Diet By The Numbers!

What motivates you determines your consistency and desired results.

Writing down what you eat helps develop self-discipline, better focus and makes you become aware what exactly you are eating for getting better and faster results. You will find a lot of under-reporting calories people tend to forget or ignore which add up. When I seriously diet I write down everything I eat and count the protein, carbohydrates (even the simple carbs like juice, fruit) and fat for EACH ITEM and MEAL, even when I cheat (when I go above my 2,700-calorie range or out of my ratio bounds). I am allowed to have 60 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of fat PER MEAL. I have 5 meals per day and this helps me manage my totals each meal and for the whole day! I subtotal the figures throughout the day to monitor how well I am doing and plan what I can or cannot have before the day ends.

Years ago while living overseas for some time I wrote down everything I ate for four months! I utilized a circuit training program in conjunction with my diet and in 4 months I got what I wanted - a slimmer waistline with washboard abs! If you are truly serious you'll find the time to write down what you eat! Practicing what you (should) do becomes habit forming and easier to do. Writing down what you eat first seems time consuming and worthless, but then it can become very challenging and educational, even a game to yourself en-route to your rewarded goal!

My challenge is dieting with 2,600 calories with a 45 - 35 - 20 macro nutrient ratio. I need approximately 300 grams of protein, approximately 225 grams of carbs and approximately 60 grams of fat.

Recommended Amount Of Fat Grams

If you don't know how many grams of fat you need but know your goal calories and a macro nutrient ratio you can use based on your goal, experience and level of fitness you can find out your grams of protein, carbs and fat by using this calculation. First, protein: 2,600 x 45% (ratio protein) = 1170 (calories protein) / 4 (there are 4 calories in one gram of protein) = 293 exact grams of protein. Next, carbs: 2,600 x 35% (ratio carbs) = 910 (calories carbs) / 4 (there are 4 calories in one gram of carb - carbs get used first before protein) = 228 exact grams of carbohydrates. Last, fat: 2,600 x 20% (ratio fat) = 520 (calories fat) / 9 (there are a whopping 9 calories in one gram of fat) = 58 exact grams of fat. It becomes a numbers game. Counting your macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) keeps you on track for the day and amount of calories (mine would be 2,600) allotted for at the end of the day and how many are needed in the weeks - to lose fat, gain muscle, both or maintain. If your weight remains the same and you see, feel or measure no exchange of fat/muscle taking place you are holding at your maintenance.

Find out how many grams of fat you should have each day (the easy way)

Enter your total daily calories  


Response: Right now I'm just trying to lose the fat so I can make the weigh-in in�. I put on a tad bit of weight over the past few weeks. I also don't have any handy books for measuring protein (I have a carbohydrate/sugars book and a calories/fat book). Today I ate 2,000 calories, 250 carbohydrates, and 40 grams of fat (as of 6PM). I'm going to cut back a bit tomorrow on the calories. You spoke about Ronnie Coleman's diet. Did you see Jay Cutler's 10,000 calorie-diet a few months ago!

Without you telling me your protein intake (if you knew) as of 6PM you ate 160 grams of protein amounting to 640 calories - to put in the missing figure of your 2,000 calories. 250 carbohydrates (1,000 calories) and 40 fat (360 calories) amount to only 1,360 calories. The missing 640 of 2,000 was/is your protein intake. This breaks down to a 32% protein, 50% carbohydrate, and 18% fat ratio (granted that you didn't eat anything after 6PM - I would have a hard time not to). Real good ratio for your goal I think!

Ronnie's Diet

Ronnie Coleman must eat around the same in the off-season. Assuming this calorie and breakdown range: 1,000 grams of protein = 4,000 calories; 1,000 grams of carbohydrates = 4,000 calories; and 222 grams of fat = 2,000 calories. Total = 10,000 calories. This would be a 40 - 40 - 20 ratio. Same as mine but more calories for a bigger guy with twice as much lean muscle mass! This sort of ratio would make sense to a bodybuilder who doesn't want to add fat to his body while training in the off-season. S/He can maintain fat weight while gaining more muscle. The "bulk-up"/"cut-up" diet regimen died in the late 70s/early 80s but some still use it.

