When looking to devise a diet plan it's important you understand the amount of each macronutrient you need (protein, carbohydrates and fats), the amount of calories you need and then how to efficiently consume this throughout the day to support your training goals and get the results you want. Here we take a look at how you can determine the amount of nutrients you need throughout the day and then the best possible way to ingest them.
To determine how many calories you need per day you can use something called the Harrison Benedict Formula. This is an equation that basically estimates how many calories you need per day by taking your weight, height, age, sex and lastly how active your lifestyle is into consideration. The first thing it does is calculates your metabolism, this is just how many calories you would burn per day just by staying alive and doing things like breathing or making sure your heart beats, but not doing any exercise at all. For men this calculation is as follows:
- Metabolism (Men) = 66.5 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) - (6.755 x age in years)
- Metabolism (Women) = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) - (4.676 x age in years)
Once you've calculated how many calories you burn per day through your metabolism, next you have to multiply that number by the number below that correlates to how active you are, this will then give the number of calories you need per day:
- Not active (0 days a week exercise) = Daily calories needed = metabolism x 1.2
- Lightly active (1-2 days a week exercise) = Daily calories needed = metabolism x 1.375
- Moderately active (3-5 days a week exercise) = Daily calories needed = metabolism x 1.55
- Heavily active (6-7 days a week exercise) = Daily calories needed = metabolism x 1.725
- Very heavily active (exercising twice per day) Daily calories needed = metabolism x 1.9
So to run through an example of a 110kg male power lifter, who's 180cm and 30 years old:
- Metabolism (Men) = 66.5 + (13.75 x 110 (weight in kg)) + (5.003 x 180 (height in cm)) - (6.755 x 30 (age in years))
= 2,276.89 calories
This means they'll be burning 2,276.89 calories just from their metabolism alone. Now say he trains 3-5 times a week, that means you take that figure (2,276.89 calories) and multiply it by 1.55: 2,276.89 calories x 1.55 = 3,529.18 calories per day This means he would need 3,529.18 calories per day just solely to maintain his current weight and to support his training. Now if he wanted to bulk up he would need to create a calorie surplus which is where he would consume 500 more calories day more than this, meaning he would need to consume 4,029.18 calories per day. But if he wanted to lose weight, he would need to minus 500 calories from 3,529.18 and create a calorie deficit, meaning he would be consume 3,029.18 calories per day. But if he just wanted to maintain his current weight and support his training, he would create an energy equilibrium and just consume the set 3,529.18 calories per day.
Protein Throughout the Day
Protein is a nutrient we need in our diets for our body's to effectively repair and regrow, without it it's likely we wouldn't progress, over train and maybe even get ill. Now the the International Olympic Committee Consensus on Sports Nutrition states to support a strength or speed based workout routine; athletes require 1.7grams of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. So based on this recommendation a 110kg power lifter would need 187grams of protein per day. Now it's important to note our body's can't absorb more than 20-30 grams of protein in one sitting, so to effectively use and absorb your daily requirement of protein it's advised that you divide this 187 grams into 6-7 meals, spaced roughly 2-3 hours apart throughout the day.
So again using the example for a 110kg power lifter, to efficiently absorb all the protein he needs for the day (all 187 grams of it) he would have to consume 26.71 grams every 2 hours, 7 times a day. This can be done by having an omlette for breakfast, a chicken breast and salad 2 hours later, a healthy burger with whole-wheat bread 2 hours later and so on. Doing this is the best way for your body to consume, absorb and use all the protein it requires.
Frequency of Your Meals
On the same topic of meal frequency discussed above with protein, although there are few real scientific studies to clarify this, it is generally accepted by experts that eating smaller servings on a frequent basis serves to keep the metabolic rate constantly heightened, ensures your body is able to efficiently absorb all the nutrients and lastly it also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels which means you don't get an energy crash making you feel tried and lethargic and instead keeps you slowly energized throughout the day.
This is a different perspective to the traditional 3 large square meals a day that can sometimes produce hypoglycemia which is what happens after a huge meal when your blood sugar levels dip which is what causes you to become tired and almost 'sleepy'. Also it's when you have a large meal that your body releases more insulin, which in turn reduces lipolysis (the burning of fat) and increases lipogenesis (the burning of fat).