Friday, 1 May 2009
The perfect Diet?
The idea of proper diet has taken so many turns over the years. It is difficult to know which is right for you. Unfortunately, too many people are looking for the perfect diet out of the box. Our society is so caught up with instant success that we have forgotten how to work for anything. Yes, you can pay for the perfect body, but it won't come in a boxit will come under the knife, unless of course, you're prepared to work for it, like the rest of us.
Let's clear one thing upmagic pills and powders will not give you the perfect body. In fact, the perfect body is in the eye of the beholder. We all have different opinions to what looks good as well as how we plan to get there. The idea is to find what is right for you.
So why is it that people will spend hours in the gym and five minutes going through the drive-thru? Doesn't make sense to me. Nor does expecting that every new diet is going to work for every person. High protein, low protein, high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, how the hell do you determine which works the best? You need to go back to the basics. Some of you may have been there before and some of you may not have even thought about it, but starting at square one is the best place to start your training planning, your supplement planning and your diet planning.
Now remember that when I say diet I mean what you eat, not how much you should reduce your calories. Those who think dieting is simply reducing intake for a while are the same people that look the same year after year. I have been in that mode. Stop fooling yourself, fast food, bad fats and alcohol are not O.K., not even every once in awhile. In fact I am willing to bet that if you took all three out of your diet for just six weeks you would notice a difference in you body. Really!
Now before I get all kinds of hate mail for saying that alcohol and fast food is bad, relax. I eat and drink just like the rest of the world. In fact my struggles with dieting are no different from anyone else. The difference is this; I know proper eating makes a difference in your physique. Back in the day when I was single and bar hoping nightly I noticed the fast food and alcohol catch up with meFAST. When I was more or less forced to quit drinking for awhile it was obvious the effect alcohol has on the body. Never mind the empty calories, the munchies are much worse. So no hate mail.
Of course for those that have already made this commitment and want to get over the hump or loose the hump, you'll need to get a little more specific. The best way to get started on the path to a good diet is to spend a week documenting your own. I mean everything you eat for one week: every meal, snack, snibblet, treat, nibble, drink, and supplement. In addition to writing down your entire daily intake also write down the Fats, Proteins, Carbs and calories for each item. Keeping this type of on-going log is just like keeping a training log. Do you need to keep this log up like your training log? For the first week yes, after that it is up to you. However, if you track your diet for an extended period of time you will find that you soon will know many foods nutritional breakdown by heart. A bonus that is sure to turn on the ladies. Or at least help you to eat properly.
When you have finished your first week of food tracking it is time to evaluate your diet. What are you eating, when are you eating, how much are you eating when you eat? What is the Protein/Carb/Fat balance? This information is going help you to prepare your own "perfect diet". Now there are many "perfect diets", but only a few are going to work for you. The first thing to note about your current diet is whether you are eating enough small meals throughout the day. If you are meeting the minimum 5-6 meals a day, the next thing to look at is your overall caloric intake. Are you within in your BMR? (Basal metabolic rate) Your BMR is the number of calories your body needs to sustain itself. There are a few ways to calculate this. Just type "BMR calculator" in your favorite search engine, you'll find plenty of BMR calculators to figure this out.
A few words about BMR, this is the number of calories your body needs to sustain itself if you are watching TV all day. This is not the number of calories your body needs if you are working out 5 days a week. Keep that in mind. Most people think, well I'm too fat and my BMR is 2000 so I just reduce my calories to 1500. WRONG! Getting it right takes some work remember?
Now that you have determined your BMR and you know how many calories you eat during the average day you can start to prepare you plan. This plan may be to gain muscle or lose fat. In either case, you have some information to get started. Here are some general guidelines for each case.
Eat Papa Eat! No not pizza and French fries. Good foods. At least 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per pound. In other words, I weigh 200 pounds; I need to eat 300 to 400 grams of protein a day. Not all at once but divided by six meals. That's a lot of proteinyour right. Your trying to grow remember. Now if each gram of protein is 4 calories, and it is, then you will get 1200 to 1600 calories from your protein intake each day. Carbs are the same 4 calories per gram. Fats on the other hand are 9 calories per gram.
Most people that want to gain muscle are not eating enough. Take for example the 200lb guy. Let's say he is 20 year old, 6' and 200lbs. His BMR is approx. 2100 calories a day if he just sits. But he works out hard 5 days a week and he wants to get bigger. He needs to add 500 calories minimum to grow his body and if 500 doesn't work he needs to add 500 more. You see everyone is different, so one guy may only add 500 calories and another may need to add 1500. There are too many variables for anyone to grow on a cookie cutter diet. Period.
If we use the same person for our example we will just make a small adjustment the other way. In most cases, after completing your food log you will find that you are eating more than 2100 calories a day. In this case you will need to reduce your calorie intake, but maintain at least 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. We want to lose fat and not much muscle if we can help it. You will reduce your calories by 500 to start. You'll find it is easier to reduce in small steps than it is to reduce all at once and feel like your starving. The caution here is not to reduce calories below your BMR for extended periods of time. I like a couple weeks at best. The reason for this, is that too long below your BMR and your body will start to hold on to fat for survival. This is a safety mechanism built in. Don't be fooled by the scale, just because you are seeing lower numbers on the scale doesn't always mean you are losing fat. You could be losing your muscle. You need to eat enough to support your gym efforts.
That was a very brief description of calorie needs, now let's talk more about Proteins, Carbs and Fats. This is another article in itself, but here's the short version. You need to eat all three. No fat diets do not serve your body well. Your body needs fat to build muscle. Hell, fat is part of the testosterone building process. You don't need processed fats. My suggestion is to get your fats from good sources like fish, meat, and whole foods. If it comes out of a bottle or big plastic jug, that's bad. Proteins and carbs should make up 70-80% of your daily calories. Use your 1.5 -2.0 grams per pound to get your percentage of total calories for proteins and fill in the rest with carbs.
Now some of you are asking, "well what foods should I eat?". "You didn't tell me what type of foods!" "How do I know what to eat?" Well guess what? You already know You know that eating fast food isn't helping. You know that eating a big plate of pasta with red sauce three days a week isn't the answer. Give yourself some credit peopleyour not idiots! You just like to eat, like the rest of us. Fruits, vegetables, beef, fish, chicken, some pasta, some good fats. If you eat right, you don't have to diet.