Having the correct diet is 50% of successful weight training. You will benefit simply from training alone, of course, but if you want to make the best progress – either as a bodybuilder, power lifter or dedicated weight trainer – you need to get your diet in order.
This article looks at a simple way to calculate your macro (protein, carbohydrate and fat) requirements so that you make the best progress you can. Be aware that this is just a starting point and as you progress and gain more experience you may need to tweak it a bit.
Calculate Your TEE
First of all, head over to my BMR Calculator, enter your stats and make a note of the last number (Total Energy Expenditure or TEE) it specifies. Or, for a more accurate way to calculate your TEE, check out my post here.
If you eat to your TEE your weight should remain stable. If that’s your goal, take this as your base figure.
If you’re trying to gain weight, add 200-500 calories to your TEE.
If you’re trying to lose weight, subtract 200-500 calories from your TEE.
The ranges of 200-500 calories added or subtracted, above, will determine how quickly you want to gain or lose weight but be aware that these things are generally better done slowly, so 300 might be a good starting figure.
Either way, you should end up with a target TEE to take to the next section.
The amount of protein you need is hotly disputed. One particular scientific study suggests that anything over 0.8g of protein per lb of body weight is a waste of time. Anecdotal eviece from bodybuilders suggests that 1.0g of protein (or more) per lb of body weight is the way to go.
So let’s split the difference and go for 0.9g protein per lb of body weight (0.41g per kg bodyweight).
So multiply your body weight (in lbs) by 0.9 to get the amount of protein you need per day.
Let’s say you weigh 200lbs, this would mean you need 200 x 0.9 = 180g of protein per day.
Each gram of protein constitutes 4 calories, so if you multiply 180 by 4 you get 720 calories, which is the amount of calories of protein you need to eat each day.
Subtract this from your TEE. So if your TEE was 2400 calories, take 720 off it to leave 1680 calories to be carried forward to the next section.
Like protein, the exact amount of fat you need is often disputed but 0.4g per lb of body weight is a reasonable starting point.
So multiply your body weight (in lbs) by 0.4 to get the amount of fat you need per day.
Let’s say you weigh 200lbs, this would mean you need 200 x 0.4 = 80g of fat per day.
Each gram of fat constitutes 9 calories, so if you multiply 80 by 9 you get 720 calories, which is the amount of calories of fat you need to eat each day.
Subtract this from the figure you brought forward from the protein calculation above. So if that figure was 1680 calories (as in our example), take 720 off it to leave 960 calories to be carried forward to the next section.
The number of calories of cabohydrates you need to eat is just what’s left, which is 960 calories in our example.
Divide this number by 4 to convert it to grams. In our example that’s 960/4 = 240g of carbohydrate.
The above presents a simply way to calculate your macro requirements. Within that, you still need to make sure you’re getting enough fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Furthermore, when it comes to your protein requirements, get as much of it as you can from real food. Only use protein supplements as a last resort.