (often highly correlated) are not the way to go long term.
Instead, go for what they call a ‘clean bulk’- where you optimize muscle gains and minimize fat gains.
Guys reading this this who are slowly turning into dedicated gym-go-ers: You will not gain even one pound of muscle if your nutrition is off.
Want to get ripped? Then optimize your nutrition.
Want to build muscle? Then optimize your nutrition.
You can not control your genetics so do not even spend one second complaining about your parents having passed on these genes to you.
The good news is that you can control what you eat. And thus you control an important variable when it comes to getting in shape and feeling energized every day.
Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats
Food is energy which the body needs to survive and keep everything just as it is (called homeostasis). It is pretty simple. You eat stuff, and what you eat and digest provides your body energy and nutrients to carry out various tasks.
We use calories to measure the energy food gives us.
If you ask 100 people on the street what a calorie is nobody can really give you a clear answer.
“A calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1gram of water by 1°C.” Which is a difficult way of saying that calories are way to measure energy.
Proteins, carbs, fats, and alcohol are all what we call macro food categorizations that provide us a certain number of calories (energy):
Each type has its own fixed amount of calories per gram:
Protein: 4 calories per 1 gram.
Carbohydrate:s 4 calories per 1 gram.
Fats: 9 calories per 1 gram.
Alcohol: 7 calories per 1 gram.
For all food types variation is key, with the exception of alcohol of course.
Let me explain why that is.
Protein consists of approximately 20 amino acids out of which 8 the body can not produce on its own. Thus it is important you eat products that will give your body the remaining 8 essential amino acids by eating a wide variety of protein sources.
Good Protein Sources are:
Carbs can be divided into two categories: simple and complex. Generally speaking, simple carbs are categorized as ‘bad’ (e.g. muffins) and complex carbs are labeled as ‘good’ (e.g. oatmeal).
Carbs are mostly found be in grain products, drinks, fruits, and vegetables.
One thing to keep in mind is the following:
Carbs raise blood sugar (glucose) levels in your body.
The amount of glucose in the body is regulated via a hormone called insulin- if insulin is absent our body uses fat (stored energy) as fuel.
Unfortunately, insulin levels are raised pretty much every time we eat anything – which is why some people decide to work out on an empty stomach I guess.
Nonetheless, you can limit insulin spikes (and unwanted fat gains) by not eating simple carbs (with the exception of maybe a pre-workout snack).
Glucose and insulin levels increase after every meal and raises higher with sugary foods when compared to starchy, nutrient dense foods
Foods that raise glucose levels dramatically have a high GI (glycemix index rating) and are generally not your best choice.
Good Carb Sources
Whole grain pastas & bread.
There are 3 types of fat: trans, saturated and unsaturated fats. Generally speaking, we want to stay away from trans-fats and eat a good amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
We will want to limit but not completely eliminate saturated fats.
This is because two fat enzymes can not be produced by the body (similar to the essential amino acids). We call these omega 3 and 6 aka essential fatty acids (EFAs).
Whether you are trying to build muscle or loose fat, it is important to always eat a decent amount of ‘good’ fats because these are essential for the body to work properly.
By the way, fish oil has been backed up by science in terms of effect. It is legit so I will recommend getting some fish oil/cod liver oil tabs.
Good fat sources
Fish oils/Cod liver oil.
Nuts & Seeds.
This is pretty much the food pyramid i follow these days:
Creating a Meal plan
Now you know the basics we can get started
First ask yourself though: are you looking to build muscle or loose fat?
If you want to build muscle you need to be in a caloric surplus.
If you want to loose fat you need to be in a caloric deficit.
Just keep in mind that your body is like your bank account.
If you eat more than you burn (you save more money than you spent), you gain muscle (if your dies is good) or fat (if your diet is bad).
If you eat less than your body burns for energy (you spent more than you are saving) than you are burning fat (if your diet is good) or muscle mass (if your diet is bad).
All right I am sure you got that – let us move on.
I will give you 7 steps you can follow to make your own eating schedule emmediatly after reading this.
1. Determine your overall required caloric intake.
We usually do this by filling in one of the formulas (e.g. the Harris-Benedict Formula).
Luckily everything is automated nowadays: I usually use the free Calorie Calculator for this. If you know your bodyfat percentage then go to Advanced Settings, and select the Katch-McCardle formula (it is more accurate).
Generally add 15 % to maintenance level.
For cutting generally start by lowering maintenance level with 20 %.
We now multiply the maintenance level intake with 1.15 (15% increase) to get a good idea of what your caloric intake should be if we would want to build muscle and keep fat gains to an absolutely minimum.
Note: this requires time to fine-tune. You need to keep an eye on your gains to scale your overall amount of calories up or down (if you do not gain any weight) or down (if you gain too much around the waist area).
Now you will want to determine your macro ratios.
As said before, there are three macro categorizations and we will need to distribute these intelligently to get to the total amount of calories required.
There are numerous ways to distribute your macros. There are some general ratios that will work for most people though:
Macro ratios for building muscle
Note that CPF here refers to Carbs, Protein, Fat. A ratio of 30/40/30 for example, would mean 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat.
High carbs, moderate in protein and fat.
High in carbs, and protein, moderate in fat.
Moderate in carbs, high in protein and fat.