To make a case and point with protein, carbohydrates, fat, calories and appropriate ratio allowed for the day I had a personal pan pizza (26 protein, 70 carbohydrates, 29 fat) after my workout and while on my diet! I could afford to because my macro nutrient, calorie and ratio would still be within range at the end of the day. My last meal consisted of: 1 � cups salad (without dressing), 6oz. can of tuna, � cup 1% cottage cheese. Totals: 47 protein, 10 carbohydrates, 2 fat. Total Macro nutrients for the end of the day: Protein 281, Carbohydrates 246, Fat 65. Total Calories: 2,676. Ratio: 42 - 37 - 22. Very good, considering it is within 5% of my recommended ratio 45 - 35 - 20.

Response: You're right the eating journal came in handy. And you were right. I ate after 6PM (couldn't help it!). Had a ham sandwich. Totals for Saturday were: 2,314 calories - 267 carbohydrates and 45 fat. Need to cut out about 300 calories today (to make an even 2,000-calorie diet) and get the carbohydrates down to 250. Fat is fine as long as it's under 50 grams. What do you think??? Am I on the right track? Hey, how did you tell how much protein I had without me telling you what I ate all day????

Thought you'd be surprised how I figured your protein. But knew you'd figure it out with the math! If your aim is to take in 250 grams of carbohydrates and 50 grams of fat that allows your protein to be only 138 grams for a total of 2,000 calories. 250 carbohydrates (1,000 calories) a day is good for you. But try your original 40 fat (360 calories), which will give you an "exchange" of 20 grams of protein your body will probably need without losing muscle mass. That will put your protein intake up to 160 grams per day (640 calories) and give you a 32 - 50 - 18 ratio that would be good for your specific short-term goal.

How Much Protein Should You Consume?

You can use this Protein Calculator to determine the optimum protein consumption to accomplish your goals!

Don't forget about our Amazing Protein Finder!

Personal Protein Calculator
  Your lifestyle or training goal:   
  Your body weight (in Pounds): lbs.  
  Your optimum daily protein range
is between & grams.

Response: Yesterday I had 2,314 calories� 210 protein, 267 carbohydrates, 45 fat. That makes a 36 - 46 - 18 ratio. I am reducing the calories to 2,000 today. I'm exceeding 25% protein (your Reverse Pyramid Training book cautions not to do this).

My book is a starting point for the recreational type of person. It is not individualized or taken into account of "specialized" nutrition for specific goals of certain people of different experience like athletic dieting used in conjunction with athletic training for increasing performance or enhancing physical appearance. If you look at the (*) symbol under the box of percentages it is recommended not to go above 30% but I leave that up to the individual (my current diet is a 45 - 35 - 20 ratio). With your totals you have been under-reporting to yourself an extra 314 calories! If 40 grams of fat is unrealistic for you (it would be for myself) then 50 grams might be better. That's only an extra 100 calories to maintain your sanity and sticking with your 'diet!'

Response: What do you think. I am a little worried about the protein. As of 7:30PM: 105 protein, 225 carbohydrates, and 42 fat. Total calories: 1,697. Ratio: 25 - 53 - 22. My goal ratio: 30 - 50 - 20. I still have a snack scheduled for tonight (I only need 300 calories to make my 2,000 calorie-goal. Will try to find something high in protein.

Don't starve yourself of protein and carbohydrates. Always start with your protein requirements first because the last thing you want to do is lose your fat-burning machinery - muscle! Next, determine a healthy and sane fat intake, and then figure your energy (carbohydrate) requirement. I always put a healthy recommendation for fat between 30-60 grams for a man or women between 150 to 250 pounds when following a calorie-restricted diet. Follow my book's recommendation for protein: 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (muscle) weight. Your protein intake is dependent on a body composition test that can be assessed at virtually any gym or health club to determine your fat to muscle ratio in relation to total body weight.

If your aim is to follow a 2,000-calorie 30 - 50 - 20 ratio you'll have to follow this breakdown regardless: 150 (600) protein, 250 (1,000) carbohydrates, and 45 (405) fat. Total calories: 2,005. That equals your goal ratio of 30 - 50 - 20!

If you are having a hard time keeping up your protein while restricting your calories use a protein supplement (which I thought you already do). I "eat" about 150 grams of protein and "drink" the extra 150 grams from protein drinks. The more you play with your numbers the more you learn what might be a good diet plan for you.

Copyright © 1997-2002 Randy M. Herring