If you’ve read some of our previous articles you’ve got the basics and now we’re into the really tricky stuff- your diet!
First thing to get into your mind is temporary diets do NOT work. You’ve heard of them all, the Atkins diet, the cabbage soup diet, the Dukan diet, the fat flush diet, the grapefruit diet… need I go on? If you’re looking to lose so water weight very quickly- then these diets are the way to go, but if you’re looking to lose real fat or to add muscle, carrying out these diets in the long run will not only lead to a massive diet fail and waste of time and money, but will also be extremely harmful for your health and wellbeing.
When it comes to organising a diet, many of us girls think it’s all about cutting the cals and feasting on lettuce, but this is probably the biggest misconception that currently burdens society.
You would’nt drive your car with no petrol would you?
So how can you expect to function without an adequate supply of fuel?!
You need to look at your fitness goals as a lifestyle change, or an adaptation which is going to happen over a long period of time. It’s unreasonable to expect to gain so much muscle or lose so much weight in a short time frame such as a week… it’s just not possible!
Instead, it’s almost about re-teaching your body how to metabolise the food you eat more efficiently, after all, your body doesn’t care if you want to lose weight or gain muscle, all your body cares about is surviving!
In our diet we should consume a variety of macro and micronutrients. There are three macronutrients, fat, carbohydrates and protein and many micronutrients including vitamins and minerals. Macronutrients are the main components of the diet, whereby here we can teach you the correct ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates to consume tailored to your specific body type.
But first things first, let’s consider how our body’s actually function, because the amount of progress you make will fundamentally depend on how many calories you consume Vs how many calories you burn, which is totally different for everyone depending primarily on your weight, muscle mass, height, growth rate, temperature and dietary intake. How many calories we require depends on our “total daily expenditure of energy” TDEE, which is a combination of BMR and physical activity level.
Your probably well aware of the term BMI, but BMR?
Your BMR is your basal metabolic rate and this is the rate at which your body uses energy when it is completely at rest, where your Basal metabolic requirement is the minimum amount of energy needed in order for your organs to function….
Basically, if you were in a coma or bedbound your BMR would be the energy and calories needed to survive! Many factors affect our BMR whereby everyone’s is unique, but one thing to note is that males and females have different BMR values due to the huge difference in hormones, whereby women tend to have more body fat than men. As a result men tend to burn more energy more easily, meaning… males and females have different energy requirements!
So how can we calculate our BMR?
Well, there’s no 100% accurate way to do so unless you’re willing to fork out some serious dollar and spend a lot of time in a lab! But we can make some estimation based on a little bit of maths!
But you’re going to need your height in cm’s and weight in Kg.
If you only know your weight in pound and height in inches, then you can convert height to centimetres by multiplying your height in inches by 2.54, and you can convert your weight from pounds to kilograms by multiplying it by 0.454.
Next, the calculation:
655 + (9.6 x weight in kg.) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)
For example, in my case:
BMR= 655 + (9.6 x 52Kg) + (1.8 x 155cm) – (4.7 x 22).
= 1329.8 Kcal.
So in order for my organs to function on a daily basis I require 1329.8 calories.
This is where the destructiveness of calorie controlled diets comes in… if your calorie intake is below your BMR, then your body panics due to being underfed and adapts to survive. This means usual metabolic processes that occur in the body during the digestion of food, are almost brought to a halt in order to store nutrients. Therefore even though you may have cut down your calorie intake, your body will burn energy a lot more slowly and want to increase the storage of fat. If starvation is prolonged, your body will start to breakdown muscle, organ tissue and even bone for energy, whereby the health effects can detrimental and seriously affect your future health.
Hopefully, this message is hitting home, we NEED to eat! Even to lose weight!
Now that you know exactly how much energy you need to do absolutely nothing all day, it’s time to calculate how many calories you need overall to fuel your fitness mission, which is going to be highly dependent on whether you are an endomorph, ectomorph or mesomorph (Find out here).
You may have seen on food labelling that women require 2000 calories a day. Well, it is important to know that this is a generalise average recommendation based on the whole populations weight, therefore as an individual the amount of calories you need to maintain your body weight will be different to this!
To get a generalised approximation of the amount of calories to maintain weight we can multiply our weight in kilograms by 33.
For example: 52kg x 33 = 1716 Kcals.
Therefore, generally 1716 calories would be needed to maintain a weight of 52kg. Now for tricky bit- calculating your calorie requirements and you’re ratio of macronutrients.
