The word “diet” in its own right is the problem with a diet. The vast majority of people who go “on a diet” put all the fat that they lost straight back on the moment they come off the diet.
A healthy lifestyle on the other hand, is far more beneficial in the long run. It also means having a “life” and often “dieting” means avoiding your favourite foods and social occasions that may involve having a burger and a beer. Cutting out all the foods you enjoy is not sustainable and it is hard to stay motivated if you don’t enjoy the journey.
The main principles behind the majority of diets use the equation of calories in against calories out. So, if you are consuming less calories than you are using, you will create a calorie deficit and consequently will lose weight (however may not be just fat). If you eat more than you burn, then you will put weight on.
What are Your Goals?
Therefore, if your goal is to increase muscle mass then you need to eat enough calories to provide your body with the energy and nutrients needed to grow. However, if you consume too much then the excess calories are likely to be stored as fat.
to increase muscle mass then you need to eat enough calories
Nonetheless, counting calories is only the first step and people should try to eat more nutritious food that will help you feel full for longer. This will also increase the number of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) your body is receiving helping it to perform optimally.
You can Still eat Your Favorite Foods
Therefore, if you enjoy having a pizza then eat a pizza, but just make sure that it fits within your daily or weekly calorie limits. But how many calories should you be consuming?
Well it is important to do a couple of simple calculations to find your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR) and the Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
How to calculate your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR)
The BMR is the number of calories you need to maintain your current condition without any exercise or digestion. One quick and easy method of calculating your BMR is to multiply your Body Weight (lbs) by x10.
Therefore if you weigh 190lbs your BMR is 190 x 10 = 1900Kcal.
How to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
This calculation considers all other energy expenditure such as working, exercise and digestion.
It is simple to calculate your TDEE as all you do is multiply your BMR by a factor which represents your activity level during a typical day.
Sedentary – Little or no exercise = BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active – Light exercise = BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active – Moderate exercise = BMR x 1.55
Very Active – Hard exercise = BMR x 1.725
Extra Active – Very hard exercise and physical job = BMR x 1.9
So from the previous BMR if the person was “Extra Active” the calculation would be: 1900 x 1.9 = 3610Kcal. Therefore, it would take 3610Kcal to maintain the current condition.
Now it is important to know what your goal is. If you are looking to lose weight, then you would be looking to reduce the calorie intake by about between 200-500Kcal a day. If your goal is to gain weight, then you would need to add at least 200Kcal a day. To see if this is the correct number of calories for you, consume this number of calories for a week or two and monitor you progress in the mirror to see how your body reacts.
If there doesn’t appear to be an increase in body fat then I would add another 200 kcal and so on until I find the sweet spot for gaining muscle without gaining fat. Once I find that I am possibly adding a bit of fat, I would simply reduce the calories back to the previous level and carry on at that level.
Working Out Your Macros
This next stage is a little bit more difficult as everyone is different but there are rough guidelines that are generally accepted. These are:
Protein – 0.8 – 1.5g per pound of body weight
Fat – 20 – 50% of total calories
Carbohydrates – The remainder of calories
If you are just starting out, then we would highly recommend using an app to help you track your calories until you feel comfortable. My Fitness Pal is a great tool as it is quick and easy to enter foods and also displays the macro/ micronutrients of your foods.
Flexible Dieting doesn’t mean you can just fill yourself with junk food but it does allow the flexibility to help keep you sane while trying to achieve your fitness goals whatever they may be.
When you are first starting out don’t change your entire lifestyle all in one go. If you do feel the need for cheat meals, try and keep them to after your workouts to make use of the extra calories to help with recovery.