Macro ratios for loosing fat
Anyone can loose weight, but when you want to loose fat you generally want to keep as much muscle mass as you possibly can. And that means that you can not delete all carbs because those are necessary to prevent muscle loss.
Low in carbs, very high in protein, high in fat.
Very low in carbs, very high in protein, high in fat.
Low in carbs, high in PROTEIN, high in fat.
2. Calculate the exact number of calories for each category.
A word of grams of protein per lbs/kg
Generally we want to get around 0,5-1gr of protein per lb (1-2gr per kg). Keep in mind that 20% of calories consumed from protein are burned during the digestion process itself – this is called the thermogenic effect.
Now decide on the number of meals you would like to eat.
For example, if we want to have 6 meals a day we will divide the total amount of grams by 6 to get a ballpark on what each meal should consist of.
3. Select foods based on your lifestyle
Most diets fail because people consider them as a temporary thing. This is often because they follow diets that do not suit their lifestyle and just can not be executed for months or even years.
An example of this is a ‘fruit’ diet where people only eat fruits. Nobody can have appetite for fruits all the rime and would not be able to keep that up forever.
Creating a balanced eating schedule means you select products based on your preferences and lifestyle:
Go for easy & quick meals if you are often on the road.
Go for low budget options if you have to keep an eye on your money.
Go for products you enjoy eating.
Go for products that are easy to get.
Go for meals & products that you can easily make (if you do not have a lot of time).
It sounds obvious, but most people forget this.
A lot of my clients were so grateful for my help, because I took a look at their lifestyle and took that into account. Someone who is short on money should not be having steak dinners in their plan.
I know but so many personal tainers out there completely ignore this fact. Not to mention they prescribe all kinds of ingredients and herbs nobody wants to buy.
Seriously, who is going to the local market, buy fresh lobster, then go to China town to get special ginger root and other herbs. I do not know people like tha t- do you?
4. Make a list of foods you want to use.
Try to create a list of foods you would like to be on there. If you are a nutritional freak like me you will want to get the most ‘bang for your dollar’ – so you go for the recommended products listed above.
Of course there is room for variety, but if you are serious about getting in shape I would not deviate too much from the recommended clean products.
5. Combine products & think about the practicality of the meal.
Broccoli, steak, and sweet potatoes make sense. Broccoli, yoghurt, and a banana do not. Go for meal combinations that somewhat resemble what you used to eat.
For most semi-healthy guys that will mean:
A warm meal with some carbs, proteins, and fats, Or a cold meal (or drink) with some carbs, proteins and fats.
An example of a great warm meal:
Whole grain pasta with tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and chicken.
An example of a good cold meal:
Yoghurt, banana, and muesli.
An EXAMPLE of a good cold drink based meal:
Quark, oats, frozen raspberries and avocadoes and blend it.
In addition, select one core ingredient for each meal. This can be a carb or a protein source (e.g. you go for T-bone steak as a core ingredient in one meal). You will use this core ingredient to build your meal around.
6. Use an online nutritional value tool and create meals.
Start using some nutritional databases to start with calculating the exact amount you need to eat for each product in each meal.
I recommend these:
Okay so now we start to create some meals.
First off, we want to determine what type of meal we want to create: cold or warm, fluid or solid? In this case we want to create the first meal of the day: breakfast.
Because we like eggs, we’re gonna stick with that and build a good meal around this core ingredient.
Because we will want to consume the largest meal in the morning we will go a for that
When gathering items we look at four things:
Total amount of calories for the desired serving.
Total amount of carbs.
Total amount of Proteins.
Total amount of fats.
Do not worry about calcium, sodium, and vitamins for now.
We decide to go for eggs – scrambled (because scrambles eggs are awesome).
Now we know we are not gonna eat these eggs with yoghurt but bread. So the next item will be bread-whole wheat that is.
Because we are making scrambled eggs and thus eat the yolk too we will get plenty of fats so we will not add more fat. What we can add though, is something to drink, preferably something with some dairy fat in it. Milk seems logical to combine with eggs & toast.
We decide to go for nonfat milk.
Awesome! We got 3 items and can have a complete meal. We now add everything together. I personally always use Excell for this stuff:
Now have the recommended caloric intake from the weight gain calculator or fat loss calculator in mind.
You have your daily caloric intake number, and you should now divide that with the number of meals you want to each each day.
So let us say, that we are going to eat 6 times a day – then adjust the breakfast meal by dividing your total caloric intake by 6. You will find out the amount of eggs, bread and milk by using one of the nutrtional databases i recommended above. Remember to aim for your desireed macro ratios, that is suited for your goal
Now we continue doing this for the remaining meals until we hit our desired totals.
Experiment & fine-tune as you go
When just starting out it will be difficult to make a schedule that matches your target ratios, lifestyle, and caloric intake.
Do not worry – this is normal. Everyone will need to experiment with certain meal combinations and fine-tune them as they go. Maybe you discovered that 500 grams of rice is a too overwhelming to eat in 1 go for example – so you adjust it accordingly – keeping in your target ratios in mind.
As you spend more and more time creating a custom meal plan you will get a sense and feeling for food. That means that in the near future, you can instantly look at a plate of food, and do a rough yet accurate estimate of the nutritional value the plate of food contains.
Questions? Do not hesitate to post them in the comment section below
I can totally understand this all is a bit overwhelming at first so if you have any questions, let me know – I am here to help. Also, if you liked this article, shareit with your friends.