How to Get Started
Our first objective is to find your metabolic rate, the amount of calories you need in order to maintain your current body weight. There are dozens of ways to figure this out, including calculators that will use a mixture of algorithms. Although many of them can be accurate, a person’s metabolic rate can be as individual as their fingerprints.
In my own training and dieting experience, as well as the training and nutrition guidelines I’ve set up for my clients, I use the following three tactics to figure out their basic caloric needs.
Tactic One: The Basic Formula
This is the simplest of the formulas to put together and the one I use in my Beginner Gym and Diet Program. All it takes is basic math skills or a calculator. Get a piece of paper to write on and follow the steps in order and you’ll have your full calorie and macronutrient breakdown by the end.
The Three Numbers:
Now, I will show you how to find your exact numbers through these 5 easy steps...
Step 1: Find your body fat Percentage
Find your Bodyfat Percentage using this chart…
Step 2: Find Your Calorie Intake
Using your bodyfat percentage, we will now be able to find the amount of calories you should consume per day!
If your bodyfat percentage is 40% or above take your bodyweight and multiply it by 9.
If your bodyfat percentage is 30% or above (below 40%) take your bodyweight and multiply it by 10.
If your bodyfat percentage is 20% or above (below 30%) take your bodyweight and multiply it by 11.
If your bodyfat percentage is 15% or above (below 20%) take your bodyweight and multiply it by 12.
For Example: If you weigh 200lbs and have a body fat percentage of 35% -
200 x 10 = 2000 calories
Step 3: Find your Protein
A person who trains hard and wants to get the most progress with their training and diet should consume 1 gram of protein per 1lb of lean muscle mass to 1 gram of protein per 1lb of bodyweight.
To find the amount of protein you need to eat per day, Take your body fat percentage and subtract that amount of weight from your weight (in pounds.)
Example: 200lb male at 25% body fat.
200 x .20 = 40
200 - 40 = 160
160 is the base amount of protein in grams this person should eat per day! Making their protein goals 160-200 grams per day.
Step 4: Get in Your Fiber
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) recommends that you get 20-35 grams of fiber every day, or approximately 10-14 grams per 1000 calories consumed, 10 being for those who are sedentary and 14 for those who are very active and exercise frequently.
However, if you’re currently consuming little to no fiber, I recommend that you slowly start introducing fiber into your diet at the rate of 1 or 2 more grams a day until your body has adjusted, otherwise you’ll feel bloated, lethargic and constipated.
Step 5: Putting it Together!!!
Let’s make sure that we got all three numbers in line!
Example 200lb male at 20% body fat eats every day:
Protein: 160-200 grams
Fiber 25 Grams
Within these guidelines you have a great deal of flexibility with the food choices in your diet! To learn more about flexible dieting and how to fit in foods that you love to eat and still see great results in your physique changes, make sure you check out my manual on flexible dieting (coming soon.)
Tactic Two: The Online Formula
Some of you won’t feel like doing all of that math, nor do you trust your ability to calculate things. Perfectly understandable. So, I’ve provided you a link to an online calculator that I like and trust.
For this calculator you will need to know the following things:
-Body Fat Percentage (you can use the chart I use above)
-How much physical activity you do (on average.)
Here is the link: IIFYM Calculator.com
Tactic Three: Track What you Do Now and Go From There
Step One: Download a calorie counter onto your phone or use an online source (myfitnesspal.com for the phone app and online database.)
Step Two: Track EVERYTHING you eat
Step Three: Track your weight every day
Step Four: Calculate your Averages
If the scale number consistently moved up, down, or fluctuated around the same numbers, you know about where your maintenance calories are, so you’re now capable of manipulating your calories to fit your goals (lose or gain weight.) Just go to Tactic One and follow Steps 3 through 5 to find your Protein and Fiber requirements!
Which do you prefer? Carbs or Fats?
“I’m not sure...I like both!”
This is the part of flexible dieting that is often combed over because many people (including myself) like to use flexible dieting with a very traditional bodybuilding style template. Meaning High Protein, High Fiber, Moderate Carb, Lower Fat.
Our bodies prefer to use carbohydrates as energy as it is the most simple to convert to muscle, brain and liver glycogen. Carbohydrates are a very powerful tool. When used correctly, carbohydrates can actually improve your gym performance, increase your energy during your cardio, and effectively improve your composition and help you obtain your goals in an expedited fashion. This is why I generally recommend people restrict their dietary fat intake and focus on increasing the amount of carbohydrates they consume on the days they weight train.
However, our palate does not always prefer carbohydrates when presented with a big, fatty ribeye is right in front of us, or waiting for you at a restaurant after a long day. And lucky for us, our bodies are resourceful and can convert protein into glucose and utilize fat as an energy source. Is it as “efficient” or “optimal?” Not in my opinion. But, if it’s the difference between you jumping off of your diet or simply rearranging your macro nutrients for that day to stay within your calories, the choice seems obvious. Especially considering that you’ll see little to no difference in your body composition.
So think of it as a sliding scale...
Higher Carb Days = Less Fat
Higher Fat days = Less Carbs
High Carb Example: Your friends want to go out to breakfast this morning. You’re craving pancakes and you don’t like sugar free syrup. Sounds good! Get some pancakes, have some syrup. But, don’t get a slice of bacon or sausage or a plate of whole eggs to go with it. If you want some protein, get a big ol’ plate of egg whites with some peppers and onions.
High Fat Example: Same breakfast morning, except this time you want a big omelette with ham, cheese and bacon. Cool story, bro. Forgo the pancakes, toast, and hash browns. Maybe even skip the ketchup and put on some hot sauce. Viola! High protein, high fat, low carb breakfast.
An important fact should be stated here: There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Your body can utilize protein as glucose via gluconeogenesis and utilize fat as an energy source. This is why a person can hop on a low carb, ketogenic style diet and not die. However, your body NEEDS dietary fats for vitamin absorption and hormone regulation along with a cornucopia of other basic health requirements. For this reason I strongly recommend not to go below a baseline amount of daily dietary fat and to pull calories away from your carbohydrates primarily when trying to lose weight.
Daily Fat Recommendations:
Men - 50 grams or Higher
Women - 40 grams or Higher