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You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. Even if you hit the gym regularly and have a well-tailored workout plan, an unbalanced and unplanned diet that doesn’t compliment your routine may nullify your efforts. Let’s fix that and create a meal plan that matches your workout plan:
- Daily Energy Expenditure - To begin a meal plan you need Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). It's made of four major components:
- One of the factors that make 60 percent of your TDEE is the basal metabolic rate (BMR), calories required by your body for regular functioning during rest.
- After that, you need to calculate how much energy is used by your body to digest and process food. This makes up around 10 to 15 percent of your TDEE
- Calories burned for activities other than sports/exercises, sleeping, or eating. This includes regular activities like climbing stairs, cutting veggies for cooking, mopping floors, and more
- Finally, you need to figure out the calories burned during a workout or sports
Numerous online calculators can help you calculate your TDEE with basic information like age, height, body fat percentage, etc.
- Determine your daily calorie needs - TDEE gives you a rough idea of the daily calories you need to maintain your weight. Now it’s time to work around that figure and align it with your goals. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can achieve it with more exercise and by reducing the amount of calorie intake. To lose a pound every week, you need to maintain a caloric deficit of 3500 calories every week or 500 calories every day. You can share that figure between your workout and diet. For instance, you can burn 250 calories every day through exercise and switch to healthier food options to consume 250 fewer calories every day.
To build muscle, you need to maintain a caloric surplus. However, you don’t need to add insane amounts of calories. A surplus of 500 calories every day is more than enough and it should be complemented by an intense gym workout. Moreover, you need to consume around 0.6 to 1 gram of protein for every pound of protein to build muscle. For instance, if you weigh 120 pounds at the moment, you need to consume around 72 to 120 grams of protein each day.
- Macro Split - Apart from the number of calories, you also want to keep a tight leash on the source of calories. You need to have an optimal macronutrient split to maximize your results. While protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, fat contains 9. If you drink regularly you also need to be mindful of the high number of calories coming from your beer, rum, whiskey, or other types of liquor. Your macro split is also dictated by your goals.
For instance, if weight loss is your goal, you need a 30:40:30 split between carbohydrates, protein, and fat in that order. To maintain your weight carbohydrate takes the center stage with 50 percent while the rest is split between protein and fat. For muscle gain, you need a 50:30:20 split.
- Calculate daily targets - Once you get the macro split, you need to convert them in grams for relevant macronutrients like protein and fat so that you have tangible targets to follow. Convert the split into percentages and multiply it with your TDEE. Convert the result (0in calories) into grams by dividing it by the appropriate figure. Since protein and carbs contain 4 calories in each gram, you need to divide the TDEE result with those numbers. This gives you the number of grams of carbohydrate or protein your need to consume daily. For fat, the result is divided by 9.
For instance, if you are on a muscle gain diet of 2100 calories each day and your macro split is 50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent fat, you need to do the following:
- Carbs target - 2100 x 50 percent = 1050 calories. Convert to grams = 1050/4 = 262 grams.
- Protein target - 2100 x 30 percent = 630 calories. Convert to grams = 630/4 = 157 grams
- Fat target - 2100 x 20 percent = 420 calories. Convert to grams = 420/9 = 47 grams
Once you have all the macronutrient targets, you can buy your ingredients accordingly and make balanced meals for your workout. Buy a scale so that you can weigh each gram of carb, fat, or protein that goes into your diet.