Yes, it's another nutrition related article. The target audience is those of you who've started working out recently, your working out 3 times a week, maybe you're even starting to look a bit leaner, a little tighter, and that's great. But now its time to start fine-tuning your diet (the term used to describe food intake). To continue getting leaner and tighter, you're going to have to start putting together your own lean healthy meals.
When working with clients, I naturally like to discuss their diet; again, the term "diet" refers to food intake, NOT calorie restriction. We discuss caloric intake, and what percentage of the macronutrients protein, carbohydrates, and fats, should make up their total caloric intake. We generally start out with a core plan of 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% percent from protein, and 20% from fat.
So, if I were state, "get 50% of your calories everyday from carbohydrates" - perhaps you would look at me like, "what the h*ll does that mean". You would be right. How does one know what 50% of their total caloric intake is? Well, I hope to be able to teach you how to figure your carb, protein, and fat intake by adding grams first, then, teach you how to calculate those percentages using your total caloric intake.
Week One: Total Caloric Intake
Let's just take this one step at a time - perhaps one week at a time. Start out by focusing on your total
caloric intake for the first week. Keep a food "diary". Yes, it's a little bit of work, but, you won't have to do it forever. MOST diets shouldn't go below 1200 calories/day. 1200 calories is the MINIMUM almost any of us should be consuming. Even someone lying in a coma in the hospital would be give at least 1200 calories of nutrition! I generally recommend between 1400-1600 calories. Athletes should consult with a nutritionist.
So, read food labels for calorie intake, buy a basic calorie counter if you need to. Watch food portions- 3 oz of protein (generally) would be the size of a deck of cards for chicken, fish, and/or beef.
Try physically measuring out serving sizes - measure out 1½ cup and full cup servings, put them on the plates you would normally be eating from. This gives you a visual of that serving size, this can be especially helpful when you're eating out.
Week Two: Protein Intake
Week two, we focus on your protein intake. Many of us won't be getting the amount of protein we should. The average person requires about his or her own body weight (in grams) of protein, just to survive. For example, a 150 pound female would need a minimum of 75 grams of protein For someone who exercise or has
stress in their life (who doesn't), add another 20-25 grams. Again, athletes are special cases.
Let's calculate your protein intake, by adding grams first. Once you've done that, we can calculate your protein percentage by using your total caloric intake for the day.
Week Three: Carbohydrate Intake
Week three, we focus on
carbohydrate intake. This is one of the biggest pitfalls for most women. No fat, low fat, high carbohydrate "diets" has been the mainstay for many years. So, continuing to read food labels, you can calculate carbohydrates by adding the grams for the day. We will use the same formula for carbohydrates as we used for protein, since both foods have 4 calories per gram.
Let's say that your goal is to consume 60% of your calories for the day in the form of carbohydrates, and you're following a 1600 calorie a day diet plan: Multiply 1600 by .60 (for 60%), which equals 880, divide by 4 (for calories per gram), which equals 220. So, 220 grams of carbohydrates is required for 60% of a 1600-calorie diet.
Week Four: Fat
During week four, the focus is on fat. Now, common sense tells us that if we've got the first two components down accurately, the third should fall into place, right? So, if the percentages of protein and carbohydrates is correct, fat content should be okay, since you only have 100% to play with. Well, just in case, let's learn how to calculate in anyway!
Fat has 9 calories per gram, so the same formula applies, just change this one factor. Fat should be between 10% - 30%. No one should go below 10% without doctor's supervision. Again, working with a 1600 calorie diet; 1600 multiplied by .15 (15%) = 240, divided by 9, which equals 26. So, ONLY 26 grams of fat a day for 15% of a 1600 calorie diet.
Now, by this time, taking these baby steps one week at a time, you should have it tuned in. If, however, you're not seeing changes, perhaps you need to manipulate the percentages. Perhaps you would do better on a 40-30-30 (carb, protein, fat) plan, remember, everyone is different. WHATEVER works, should not only be getting results for you, but it should feel easy to you. You should have a lot of energy if the diet plan truly fits your metabolism.
If you kept a food diary or notebook accurately during the beginning, then, you should only need to track yourself nutritionally maybe 2-3 times a week, just to keep yourself in check. Soon, it will be so much a part of your new lifestyle, that you may only find yourself keeping track with your food diary only occasionally.