Last week, I put a lot of emphasis on the part of the equation that relates to training. This week, I am going to talk a bit about the eating part, as it’s just as if not at time even more important than the actual training.
There are a bunch of maxims that one can fall back on when it comes to talking about nutrition, how to do nutrition, and how best to maximize nutrition, but ultimately, here are the guidelines that I find the most helpful (and note, guidelines are just that, they mean nothing if an individual does not follow through on them):
First and foremost, it’s important to get a figure of your bodyfat percentage and overall weight. The reason for this is that it gives you a good clean idea as to what your actual lean body weight is. Let’s take me as I currently stand today. As of this writing, I stand at 220 pounds, and I’ve estimated that I am, approximately, 25% bodyfat (ugh, I hate having to say that, but yeah, let’s be frank and honest, it’s where I am actually at). That means that, distributed throughout my entire body, I am carrying roughly 55 pounds of fat. That’s both a lot and not a lot, to tell the truth. For a ultra trained athlete that’s really ripped, that would be huge. For an average everyday guy, that’s a little higher than normal but not alarmingly so, especially for one who’s gone through a bulk-up training phase. Thus, that means that, if I were to rip myself down to 0% bodyfat (an impossibility, but work with me anyway) I would have a lean body mass weight of 165 pounds.
Having determined that my lean body weight is 165 pounds, I can now start targeting my dietary goals. These have come from my own personal trial and error, so they are really only good for me, but they may work as a rough guide for others, too:
If I want to build muscle without going overboard on fat buildup, I need to meet my lean body weight multiplied by 19 for a daily caloric intake.
If I want to maintain muscle, I need to meet my lean body weight multiplied by 15 for a daily caloric intake.
If I want to lose fat with a minimal amount of muscle loss, I need to meet my lean body weight multiplied by 11. Any lower than that, and I start to catabolize muscle.
Taking the above examples, that puts me at 1700 calories per day to rip down, 2500 calories per day to stay put, and roughly 3200 calories per day to go to town and build mass without adding too much fat.
Once I have the caloric goals, I can then play my percentages game. I believe strongly in an inverted Zone diet, where 40% of calories come from protein, 30% comes from carbohydrates, and the remaining 30% comes from fats. I’m not slavishly devoted to those ratios, but I do try to aim for them. To that end, I do my best to make sure that the 40% protein, more specifically, at least includes 1 gram of protein per lean pound of bodyweight per day. That means 165 grams of protein intake every day at the minimum.
If I were to use the 1700 calorie value and 40% protein was literally 165 grams, 130 grams would be 30% carbs and 58 grams would give me my ratio for 30% for fats. Calculate the same percentages with the other values and you get the ratios and the numbers needed for both the maintenance and gaining stages.
So yeah, that’s all well and good, but what would one eat to make those values regularly? For starters, lean cuts of meat such as lean beef, pork, chicken, turkey and fish are a great lace to start. IF you aren’t a big fan of meat, milk and egg proteins are also good sources (perhaps easy on the quantity of eggs, but a few times a week doesn’t cause me any issues at this stage). Leafy green vegetables, beans, corn, squash (the three sisters of Native American tradition), items that have good sources of complex carbs, whole pieces of fruit where possible, natural peanut butter, saltwater fish, whole grains wherever possible, and an emphasis on eating things raw, whole and unprocessed whenever possible. Add to that approximately ½ to ¾ gallons of water each day and we are good to go :).
At the end of the day, though, the thing that helps me the most to get my diet in shape and stay on track is a pen and a piece of paper. It’s amazing what can happen when you make a conscientious effort to write down every morsel that passes through your lips and teeth. Many times, just having to say “wait, let me get out my flip pad so I can write that down” is enough for me to say “ehh, I’ll skip that one, thanks”. Thus proof, as my title says, that putting things in writing can probably do more to bolster will power than just about anything else one can think of… and yes, the pen proves mightier than the mouth (LOL!).