This is a no-nonsense nutritional strategy to change your body composition and help you meet your goals.
A No-Nonsense Approach to Attaining Your Body Composition Goals
I am obligated to inform you, the reader of this ebook, that I am not a certified nutritionist, nor am I a dietician.
This ebook is not a prescription to be followed, nor are the recommendations provided in this ebook to be implemented by persons requiring specific dietary needs due to underlying medical conditions. The contents of this ebook is simply intended to provide information, guidelines, and examples of nutritional strategies that can aid the reader in accomplishing his/her body composition goals.
The information and recommendations contained in this ebook are not simply theoretical. The strategies are based on science and physiology and have been successfully used by countless people in achieving their goals.
I have spent years studying and reviewing research and this document is a compilation of several different sources that I have used to create my own version of what is essentially a basic body-fat reduction program that has been used for years by fitness and figure athletes.
Throughout this text, you will see pictures that I took of myself to document my contest prep for my amateur bodybuilding contest. They are not professional pictures and they have not been re-touched. You will see how effective this nutritional approach, coupled with a sound fitness program, can be in realizing your own body transformation.
Bare BonesDieting and Nutrition Basics
The diet outlined in this document is designed to help you achieve your fitness and body composition goals by manipulating lean body mass (muscle) and body fat. It does this naturally, without chemicals or other drugs that are available for use. I will explain to you the when, where, why and how to use this nutritional strategy to reach your goals naturally. It is not a "get slim quick" diet like we see advertised on infomercials. You are not going to lose 20 pounds in 20 days. That is not healthy or sustainable. Losing that much weight so quickly guarantees that you are losing mostly muscle as well as some fat. With the nutritional strategy I am going to explain here, you will adjust your caloric intake and manipulate your nutrients with the goal of 1.5 to 2 pounds per week weight loss, if your goal is to get lean. In doing so, you will lose mostly fat, and hold onto more of your hard-earned muscle. If your goal is to gain lean mass (muscle), this strategy will help you gain that lean mass while maintaining a lean physique.
The intent of this document is to provide you with a resource that you can use and review whenever needed to help you dial in your nutrition to help you achieve your fitness goals. The strategies and suggestions I make here are based on science as well as personal experience over many years. In order to make it "user friendly", I do not intend to provide in-depth review of all of the studies that have been performed. Nor do I intend to delve into the detailed physiology and chemistry as I explain the strategies in this plan. I will make reference to the studies where appropriate and I will provide some physiologic explanations and may touch on some chemistry, however I will not get "into the weeds."
Finally, please understand that this plan is not an on-again, off-again program. You can continue this plan even after you achieve your goals. Following the strategy guidelines, you can manipulate your nutrients to maintain what you have worked so hard to achieve. This is what separates this approach from others. I will not name any names here, but I'm sure we can all think of a "program" that we, or someone we know, participated in. That person lost weight as long as they stayed on the special food, counted points, drank the shakes, or whatever they had to do to be "on the program."
When you are entering into a training phase, whether it is to lose weight through reducing body-fat or gaining muscle, there are a couple of things that you need to do in order to be successful. First, you need to decide what your goal is and commit to it. I will explain more about this in a moment. The other thing to determine is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). That is, how many calories per day does your body require to meet the demands of day to day living and maintain your current body weight (the calories required for your body to survive)?
A Quick Word On Goal Setting
When you are setting physical achievement goals, you need to be thoughtful and specific. Of course, most people that embark on a physical fitness plan want to "lose weight" or "get skinny." Those are actually vague goals and may leave you frustrated if that is your goal right now. How do you measure the goal of "lose weight" or "get skinny"? When you start a weight lifting program, do you want to "get stronger"? Of course you do. But how do you measure that goal? It is pretty vague too. You need to design a goal that is measureable and meaningful. Something like setting a goal to increase your bench press one-rep max by 20% is a straight forward, measureable and meaningful goal. Being able to walk up a flight of stairs without having to rest because of being out of breath. That goal is slightly more subjective than the bench press example, however it is still a measureable and meaningful goal. When evaluating whether or not you are closing in on your goal of increasing your bench press by 20%, you can track the amount of weight you are able to move now as compared to how much you could move at the beginning of your program. Pretty straight forward, right? When setting goals for your appearance or weight, it is not so simple. "Lose weight" and "get skinny" are not as obvious as you might think.
She actually surpassed her original goal of "lose 10 pounds", if you look at fat loss. Over the months, she lost 15 pounds of fat. What she didn't bargain for initially, was gaining 15 pounds of muscle.
Pic date: June 8, 2011
Her percentage of body fat has gone from 33% to 20%. She has not lost any weight, but has completely changed her body composition. She is much stronger than she was in the beginning, she has increased her cardiovascular endurance and her clothes all fit different.....and she hasn't lost any weight. The bottom line here is, don't think about "weight loss", think "fat loss."
Getting Started: How Many Calories Does Your Body Require?
There are a couple different approaches that can be taken when determining your RMR. Each of which has pros and cons. One, less scientific method is to review what has been happening with you weight-wise for the last several weeks. If your weight has remained stable, that makes things easier. If you have been gaining or losing weight, you will need to do some experimenting.
