Nutrition and Dieting Basics

The fundamentals for achieving your goal physique

Have you ever heard someone telling you that fitness is mostly about your diet and less about exercise?

That’s because it’s actually true…or close enough to it. According to many online sources and…my own personal experience (I talk more about that here), your nutrition matters way more than your training.

And if you would rather prefer to get straight to the point, press here.

How does that make sense?

Sometimes, you don’t need to watch a lot of videos, read a lot of studies or check many sources to understand the truth about something.

Just think about it!

For example: To lose 1lb of fat, you would need to achieve a 3,500 calorie deficit (since 1lb of fat is equal to 3,500 calories). Now, let’s take one of the most popular calorie burning activities – Running. Depending on your weight, running for 30min can burn between 300-400 calories.

So in order to lose 1lb, you would need to run for 30min 10 times per week, which is the equivalent to 5 hours of running per week.

However, if you were to modify your diet as to create a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories (= 3,500 calorie deficit in a week), you would lose 1lb WITHOUT running at all!

Basically, both approaches work. So the question remains: How is nutrition more important than exercise?

Certainly, eating at your maintenance calories while running 5 hours per week or eating 500 calories below your maintenance per week would yield the same 1lb of weight loss result.

However, a better approach would be to mix both approaches, and emphasise more on nutrition. In turn, this would allow you to avoid feeling like you are starving while also avoid you from feeling destroyed from exercising too much.

So rather than going for a 500 calorie deficit, you could aim for a 250 one. This would allow you to lower the amount of running you would have to do per week from 5 hours to just 2 and a half. Essentially, you would be able to stay active and healthy while still successfully losing weight.

Straight to the point – Diet 101

Here is where I will make your life easier, your diet better and turn your fat loss/muscle gain goals from dream into reality.

I should also clarify to you that this is a straight to the point guide and will therefore not go into in-depth details or discuss topics such as healthy VS non-healthy dieting. If you would like to know more specifics of dieting and nutrition, I’d highly recommend that you check out my other articles on such.

With that being said, let’s get into the basics!

Whether you choose to lose or gain weight through pure exercise, pure diet or a mix of both is ultimately up to you. The most important factor for achieving any kind of weight loss or muscle gain is that you are either in a calorie deficit or calorie surplus. For that, you will first need to calculate your maintenance calories (the number of calories that your body spend per day).

Calculating your maintenance calories and establishing calories needed to burn fat/gain muscle

The following calorie calculator can be used to find out your maintenance calories along with providing you with a table highlighting the calories that you would need to consume per day for your desired fat loss/muscle gain goals.

Nutrition

Now that you have calculated your calorie needs, you will need to think about the next most important point, which consists of the macronutrient (macros) aspect of your diet. In essence, macros are divided into three types, which are the protein, carbohydrate and fat content of the foods that you eat.

The easiest approach to dieting and macros you’ll ever find

There are a lot of arguments that could be made for and against what I am about to say but if you do follow my advice, I can guarantee that you WILL see results and more importantly, you WILL enjoy your diet without needing to do any kind of complex tasks and as little calculations as possible (some maths will always be needed to achieve a successful diet).

The easiest, most enjoyable approach to dieting that will definitely yield you results

The steps:

  • Establish whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle (you CANNOT do both at the same time and I discuss that here).
  • Use the online calorie calculator to find out many calories you would need per day to lose fat/gain muscle at the speed you feel most comfortable with. I personally recommend that you aim for 1 to 1.5lb fat loss/muscle gain per week so that you won’t lose too much muscle/gain too much fat too quickly.
  • Aim to eat protein (in grams) equal to your bodyweight in lbs. So if you weight 180 pounds, aim for around 180g of protein per day.
  • Aim for at least 30-40g of fat per day as less than that could bring a series of quite serious health problems.
  • Calculate and track the calories of what you eat either through weighting your food and writing down the calories+macros OR downloading a free calorie tracker such as MyFitnessPal on your phone or computer (I highly recommend the latter approach). Yes, you WILL have to do this for ANY diet if you actually want it to work. You see, losing or gaining weight is not an art or magic, it is a science, a mathematical calculation of calories in versus calories out that will result in a specific weight loss/weight gain per week.
  • Fill the rest of your missing calories with whatever foods you want as long as your diet meets the protein and fat macros stated above. Carbohydrates are not essential to the body (hence why diets such as Keto exist). However, not eating enough carbs or not eating the right ones could leave you feeling with less energy. Nonetheless, different people react differently to low/high carbs.

Diet example of losing weight while eating half a pizza and McDonalds a day

Let’s say that “John” is a 6’0 male, weights 200lbs, exercises 1-3 days per week and his goal is to lose weight. Throw all that into the precious calculator and you will find out that to lose 1lb/week, John would need to eat 2,120 calories per day.

Following the macros advice from earlier, John would need 200g of protein and 30-40g of fats per day. So now, by tracking his food and macros, he can quickly (less than 5 minutes) make a diet plan for the day, week and even months to come.

For Example:

Protein: 200g of raw skinless chicken breast is around 200 calories and 50g of protein.

Fats: 15g (1 Tbsp) of peanut butter is around 90 calories and 7g of fat

Therefore, the John from our example could eat 4 meals of 200g (which also equals 200g protein and 800 calories in total) of chicken and 5 Tbsp’s of peanut butter (=35g of fat and 450 calories in total) per day. However, that would only put him at 1,250 calories for the day. Given that his target for a 1lb weight loss per week is 2,120 calories, that means that he still has 870 calories left to eat WHATEVER he wants.

Yes, that means that John could literally eat half a pizza a day (usually around 500 calories but depends on the pizza) along with a medium pack of McDonalds french fries (around 370 calories) and he would STILL be losing weight.

Would it be healthy? Not so much. Would he see fat loss results? ABSOLUTELY.

You see, the bottom line is that YOU can design your diet however you want it to be and effectively diet as healthy or unhealthy as YOU would want to, but that choice is yours, and not mine to make.

Questions Time

“If anyone could eat half a pizza a day and still lose weight, how come most people do not diet like this?

Actually, a lot of people take on the approach that I have discussed earlier. It is often called the “If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)” approach. Nonetheless, even though it is possible to lose weight while eating junk food, such approach certainly possess drawbacks such as generally feeling worse (due to high salt and sugar intakes as well as sugar spikes), increased hunger (due to junk food being more calorie dense than healthy food, therefore being less filling, increased potential for binging (due to the increased hunger), and so on.

“It seems that such approach is not so good then. Why do you recommend it?

I am not recommending you to eat half a pizza a day. But most people think that dieting = eating only salad and chicken. Most people WILL DEFINITELY fail to follow such diets. What I am advising to you here is an extremely simple yet effective approach to losing weight or gain muscle while still being able to eat foods that you like. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be junk food…For example, rather than chicken, you could enjoy a roasted duck with some oven baked fries.

“Is working out necessary for losing or gaining weight?”

No! But exercising will certainly help you achieve a better look as it would support in mitigating muscle loss when dieting down and help with muscle gain when dieting up.

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