Welcome to the final part of this article series on structured eating. The plan from here is to go through the entire step by step process outlined in the previous articles by examining a fictional case study - who we're going to call Felicity.
Felicity is a 22 year old female who is 157cm tall and weighs in at 56kg. She does moderate to hard resistance training 4-5 days a week, however; has a very active job which has her regularly walking 8-10km a day. So she is going to select the highest level of activity rating on the calorie calculator.
Now we know how many calories Felicity needs to eat per day to gain, lose, or maintain her weight.
You need 2,463 Calories/day to maintain your weight.
You need 1,963 Calories/day to lose 0.5 kg per week.
You need 1,463 Calories/day to lose 1 kg per week.
You need 2,963 Calories/day to gain 0.5 kg per week.
You need 3,463 Calories/day to gain 1 kg per week.
So it’s time to work out Felicity’s macro breakdown - she is beginning a phase of her training focused on gaining muscle, so she wants to eat appropriately to maximise the potential of this phase of training. She is going to be aiming to eat 2960 calories per day, whilst looking to increase weight at a steady pace of 0.5kg per week. This serves as a useful figure to ensure that she is gaining as much muscle as possible, with minimal increases in body fat. Essentially, Felicity will need to keep protein intake high in order to facilitate all that muscle growth, and will also need plenty of carbs to fuel those hard training sessions.
Firstly, we convert body weight to pounds (there are 2.2lbs per kilogram), and using the rations provided in ‘Part 3’, we can calculate that Felicity requires 123g of protein per day. For carbs, we will use the upper end of the recommended carbohydrate intake since Felicity trains hard and often, requiring an intake of 3g carbs per lbs. This would suggest that Facility requires 369g of carbohydrates per day. Using the calories per gram outlined in ‘Part 3’ we can calculate that this consumption of protein and carbohydrate results in a caloric intake of 2080 calories per day. We can now make up the outstanding intake of 880 calories with her fat intake. At 9 calories per gram, 880 calories translates as 97g of fat.
(Note: it is perfectly possible to exchange some fats for more carbs if training becomes noticeably worse on this amount of carbs).
Felicity's overall macro-nutrient breakdown is therefore as follows:
- 123g of protein
- 396g of carbohydrates
- 97g of fat
Following the structure guidelines, Felicity outlines her next 3 months of nutrition, she's going to aim to gain 1lb of muscle tissue per week for the first 2 months, which should put her roughly 8lbs heavier than she is now. If she begins to struggle to keep gaining at that rate, she's going to increase her calories by 200 a day, and if she observes a gain of more than 1lbs per week, she's going to make sure her food measurements are accurate (before taking further action), then drop the caloric intake by 200 per day and observe what happens.
Lastly let's talk about the general ratio of macro-nutrients within individual meal structure.
- Lean meat 6g protein, 1-2g of fat
- Healthy carbohydrates 15g
- Vegetables ≤ 5g net carbs [net carbs being total carbs minus fiber]
- Ideally unsaturated fats,12-15g of fat
Keep these rough ratios and use them to calculate the intakes of each macro-nutrient to suit your dietary needs. It is important to note, however, that these ratios can be relatively flexible, and as long as you meet your daily intake requirements you'll be well on your way.
I hope this case study helps everyone with how to outline and approach your own nutritional goals, As always please feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions!
Welcome to the penultimate part of this guide in which we will cover macro-nutrients. So let's start with a basic breakdown of what a macro-nutrient is and why they're important. Nutrients are environmental substances that are needed by organisms for growth, energy and bodily functions. The ones needed in the greatest amounts are called macro-nutrients.
Humans require three main macro-nutrients: carbohydrates (carbs), fats, and proteins. These provide energy in the form of calories.
Each of them have a value of calories per gram:
So for example; a food that has 10g of protein 10g of carbs and 0 fats, would have 80 calories. 40 from protein and 40 from carbohydrates.
Your macro-nutrient needs will vary greatly from other people’s, based largely on your activity levels and goals, for example; a sedentary 48 year-old female with a goal of weight maintenance would have a very different macro-nutrient profile to a 21 year-old male looking to add muscle, and training to do so five days a week. Let's instead look at some of the variables to consider when working out what your macro-nutrient amounts should be.
To begin with, it’s important to understand the relationship between carbohydrates and sport performance. Carbohydrates play a big role in any physical activity since they get broken down into glucose, which is the main source of energy for all anaerobic activity. So if you are training towards a competitive sporting goal, it's safe to say you will 100% require carbohydrates to fuel your performance in training and in competition. Does this mean that people who don't share these goals can't have carbohydrates? No, of course not. They will just need to consider the fact they may not need as many as someone who, through hard training, will have a higher demand. As a rough guide, you will be looking for approximately 1-3g of carbs per pound of bodyweight each day, depending on your training demands.
Next let's look at proteins. Proteins break down into amino acids which are the building blocks for the vast majority of our cells, muscles and tissue. So it stands to reason that if you are looking to maintain or increase your muscle mass, you are going to need to consume some protein - but how much? Approximately 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Protein is also great when cutting weight, due it being very satiating, which can help curb feeling of hunger.
Lastly, let's examine fats. These are broken into two sub-categories; saturated, and unsaturated. Due to the findings of a number of more recent scientific studies, it is still very uncertain if both sub categories are equally beneficial as fat sources, so I would recommend that you stick with what has worked great up till now, which is to keep the majority of your fat content made up of unsaturated fats. As for recommended daily intake, there is a lot of variance past the minimum amount, ranging from 10-25g per day.
That pretty much covers the basic outline of macro-nutrients, with some practical information to use in conjunction with the last two parts of this series. I hope this all helps. In the final part of this series, we'll put all of this info together in a practical guide with a full step-by-step breakdown. If you have any comments or questions please leave them below or find me on social media @ATSapproved.
The following is a basic introduction to what you need to know to manage what you eat, and make changes to your bodyweight and composition. It is designed for people who have little to zero experience tracking what they eat.
What you will need:
If you clicked on this article, curious as to what 'structured eating' was, great! This is for you. Structured eating is when you actively track and plan what to eat, normally towards a goal of some sort.
To get started, you will need certain bits of information that you'll use to monitor changes. Those changes will let you know if you're on the right track or not.
Firstly, you'll need your own bodyweight. This is the main thing that will let you know if you are heading where you want to go. This can be daunting for some, however; no one needs to know this information bar you. You need to come to terms with the fact that it is merely a number, it doesn't define you as a person. It is simply a numerical value. One we're going to use to determine if we are moving in the desired direction with our eating plans.
Secondly, you're going to need to work out the amount of calories you need to eat.. It's normally based around a few factors like sex, age, height, and basic activity level (9-5 office work isn't as demanding as 9-5 manual labour, for example). Here is one that's straight-forward to use.
We now have everything we need to make a start with the basic planning of food intake!
The plan for now is:
2. Weigh yourself on your scales in the morning as soon as you get up, three times throughout the week. Ideally, spaced out (Mon/Wed/Fri, for example).
That's it. All we're looking to do is build the process of regularly weighing yourself, and logging information about your food. The weigh ins are three times weekly so we have a good spread of data points to look at, any less and it would be a little too inaccurate, any more can get tedious.
What we do with this information will be covered in the next part of this series. For now, just get used to the changes in routine and see what numbers you get! Do you weigh what you thought you did? How many calories do you actually eat? Does that number change day to day or are you fairly consistent? If it does change, why do you suppose that is? Have fun, and let me know how you get on.