For sake of discussion, though, let's say that your weight has remained stable. Start a food diary and track your food for one week. Be as detailed as possible and don't leave anything out of your diary. And, this is very important, don't eat differently because you are tracking your food. It is important that you accurately reflect your current habits.
Pic date: February 9, 2012
The Revised Harris-Benedict Method is a formula that I use with my clients to determine their RMR. This formula takes into account a person's gender, height, total weight and age and produces the predicted RMR based on scientific factors. While using this formula makes it quick and easy to determine a person's RMR, it does not take into account the number of calories burned through daily activity. Once your RMR is determined using the Harris-Benedict Method I enter information into another formula that estimates the amount of energy your body uses in day to day living. This will be your starting point for creating your meal plan.
Pic date: April 3, 2012
Regardless of which approach you take to determine your daily caloric starting point, once you have the number, you are ready to move to the next step in creating your diet plan.
There are three energy producing nutrients in our foods. They are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Collectively, they are referred to as Macronutrients and they are what we are going to be tracking when creating our diet plan. The amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates we consume are very important as they provide what our bodies need for energy, repair and maintenance. Macronutrients are manipulated and the amounts that we consume will vary from person to person. Every body is different and will respond differently to the manipulation of macronutrients. For this reason, we can expect that we will need to experiment with nutrient consumption in order to fine-tune our individual diet plans.
Pic date: May 11, 2012
Muscle is made of protein. In order to build new muscle and prevent the breakdown of existing muscle, you must eat ample amounts of protein. Research supports that eating 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight (2 to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight) will help to do this. In multiple studies conducted, the findings remained constant. Groups of individuals were given measured amounts of protein while engaging in weight training programs. In all of the studies, the group receiving the higher amounts of protein had greater gains in strength and muscle fiber than the group receiving less protein. Despite these findings, some dieticians, doctors and scientists still believe that protein requirements for people involved in demanding exercise programs is not much different than sedentary or minimally active people. The reason is that there are also studies that have been conducted to support this position.
Pic date: June 29, 2012
Many people still believe that a healthy diet is one that is low in fat. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, fat is a critical macronutrient in any diet designed to increase muscle and, believe it or not, reduce body fat. One reason that fat is important in your diet is that certain types of fat, omega-3 for example, play a key role in muscle recovery and growth. Among other things, omega-3 fats keep body fat under control, aids in joint health, protects us from heart disease and boosts brain function.
Pic date: July 1, 2012
number of health benefits and it is readily burned as a fuel source by our bodies as opposed to being stored as body fat. And let's not forget saturated fat. Studies have demonstrated that athletes consuming diets including monounsaturated and saturated fats maintained higher testosterone levels. The only fat we want to avoid is trans fat.
Are you ready for this? You must consume some essential fats, because the body needs them and does not make them. You must consume protein to get the essential amino acids that the body doesn't produce. There is however, no essential carbohydrates. Period. The body can create all of the glucose (blood sugar) needed to function properly from protein and fat. This process is gluconeogenesis. The body converts nutrients, including amino acids and glycerol (a component that makes up much of our body fat), to glucose or uses them directly as energy. As we move toward our goal of reducing body fat and maintaining or gaining muscle mass, carbohydrates are the one macronutrient we can reduce in our diet that doesn't cut out essential nutrients.
Pic date: July 5, 2012
So, after all of that explanation and lead-in….what is the bottom line?
Now that we have set the context and you understand how the different macronutrients play into your overall nutrition, here is how we are going to apply that information.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
Pic date: July 6, 2012
1. Create a food diary and track your food for one week. Determine how many calories you are consuming.
2. Determine how many calories you should be consuming. DO NOT consume less than 1200 calories per day.3. Set up your meal plan with the following guidelines:
*Consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
*Consume .5 grams of healthy fat per pound of body weight per day.
*Calculate how many calories that comes to. Consume the remainder of your daily calories from low-glycemic carbohydrates.
Pic date: July 6, 2012
Follow these guidelines and you will be able to maintain your body composition indefinitely.
As you can see from the pictures in this document, I began my journey in 2011 and I am still maintaining by lean body composition and, to this day, am still growing new muscle.
4. As you lose weight, you may hit a plateau and stop losing weight. When this happens, continue to watch your progress for a week. If you have, in fact, hit a plateau, simply reduce your calories by .25 grams per pound of carbohydrates per day.
5. Repeat this process until you reach your desired body composition. Most people will reach their goal long before they eliminate carbohydrates from their meal plan.
6. Once you reach your goal, SLOWLY re-introduce your carbohydrates to increase your daily caloric intake. Once you stop losing weight, you have probably identified your maintenance calorie target. This may require some experimentation to fine tune your caloric requirements.
Pic date: March 29, 2016
Below is a sample day of a meal plan the demonstrates the concepts described in this nutritional plan.
This body composition table is provided for you to reference when creating a body composition goal.
It is important to recognize that the "essential" body fat range is not sustainable for more than a few days. You should not attempt to live down in that range as it is unhealthy and should be avoided except for specific purposes.
© 2018 Tim Hennigan
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