When it comes to changing your physique, diet is king over exercise. You could be training for five hours per day but unless your diet is dialled in, you will not see the results you might hope for. To see just how important diet really is, check out the humorous video below.
But it is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to knowing what and how much to eat, and what not to eat. Below we will tell you how many calories to eat, what your macronutrient balance should be, and what types of foods are the best to eat.
The first step in constructing a healthy diet is to calculate the total number of calories you need to consume per day. You must first calculate your basal metabolic rate, which gives you a rough approximate of how many calories your body burns at rest. Use this website to enter your height, weight and age, which will estimate your BMR.
Factor in any additional calories you burn via exercise (you can find a calorie burning estimator here), and then adjust the total to suit your goals. To lose weight, you must reduce the total by around 500 calories per day. To gain weight, you need to be consuming at least 300 calories more than you are burning.
Your diet is based around three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat. You should aim for around 40 per cent of your total calories to come from carbohydrates, 30 per cent from protein and 30 per cent from fats. Keep in mind that one gram of protein yields four calories, as does one gram of carbohydrate, but one gram of fat yields nine calories.
Carbohydrate intake may vary depending on body type and individual goals. If muscle gain is your main goal, eat a higher percentage of carbohydrate, but if fat loss is your main goal eat a lower proportion of carbohydrates.
Choose wholegrain sources of carbohydrates and avoid processed sugary products. Good choices include brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, sweet potato and fruit. Protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, soy products, dairy, legumes, and dietary supplements. Good sources of dietary fat include oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.
To put this all into practice, consider the diet of a 40 year old man who wants to lose weight. He currently weighs 90 kilograms at a height of 6 foot. According to the BMR calculator, his BMR is approximately 1930 calories. He currently performs 45 minutes of weight training most days of the week, taking his average daily calorie burn to 2200.
Given that he would like to lose weight, he should remove 500 calories from the total, providing a daily caloric target of 1700. As he wants to lose weight, he will adjust his macronutrient balance to 40 per cent protein, 30 per cent carbohydrates and 30 per cent fat.
To work out the exact number of grams to consume of each macronutrient, divide 1700 by 40 per cent to get 680. This means that 680 calories must come from protein. As each gram of protein contains four calories, he must consume 170 grams of protein per day (680 divided by 4 is 170).
To calculate the total amount of carbohydrates, divide 1700 by 30 per cent. 510 divided by four equals 127.5 grams of carbohydrates.
For fat, divide 510 by nine (as fat contains more calories per gram) to end up with 56.7 grams of fat per day.
So he would consume 170 grams of protein, 127.5 grams of carbohydrates and 56.7 grams of fat per day, for a total of 1700 calories.
Now you know how many calories to eat, and how many of each type. Try dividing the totals into five, to account for five small meals per day. You will be on your way to achieving your physique goals!