So if you’re an ectomorph your inherited genetics means that your generally termed as a “hard gainer”, struggling to gain weight due to an extra fast metabolism. Primarily, your goal is to gain weight, so you should increase your calorie consumption TDEE by around 500 kcals. But there is a lot more to this than just consuming more calories and eating more food. In order to ensure you gain weight in the form of lean muscle the sources of added calories is extremely significant, whereby stuffing your face with Mc Donald’s and junk food will do nothing but maybe add fat to your body… the opposite to what we want.
As an ectomorph your unique rate of metabolism means you quickly and efficiently burn carbohydrates and glucose as a main fuel. This means in your diet you require a high intake of carbohydrates whereby your calories should be split between the macronutrients as follows:
Mesmomorphs have been dealt a pretty good hand when it comes to genetics where generally they can build muscle and burn fat at a similar rate. Mesomorphs have more muscle and fat mass than ectomorphs and therefore require around 250 Kcals more than their calculated TDEE and a different macronutrient split of calories:
Insulin is the hormone that is released by the pancreas in response to sugar and carbohydrates, and is also known as the “fat storing hormone”. Endomorphs are not characterised as “fat”, endomorphs have a greater insulin sensitivity than ectomorphs and mesomorphs and as a result find it easy to gain mass as fat, but difficult to lose fat. However, the solution to this lies within the diet and training! If your an endomorph the secret to your diet will be limiting your amount of carbs, and unlike other body phenotypes you only require a calorie increase of up to around 100 Kcals above your calculated TDEE in the ratio:
Now that we’ve given you some guidance on how many calories and macronutrients you should be consuming, it’s time to give you a heads up on when you should be eating and some good sources of these macronutrients!
You may think that success is purely down to the calories we consume, however timing of meal consumption is a critical factor. Say goodbye to binging, constant grazing and 3 square meals a day, in order to control hunger and enhance your metabolism it is recommended that you consume around 6 – 8 small meals a day, eating every two to three hours, whereby scientific studies, including one by Bertelsen et al have shown higher meal frequencies can help control and reduce insulin levels in the body.
Not only this, but it is also suggested that two of these meals be pre and post workout meals, whereby studies, including one by Hawley and Burke (1997) have revealed that the timing and frequency of carbohydrate and meal intakes pre and post workout are crucial determinants for enhancing fuel availability and exercise capacity. So be sure you eat about 60 minutes before and after a workout. When splitting your macronutrient requirements throughout all your meals you may be wondering when the best time to consume the majority of your carbs is? Well the jury is still out on this, previously it’s been suggested that we can metabolise carbohydrates and control insulin levels more efficiently in the morning enhancing fat loss, however, there is now some evidence to suggest that consuming more carbohydrates at night can lead to greater fat loss. Therefore, it really depends on your personal preference, as long as you are: 1. Meeting your macronutrient requirements and 2.Getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates before and after your workout.
Personally, I would avoid consuming large quantities of carbohydrates late at night, decreasing carbohydrate consumption exponentially as the day goes on. This is simply because you don’t require as much energy at night, and it is a night time source of protein that will stop muscle breakdown as you sleep.
So there you have it, some top tips on how you can work out a diet plan to suit your body and your goals! But hold on! Don’t race away, there are a few more important aspects to remember.
First of all make sure you stay completely hydrated throughout the day! It’s recommended that an average person drinks around 8 glasses of water a day, however an increase in physical activity will probably increase your demand for the good stuff, so make sure you get enough water all day every day. That way you’ll not only stay hydrated with soft skin but drinking more will also help you feel fuller for longer!
A second point to remember is to beware of snacking and over eating! Having around 6 meals a day should mean you snack considerably less, however if you do chose to snack, make sure you do it wisely! You can check out some of the Myprotein snack range including our new Chox bar and protein bites, or you can head down to the zone to see some creative healthy recipes! As for other supplements…. don’t panic we’ve got you covered.
Bertelsen, J., Christiansen, C., Thomsen, C., Poulsen, P. L., Vestergaard, S., Steinov, A., … & Hermansen, K. (1993). Effect of meal frequency on blood glucose, insulin, and free fatty acids in NIDDM subjects. Diabetes Care, 16(1), 4-7.
Hawley, J. A., & Burke, L. M. (1997). Effect of meal frequency and timing on physical performance. British Journal of Nutrition, 77(S1), S91-S103.